Visions.eZine - For Visio Users
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15 December, 1999: Vol. 1 No. 3

After this issue of Visions.eZine, we'll be taking our Christmas break for a couple of weeks. The next issue comes out on Wednesday, 12 January. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Top of the News:

Shareholders Approve Takeover

Last Monday, shareholders approved the agreement under which Visio will be acquired by Microsoft. Said chairman Jeremy Jaech: "This is a major milestone toward completing the pending merger transaction with Microsoft. We remain optimistic that the transaction will close in January 2000, pending completion of regulatory review by the US Department of Justice, and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions."

The deal, announced 15 Sept, is an exchange of stock valued at US$1.3 billion, and is Microsoft's largest acquisition ever. On the news of shareholder approval, Microsoft shares went up 2-1/8 to $96, while Visio shares rose 15/16 to $38-11/16.


Visio 2000's Translation of DWG Files

Previous versions of Visio Technical were able to read and translate drawings created by AutoCAD, but the process was dismal. The process was very slow, and not terribly accurate.

The acquisition of MarComp, then later IntelliCAD, helped Visio's programmers understand better the DWG (AutoCAD drawing) format. MarComp had specialized in reverse-engineering the DWG file format, which Autodesk does not make freely available. (MarComp has since become the OpenDWG Alliance.)

IntelliCAD had been designed by Softdesk from the ground up to be compatible with AutoCAD drawings, commands, and programming. For Visio 2000 Technical Edition, Visio's programmers incorporated the IntelliCAD display engine.

The difference is remarkable: the translation process is very fast and very accurate, although a few problems remain...

You can read this week's complete feature article at

Visions.eZine in Japanese

XYZ Publishing is pleased to announce that Visions.eZine is now available in Japanese. The editor is Yasu Ohgushi. You can contact him at, or visit his under-construction Web site at

Visions.eZine is also available in Spanish. To subscribe to the Spanish Edition, contact Claudio Jose Maccio at .

News of the Visio World

NetScout Shapes
Visio and NetScout Systems will jointly develop NetScout-specific SmartShapesM that are exact replicas of NetScout's instrumentation for Application Flow Management (AFM). The shapes will be added to the 18,000 shapes in the Visio Network Equipment (VNE) library that is part of Visio 2000 Enterprise Edition, and is available through the VNE Subscription update for Visio 2000 Professional Edition.

The NetScout-specific SmartShapes will be released with the quarterly VNE Library Subscription Service update later in December. NetScout Systems designs, develops, manufactures, and markets software and hardware to manage the performance of computer networks.

Visio Unaffected by WTO Protests
During the anti-WTO "Battle in Seattle" protests, Visio was largely unaffected by the protests and riots. Said a Visio spokesman:"Most of the activity was near the old building, so we were not in the direct line of fire. However, most Visio people were working remotely to avoid any possible trouble."

The building that formerly housed Visio's corporate headquarters is diagonally across the street from the site of the WTO conference.

Visio Manufacturers Program
Visio developed the Manufacturers Program in conjunction with network equipment manufacturers to ensure access to up-to-date and accurate product shapes. Participating hardware manufacturers' equipment shapes are updated in both VNE and Enterprise Edition throughout the year.

The program also provides services for manufacturers of data and telecommunications equipment, including joint marketing initiatives and customized Visio solutions for channel/VAR programs or sales/technical teams.

Since its launch in August 1997, the Visio Manufacturers Program has grown to over 250 manufacturers, and includes Nortel Networks, Cabletron Systems, Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, NEC America, ADC Telecommunications, Juniper Networks, Gadzoox Networks,  and Toshiba International. Detailed information on the Visio Manufacturers Program can be found at:

TechNet and BSA Court Politicians
The Technology Network (TechNet) and the Business Software Alliance (BSA) hosted United States Senators last Thursday at the first PowerUP-supported youth center in California. The Senators will work with students using PowerUP and discuss their high-tech agenda.

The purpose of TechNet is to build working relationships with national and state political leaders and pass federal and state laws that will help foster the New Economy. Visio is a member of the BSA.

Law Web Site Backed by Visio Backers, a law Web site that brings together information, resources and access to attorneys, received US$1.15 million in its first round of financing. Former McCaw Cellular executive Dan Kranzler put together the fund of US$40 million from angel investors. Other investors in include early management and backers of Microsoft and Visio.

Computer News Summaries

In the next five years, half of Corel's revenue will come from Linux, according to CEO Michael Cowpland. The company plans to continue working with Windows, but wants to become the company that "bridges the gap for users who want products for both Windows and Linux." To get around competition from Microsoft, Corel had tried Java but gave up on it. Now it is trying Linux, aiming at the average user by basing Linux on the Debian version. Corel's Linux can be downloaded free from; WordPerfect Office suite is available for Linux. Cowpland says, "We see Red Hat on the server and us on the desktop." -- CNET

The price of Intel CPUs has has dropped again, ranging from 3% to 7%. Intel has reduced CPU prices 13 times in 1999. The slowest Pentium III now is the 533MHz model; 750MHz is the fastest.

IntelliCAD 2000
The Struc Plus commercial release of IntelliCAD 2000 is now available in upgrade, crossgrade and full license versions. Order online to receive IntelliCAD 2000 on CD-ROM. All versions ship with SPTools 2000 drafting utilities at no extra charge.

Starting with the release of the next version of Windows CE for palm-size PCs, code-named Rapier, Microsoft will stop cobranding devices with the "Windows CE" moniker. Instead, devices such as Hewlett-Packard's Jornada 420 and Casio's Casioppeia 100 will be promoted as "Windows Powered," along with every other device running on Windows CE. Windows CE-based devices will simply be one more thin client for server computers based on Windows 2000. - CNET

Visio Tips

Tip #4:
Visio 2000 Technical Edition has problem with files created by Visio 5+ Technical. Large files, 4MB and larger, created by Visio 2000 Technical will not save back in Visio 5 format. Visio tech support can repeat the problem, but has no fix for it. For now they are recommending to "not use Visio 2000 Technical with Visio 5+ files. Use Visio 5+ with Visio 5+ files, and Visio 2000 with Visio 2ooo files."
     - Jaroslaw Slabinski

Tip #5:
When I used Visio 5 with the HP755CM color plotter, the print preview would bear no resemblance to the actual printed copy. For example, a 17-foot drawing that looks perfect in the preview prints as a 5-foot drawing (centered) in 17 feet of otherwise blank paper.

After downloading the latest HP driver (v4.2.2) for the HP DesignJet Model 755CM color plotter, I resolved all issues for Visio drawing and paper sizes, for print preview and for printing. An HP DesignJet gentleman in customer support did a marvelous job of coaching me on some subtleties of working with the plotter, at no charge.
     - Harold Wilson

Puzzled about Visio? Got an idea on how to make Visio work better?
Send your questions and tips to .

Market News

At the close of trading on Tuesday, the Visio share price (and 52-week range) was:

Symbol     Closing Price     52-week Range
VSIO          40 1/8               21 7/8 - 43 1/2

Brand New Visio Book

Save up to 30% by purchasing this book on-line:

Visio 2000 Visual Insight
by David Plotkin
List Price: US$24.99; paperback; 300 pages. (Due to be available January 10, 2000)
Published by The Coriolis Group.

Letters to the Editor

Re: CAD for Linux
"I bought LinuxCAD by Software Forgein the spring and played with it a bit but found it way too rough and incomplete. I also bought VariCAD, which has some nice features but puts one on a very steep learning curve. I haven't got time for it.
        "IntelliCAD has gone Open Source. The 98 version is pretty darn close to AutoCAD R14. A person trained on AutoCAD would have very few problems with it. The Open Source 2000 version is free for download but is still a bit beta, and is only for WinXX. It might be worth investigating that whole scenario ( &, and perhaps alert the readers to what's happening there.
        "It's sorta unique as far as CAD software goes. Any individual with C++ skills can build their own version for personal use; get involved with the evolution of the product."
         - Risto Saarikko

Re: Actrix 2000 Technical
"Thanks for the Autodesk Actrix Technical 2000 plug in your latest Visions.eZine newsletter. Although we appreciate the exposure, we'd like to respond to your remark that '... the only new feature unique to Actrix is #3. Visio Drawing File Translator ...'
        "We recognize that it is often difficult to adequately assess software based-upon published marketing material (marketing-speak). However, several of the other listed Top-Ten items are unique to Actrix Technical 2000:
        "The additional 4000 ActiveShapes include an extensive collection of network shapes available from Visio only in the Visio 2000 Professional Edition.
        "The new ActiveSockets, allowing ActiveShapes and connectors (or other ActiveShapes) to plug into each other dynamically at any point, is enabled throughout the solution groups, and offers unparalleled flexibility in assigning relationships between intelligent objects.
        "The new ActiveShape Editor offers an intuitive and user-friendly environment for creating and editing ActiveShapes, bringing ease-of-use to a new level.
        "And finally, the enhanced event modeler allows associating context-sensitive routines to more than 200 user actions, and is ideal for using Actrix as a platform for customization.
        "Additional advantages include superior AutoCAD interoperability (with support for paperspace, raster backgrounds, ARX object enablers, and Architectural desktop drawings), as well as a superior development platform."
         - Chuck Spink, Actrix Product Manager

The Editor replies: "I'll react to your comments in the spirit of accuracy, even though it is not my job to defend Visio Corp.
        "Network shapes are also available via the VNE (Visio Network Equipment) add-on. Since Autodesk hasn't announced the price of Actrix 2000, it's difficult to say if Actrix 2000 = Visio + VNE.
        "Visio 2000 has the equivalent of AutoCAD's 'object snap,' which allows shapes and connectors to connect at nearly 20 different geometrically significant points.
        "I don't really see a difference between the ActiveShape Editor and Visio's shape creation and editing. Groups editing has been made easier in Visio 2000.
        "Visio has context-sensitive routines that react to user actions.
        "I find it curious that Actrix has better support for DWG files than LT 2000. It is my understanding that support for ObjectARX Object Enablers the same thing as support for Architectural Desktop drawings."


All contents copyright 1999 XYZ Publishing, Ltd. Inc., and all rights are reserved. No material may be reproduced electronically or in print without written permission from XYZ Publishing, 34486 Donlyn Avenue Abbotsford BC, V2S 4W7, Canada, unless otherwise noted.