Creating a Visio Dashboard

Over the next few blog posts I am going to cover some of the features of Visio 2013 and SharePoint 2013 Visio imageservices. Separately they are very powerful tools but together they open up a brand new way of sharing data with users in the form of dashboards.

To start with in this post I am going to cover the basics of creating a very simple dashboard.

Create the Data

Visio 2013 can connect to a multitude of data as you can see from the screenshot below of one of the data linking setup dialogues

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For this example we are going to use a very simple Excel spreadsheet that just contains two columns

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So our data sheet contains 4 students with their current grade, this is the data we will use to create the dashboards

Connecting the Data

Open Visio 2013 and create a blank diagram

Click on the Data tab on the ribbon and select Link Data to Shapes

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Select the source of your data, in this example the simple spreadsheet I showed earlier and click Next

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On the next screen you can browse for the data source, select it and click Next

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The next screen lets you select the worksheet or range of data you wish to use, as we don’t have much data I am going to use all of it

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If your data doesn’t have column headings you will need to remove the tick in the relevant box and then click Next

At the next screen we can select the columns & rows we want to include in our Visio diagram

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The key to keeping the dashboard current is refreshing data and  ensuring the right data gets refreshed, the best way of doing this is to use a unique ID for each set of data. The next screen allows you to specify the unique data field to use, in this case the UID column

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Click Next & Finish and you should then see your data at the bottom of the Visio window

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Creating a Data Graphic

So we now have a nice blank page with our data below it

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Lets drag one of the lines of data onto the page, to do this just click and hold the left mouse button on the line of data and drag it onto the diagram page

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As you can see we now have a white box with our data to the right of it

You should also be able to see a yellow square in the middle of the data, click and hold on this and you can drag the data shape into the whit box (it just looks a bit neater)

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Its a bit boring though, so lets change the data graphic. to do this right click on the graphic and select Data | Edit Data Graphic

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At the moment all the data is displayed as text, way too boring for this so lets change that

Click on the Grade line and select Edit Item

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Change the Displayed as to Data Bar, the style option will now change and give you options of how you want your data to be displayed.

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I am going to choose progress bar but there are quite a few choices, you can also use the Details section to change elements of how the data is displayed, such as changing the minimum and maximum values, font size etc

Once you have made your choice click Next

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Back at the Edit window click on Next and your data graphic should now be showing your choices

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Multiple Records

The example we have just worked through just shows adding one filed of data, but adding multiple fields is just as easy. Simply highlight all of the data and drag it onto the page

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You can then go through the same steps to organise the data graphics and assign display options

Refresh

Before we distribute the drawing we really should setup the refresh of the data so that when users have the drawing open they are getting up to date data

To do this right click on the External Data in the Visio window and select Configure Refresh

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Put a tick in the box for Automatic Refresh, select the time between refreshes and click OK

Saving

At this point you can save the Visio diagram as a drawing that you can then distribute to people, of course they will need Visio to view the diagram and access to the data location

Conclusion

So now you should have the basic skills to create a simple dashboard that uses external data to present to users, the next post will show how we can take these skills and produce a diagram that can be stored in SharePoint 2013 so that non Visio users can view the dashboard

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