Linking and Embedding in Visio

Visio diagrams very often become part of a larger project and may be included in Word documents, PowerPoint presentations or Excel files.  One of the easiest methods of extending the functionality of Visio is by using hyperlinks either to launch Visio and open a drawing when a hyperlink in another programme is clicked, or by linking to a Visio drawing that takes the reader to another screen.

Another method often used is to embed copies of the drawing into another application; this allows editing to take place in the destination programme but does make the file size a good deal larger. On the positive side, an embedded object cannot suffer from a broken link as can sometimes happen with linking from or to Visio.

Linking to a Visio Drawing

Visio files can also be saved in a variety of formats including images.  Saving them in this way prevents them from being edited, but it does make them viewable by anyone that does not have Visio installed on their computer. Examples include saving Visio documents as drawings, pictures or as web pages.

Linking with Visio Hyperlink shapes

There are a number of ways of inserting a hyperlink into a Visio drawing linking it to another file, website or place in the Visio drawing.  There are special Hyperlink shapes provided specifically for the purpose which can be accessed from the Borders and Titles stencil and which are obvious to anyone viewing the drawing.  Hovering a mouse pointer over the Hyperlink shape changes the pointer into a pointing finger and shows a tool tip of the path that will be followed when clicked.  As an alternative, a hyperlink may be placed on an individual shape within a drawing.  This is not as obvious as the first method, because the shape must be hovered over before the link is visible, but it is useful when navigating from one page to a continuation page.

Linking by adding an Off Page Hyperlink

Another way of using hyperlinks is by making the whole page a link to another, for example a timeline or a project calendar linking back to the Microsoft project file it summarises.  The default icons that Visio inserts as hyperlinks can easily be changed by right clicking on the shape and selecting one of the 12 alternatives — Home, Back, Next, Help etc.  Visio will use a Relative path — one that is relative to the location of the drawing — by default, but if you want to specify an Absolute path, you can specify the location in the hyperlink dialogue box that you must clear the Relative Path checkbox first.

There is a fundamental difference between using hyperlinks in this way and OLE technologies which stands for Object Linking and Embedding.  With linking, the object is shown in the destination application is actually exists in the.  This makes updating any data changes very easy, but it does mean that the link between the two files can be broken if the source file is moved.  Embedding, on the other hand, puts a separate copy of the file in the destination application meaning that any changes made to the original will not be reflected in the copy.  Embedded files can be edited by double-clicking to open, and they are easier to distribute because all the data is contained within the file and does not rely on a link.  Which method you choose depends entirely on the circumstances, but both have their pros and cons.

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