Share Visio diagrams with almost anyone with SVG

If you’re a BA who does most of your diagramming with Visio, you no doubt know that it’s not uncommon to want to share your work with someone who does not have Visio installed on their computer.

Most BA’s I know get around this by embedding the diagram in a Word or PowerPoint file, since almost everyone in a business environment has those applications available to them.  Or possibly even into Excel.  But embedding your diagram into a different Office application has its downsides.  The diagram is often re-sized, is constrained to the ‘page’ size, and often loses resolution or visual quality.

Another alternative many BA’s use is to save the Visio file as a PDF.  And while most people have Adobe Reader or an equivalent installed, this adds bloat to the file can put into a less intuitive interface.

One option I don’t see used often is to save the file from Visio to the SVG (or Scalable Vector Graphic) format.  SVG has the advantage of being designed for images, especially line-based images, and of being natively supported by a wide range of web browsers.  SVG also has the benefit of being a vector image format (as the name states), which means that the diagram can be scaled up or down to whatever size the user prefers without losing ANY resolution or sharpness.

This makes SVG files easy to share with anyone who has a modern browser.  You can also share them on a project website (as an embedded image even), email, or similar location with an expectation that most users will be able to view them in a high-quality way.

If you want to give SVG a try, just pick a diagram in Visio and “Save as …” to the Scalable Vector Format file option.  Double-click the resulting file and it should open in your default browser.

SVG files are supported in the following browsers:

  • IE 9 to 11 (however, IE does not always scale SVG graphics correctly)
  • FireFox versions 31 and 36+
  • Chrome versions 31 and 36+
  • Safari versions 7+ (and IOS Safari 7+)
  • Opera versions 28+

It may not be seem to be immediately worth it to you, but I recommend you give it a try as I have found the SVG versions of Visio diagrams retain their sharpness better, scale well, and to be more user friendly than converting to PDF, Word, or PowerPoint format.  If you don’t see the same results, than nothing is lost except a few minutes of your time.  If you do like the results, then maybe you have a new option for sharing Visio diagrams in an easier way.

If you have other suggestions for sharing diagrams to stakeholders who may not have Visio, please add them to the comments.

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