Microsoft Visio Viewer Diagram Tool Arrives on Apple iPad

Diagrams leap from the desktop and land on Apple iOS tablets with Microsoft's new Visio Viewer for iPad. Visio has been Microsoft's mainstay diagramming tool on Windows for decades.

Visio Viewer iPad 2

Visio diagrams leap from the desktop and land on Apple's tablet in the company's new viewer app for iOS.

Microsoft has released public previews of its Visio Viewer for iPad (iOS 9.0 and above) and Visio Online, the company announced on Dec. 8.

Visio is used by millions of users to visualize everything from simple organizational charts to complex processes. The advent of high-resolution touch screens, like the one used in the Apple's iPad tablet line, encouraged Microsoft to encourage a native viewing app that preserves the visual detail provided by the Visio desktop software.

"Built for iPad Retina display, Visio Viewer for iPad brings high-fidelity viewing of real-world processes and plans on the go," wrote the Microsoft Visio team in a blog post. "With the new exploration experience, plant managers can zoom in to production line issues from remote facilities, financial advisors can examine detailed workflows of a loan approval process while visiting clients around the world, retail district managers can conduct store management trainings with associates using detailed CAD-based store layouts and much more."

The app supports visualization layers, essentially allowing users to peel away portions of a Visio file and filter out unwanted information. A search pane enables user to locate items by shape name, text or data. Alternately, users can pan and zoom to explore diagrams and find the information they're looking for.

A version for the iPhone is in the works and should be released in the coming months, according to Microsoft. The company is also reportedly working on an Android app.

Bringing similar functionality to web browsers, Visio Online supports data-linked diagrams, allowing it to serve as an operational dashboard that displays real-time data. In August, Microsoft introduced a one-step data linking capability that "makes it easier to surface live data on top of real-world designs, processes and plans," said Stella Lin, product marketing manager at Microsoft Visio, in an Aug. 30 announcement video.

Lin demonstrated how using an office management diagram, users can import employee information from an Excel workbook. Visio automatically identifies the relevant employee data, imports the required data rows, links the data to shapes and applies the necessary graphical elements. The result is a fully populated office seating chart. When linked to live data sources, like an IT monitoring platform, Visio can be used to display the current operating status of an office's IT systems or a server rack.

Both the iPad and online versions of Visio support OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online cloud storage and sharing functionality.

Microsoft also recently opened up the third-party cloud sharing options for Android users who use Office on the go. Last week, Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office, announced that its Cloud Storage Partner Program (CSPP) ecosystem had been enabled on Office on Android.

"It's easy to add a cloud storage provider from the Add a place menu in the latest versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on Android," blogged Koenigsbauer. "Then you can edit and share your documents stored with that provider as easily as you do with those stored on OneDrive."

Currently, Office for Android supports the Dropbox, Box, Egnyte and Tencent storage clouds. Soon, Microsoft hopes to add Citrix ShareFile, Edmodo and Learnium to the mix.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...