Microsoft Visio Professional 2002 [Old Version]
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Visio Professional 2002 is a multipurpose tool that allows you to create intelligent, precise technical diagrams and drawings. Users can model real-world requirements and relationships, incorporate detailed data, and reflect accurate dimensions. It provides intuitive drawing tools and easy-to-use diagramming solutions that allow users to focus on their work, not the working environment. Visio Professional 2002 combines and improves upon the functionality of Visio 2000 Technical and Professional, taking all the functionality of Visio Standard and adding specific shapes and diagrams for a wide range of engineering- and computer-related applications.
There is a wide range of improvements new to this version, including enhanced graphics, text, and color, as well as the ability to import and manipulate images from other sources. New online resources help users stay current and get more value from Visio 2002. Also, you can publish diagrams to the Web that are more attractive and effective. New and improved features streamline the process of rolling out and maintaining Visio 2002 across an organization. The program offers improved property reporting and database connectivity, more powerful search capabilities, and a streamlined work environment. Developers gain greater flexibility in creating custom Visio applications through support for COM add-ins, a new XML file format, and more than 90 new automation methods.
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A drawback on the current version is that it's much more difficult to drill down to specific shapes/text boxes included in a group than it used to be in older versions.
One quite bizarre example is the database module for ER diagramming: It will REVERSE engineer a database beautifully, but... why would I want to do that if I can't use the diagram for anything but documentation purposes? So you think to yourself, "well, ok, I have ERwin, so I'll just export it to that...", but then you find out that Visio can IMPORT an ERwin model, but not export one??? What a strange omission! If Visio could export an ERwin model, I could buy ONE seat of a $4000 forward engineering database tool, and innumerable seats of $400 Visio! Then I could export to ERwin, forward engineer, and have my whole team using a very approachable, inexpensive tool to boot! I don't know, maybe even Microsoft if afraid of the mighty, abusive, litigous Computer Associates! This is kind of like the Dead Sea of software products: It will take you in, but you'll never get out!
In the software portion, it also is pretty much a dead end for forward engineering, although very cool and complete for documentation purposes, but Microsoft is also very tight with Rational and doesn't want to upset that apple cart either. One thing I was disappointed about was that nothing showed up as far as Java, C#, or .NET data types. I thought this was a little weird, as that's kind of the reason I upgraded. I didn't install it on my .NET server though, so maybe if you do that it picks that up, but to leave out Java is a little bit of an omission, I think.
On the plus side, the interface is beautiful, it does everything but the kitchen sink documentation wise, the shapes and the way they interact is downright magical, and the thing below about the software registration is really overblown: The only thing they make you provide is the country you reside in. In fact, it says right on the CD case "Don't lose this number! You must use it EVERY TIME you install this software." Microsoft is realistic: they know that you will most likely put it on at least two of your computers, and they're not in panic mode.
Bottom line: The best "single source" documentation tool ever devised is Visio 2002.
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1. Open the UML diagram file that represents your system.