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John Blight on Visio's Drawing Explorer


Visio's Drawing Explorer

Visio's Drawing Explorer is a useful tool for analysing the content of a Visio drawing, and can identify issues that may otherwise be hidden or difficult to address.

Displaying the Drawing Explorer

Visio 2003, Visio 2007 - View > Drawing Explorer Window Visio 2010 - Developer tab > check 'Drawing Explorer' Note: In Visio 2010, the 'Developer' tab is invisible by default. To enable it:

  1. File > Options.
  2. Click 'Advanced'.
  3. Under 'General', check 'Run in developer mode'.
  4. Click OK.

Drawing Content

The Drawing Explorer is a collapsible tree-view of the drawing's content.


You may notice that there are shapes listed that aren't apparent on the drawing (and there's nothing behind the Drawing Explorer window).

The 'Info' and 'Hyperlink circle 1' shapes are hidden behind others, and the 'Dynamic connector.35' shape has zero dimensions.


Non-Triaster Shapes

Process Navigator may report the presence of non-Triaster shapes, which can interfere with functionality, e.g. Export to Excel. There is a specific report, available from Report Exchange or from Process Navigator, that can identify such shapes. The name of the shape is usually given, and so it can be easily highlighted in Drawing Explorer.

Connectors that aren't glued to other shapes at each of their ends are usually identified as non-Triaster shapes.


A glued end is depicted by a red square, an unglued end by a green one (or blue, depending on the version of Visio). The connector shape has to be selected for this to be evident. If a connection isn't glued, it won't be recognised by Process Navigator, and so neither will a shape's position within the flow of the map. In this example, the final Deliverable won't be recognised as an output of the process map, although visually it's obvious that it should be.

These are all examples of observations made on real maps, and Drawing Explorer has been a valuable tool in addressing them.

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