Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Visio Services and Dashboarding : Visio Web Acces web part

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In the Microsoft Business Intelligence eco-system, the entire or major presentation part of the business intelligence solution is hosted as of day on Sharepoint 2010. Performancepoint Services, Visio Services, Excel Services and Silverlight can be seen as major or crucial constituents of the dashboarding solution on the Sharepoint platform. As a solution provider, I believe that one needs to have a vision of overall picture of the eco-system than keeping the focal point on only one technology, as an entire solution can never be delivered on the back on a single technology, whether it may be SSIS / SSAS / SSRS / PPS or any other part of the Microsoft BI Solution Deck. By this I am not denying the fact that one needs to develop an expertise in at least one technology of choice to keep oneself in the front league of the business, but still having an idea of how the nuts and bolts fit together is very essential in my viewpoint.

The most unnoticed part in the MS BI eco-system is Visio Services, and some would even argue that it is not even a part of BI. But in my viewpoint, just SSIS, SSAS and SSRS do not complete the MS BI solution. Coming to the point now, we know that we can create data-driven visio diagrams which can be hosted on sharepoint 2010 and visio services enables viewing of the same over a browser page.

The point of focus of this post is a web-part in Sharepoint 2010 that is dedicated to Visio much like the Silverlight web part. This web-part is called "Visio Web Access" web part under the "Office Client Applications" category. When we create a dashboard in Sharepoint 2010, we can add this web part and host our data driven (or static) visio diagram (which should be hosted on sharepoint 2010) in this web part, and it contains all the properties specific to customize the viewing of this diagram. The most interesting part of this web part is that data driven visio diagrams hosted in this web part can be linked with other web-parts, so that context sensitive data can be presented on the dashboard. Read this post for a detailed tutorial on Visio Web Access web part.

The steps towards using this web part from a very higher level can be as below:

1) Create your dashboard using Performancepoint 2010 dashboard designer and deploy it on sharepoint.
2) On the dashboard hosting page, create a visio web-access web part and specify the location of the visio file (.vdw). BTW, this web part also facilitates display using Silverlight, if installed.
3) Link this web part to other scorecards on your dashboard, to make it context sensitive.

Please keep in view that above mentioned are my views, and derived from the features published on the documentation of Sharepoint 2010. I have not tried it out, because as of this draft, I have not got a chance to get my hands on the same. But sooner or later, I should be able to manage a hands-on experience on the same and extract more tried and tested solution recipes.

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