Visio tools will take XML road

Microsoft to add Visio shapes to BizTalk server.

The Visio diagramming tools acquired by Microsoft early this year will find their way into a variety of products that will help users visualise concepts and data.

"There are a whole lot of Microsoft tools that could use some visualisation, such as seeing what the Active Directory looks like, or how I model my network to see how it looks with and without Windows 2000," said Jeremy Jaech, vice president of Microsoft’s business tools division and the founder of Visio.

Visio will also provide the visualisation element in BizTalk Server, Microsoft’s XML framework product, and when Visio 10 is released this summer, it is likely to use the object markup language as its basis.

"The native file format will probably be XML unless there are real performance penalties," said Jaech. "We’re moving to a new architecture to break the content piece away from the rest of the code."

Jaech said Visio will examine new ways of distributing the product, beginning with a subscription-based version of Visio Network Equipment that will let users download new shape objects from the Web. Further out, Visio could be integrated with other Microsoft applications but will remain a premium-priced product, Jaech said.

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