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Visio unveils next-generation tools

Visio will debut the next generation of its Windows-based business diagramming and drawing tools next week.

    Visio will debut the next generation of its Windows-based business diagramming and drawing tools next week.

    Visio Standard, Visio Professional, and Visio Technical will now share an identical 32-bit engine in the improved Visio 5.0 product line, set to ship later this month.

    "It's the first time that they will all be on one engine," said Mark Sherman, Visio's group product manager for the technical business unit. "We now have a basket of goods for everyone."

    The 32-bit graphics engine will boost the product's performance under both Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0, according to the company. The Visio 5.0 family now supports features including in-place editing for embedded objects and integration of ActiveX controls into Visio drawing.

    Visio believes the new product family will permit easy exchange of drawings among different functional groups and simplify corporate support and training requirements.

    Analyst John Dunkle of Workgroup Strategic Services said the new Visio product family has grown from an object and flowchart business tool to a full-featured application. "This really raises the bar for those who want to compete with Visio."

    Visio's competitors include Micrografx, Autodesk, and Intergraph.

    Because the product line shares the common 32-bit engine, Dunkle believes Visio has set the stage for a promising future.

    "Visio is saying, 'We're going to capture the next generation of Microsoft operating systems, and the future is today in 32-bits,'" he said.

    Visio Standard 5.0 is priced at $149, with an upgrade price of $99. Visio Technical and Visio Professional 5.0 are both priced at $349, with an upgrade price of $149.