Visio Love

John Marshall: “Back in the days of Visio 3.0, Visio was the first non Microsoft company to fully implement VBA, including the macro recorder. So, it should just be a matter of a few lines of VBA code.”

John is a long time Visio MVP and all around good guy.

Visio + VBA make for a powerful pairing. You can create all kinds of interesting stuff. John published a nice little hunk of VBA for populating a Master’s Prompt text from its Description text.

It’s worth noting that VBA is 23-years old as of this writing, it was introduced in 1993. It’s a mature, solid, technology. I loved working with it.

Business Visio

Ted Johnson’s Visio Recollections

The original Visio, four shapes, logo and application icon.Ted Johnson’s Visio Corporation Info: “In just over two years, we had started a company, built a team, raised two rounds of venture funding, designed, built, tested, documented, and taken-to-market the last highly-successful commercial desktop application.”

Great backstory on the inspiration for, and the creation of, Visio 1.0. Two years is all it took to create the first release.

Definitely software’s golden age.


Visio Mac? No.

David J. Parker: “My fellow Visio MVP, John Marshall (see, pointed out recently that Lucid Software claim to have a Visio for Mac application that offers import and export of real Visio files.”

This comes up every now and again. I have wanted Visio on the Mac for a very long time, but we already have it. The fine folks at The Omni Group created OmniGraffle so the Visio team wouldn’t have to port to the Mac.

There was, of course, a port of Visio to the Mac Classic at one time. It never saw the light of day.


Visio is 21 years old

It just hit me. Visio is 21 years old this month. When I started at Visio I was 24 years old. To date it was the most amazing experience of my software development life.

Happy Birthday, Visio. Here’s to many, many, more.

Life Visio

Saving Prince of Persia

Wired: “The geek squad’s goal is not simply to find out if Mechner’s old disks work. Today is about getting that old code out of its magnetic tomb and getting it onto the internet. That’s why they need Diaz’s Gordian knot of boxes and cables and not just any old Apple II — because Diaz has wired his computers into a network via Ethernet cable. Underneath, he plugs in a modern Dell laptop to serve as the receptacle for whatever treasures the crew manages to unearth.”

What a great story. A few years back I did something similar for some old floppies I’d been carrying around for years. They’ve been archived to DVD, but who knows how long that’ll last.

Once piece of code I grabbed off the floppies was my first Windows application, Tic-Tac-Toe. I’ve placed that code out of GitHub.

Maybe one of these days I’ll get around to posting more code out there. I have a whole bunch just collecting dust.

At one point I had a single 3.5″ floppily with all the source code to pre-Visio 1.0. I really wish I could find that. The UI, at the time, was so different than what was shipped. We had one tool, the pencil tool, and the toolbar icons were more rectangular. Not that I’d publish the source. I’d like to publish some screenshots.


My Visio Office

Back in 1993, maybe 1994, as Visio was growing we were running short on space. There was this little space that was essentially a closet and I thought it would make a great office, so I moved in.

I just ran across a picture of it while I was browsing through some old pictures.

My old Visio office.

There are some interesting things to point out, at least I think they’re interesting.

In the upper left you’ll notice what looks like a little blue motor, that’s because it is. Our space in Westlake Center was kind of funky. That blue motor operated a garage door that opened into a meeting room, which later became the office of our IT guy, Neal Myrick, if memory serves.

Will code C++ for food.On the door you’ll notice a notice a small piece of cardboard taped to it. That cardboard read “Will write C code for food.” I thought it had been lost forever then I happened across it when we moved from Exeter to San Luis Obispo. It’s safely packed away in storage.

On the shelves in the background you’ll notice pictures of my lovely wife, Kim, and our daughters; Haileigh and Taylor. Our girls were babies then, now they’re all grown up. Haileigh is married and Taylor is in college.

The top row on the shelves are some of the first copies of Visio 1.0 and 2.0 to roll off the assembly line. The Visio 2.0 boxes have a red 2.0 in the lower right corner of the yello Visio writing. Yes, we shipped software in boxes on things called floppy discs. John Marshall maintains a nice History of Visio page.

The hunk of acrylic sitting in front of the boxes is the Visio 1.0 “tombstone” given to each employee that worked on the product. It’s funny I don’t have a closeup to share. I think it was packed away with the rest of my Visio keepsakes, including a copy of every version of Visio I ever worked on.

On the second row of shelves you’ll notice three beer bottles. Red Hook ESB, Winter Hook, and Ballard Bitter. Yeah, I like their beer.

On my desk you’ll notice a blue coffee mug. It was our gift for shipping version 2.0. The mug is blue with Visio in yellow and a red 2.0 on the “O” in VISIO. Around the rim, on the inside, it says “Rob Fahrni.” I love that mug. When we find a permanent residence and I can dig out all my Visio memorabilia it’ll be put in a nice case with everything else.

The top picture on the wall behind my computer is a screen shot that includes an add-on I wrote for Visio called TPalette. It allowed you to create customizable floating tool palettes of different commands. It was pretty sweet. It was created at a time before Visio supported COM and automation. That version of our add-on API was all C based and was never released because Microsoft released OLE 2.0 and COM, the rest is history.