Besides making great presentation graphics, Visio diagrams are visual repositories of shape information. You can export that information to a database or spreadsheet program or update that information based on the contents of a database or spreadsheet program. For example, suppose you want access to the furniture dimensions stored in an office layout to add to a planning database. You can export shape data, such as dimensions and other properties, to a database, which is a one-way procedure. Or suppose you want to associate shapes that represent parts with the specification data stored in a manufacturing database. You can also create a two-way link between database records and shapes. This latter feature gives you the ability to create dynamic diagrams that respond to data from an external source. In effect, your diagram becomes a visual front end to your database.
This chapter discusses the way Visio works with databases so that you can export shape properties and link shapes to databases.