Dev Luv: Distributing Custom Visio Stencils

Visio 2003 lets developers integrate their Visio content installation with a Windows Installer application. There are publish component table entries that can be added to MSI files to tell Visio about new Visio content (stencils, templates and add-ons). We added support for publish component table entries in Visio 2003; see this article for more information. All Visio native content starting with Visio 2003 is published through publish component table entries.


To simplify this process for developers, the Visio 2003 SDK ships a Solution Publishing tool. The Solution Publishing tool user interface makes it a lot easier to add these entries to an MSI file that is already set up to install your stencils, templates and/or add-ons. 


Before Visio 2003 released with the Windows Installer support, you had a couple of options for distributing custom solutions.

  1. Send the .vss file to the user and have them copy it to their My Shapes folder. This is usually found under My Documents.
  2. If you don’t want to send users the .vss file and the users are on the same network domain:
    1. Create a network share and place your .vss files there.
    2. Have your users add a stencil path to their Visio settings (you can also do this programmatically through the Visio OM).

                                    i. In Visio, click the Tools menu, and then select Options.

                                    ii. Click on the Advanced tab. Click File Paths.

                                    iii. In the Stencils textbox, type in the path to the network share that contains .vss files.


You can also use these methods in Visio 2003,but it might look a little weird to your users since by default, the paths of all Visio templates, stencils, add-ons, startup add-ons, and Help files are now blank (since we switched to using publish component tables instead of the path).


-- Mai-lan

This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.