Microsoft Visio for SVG output?



Does anyone have any thoughts on the idea of using Visio to create SVG files, either as originally developed in Visio itself or using it to convert DXF to SVG file formats?

It’s been a while since I last used Visio but I still have a legal copy from MS Office Pro so it might be an alternative program to use before digging into Corel Draw, Inkscape, or Illustrator. I know that it reads DXF files so it should be capable of converting DXF files from my CAD program to SVG format. It also reads SVG so that might be useful to read public domain files.


Is it a program you will want to use other than to convert from other programs?


I used to be a huge fan of Visio back to the mid-1990s for floor plans, network diagram, etc. I also used it to design woodworking projects. I still have a copy of Visio 2010 on my work computer. I’d think it would work fine for designing for the Glowforge since it can output SVG. If that’s a tool you are comfortable with, it should be a good option.


Possibly. I used to be fairly proficient with it, but that was for engineering diagrams rather than creative art and I expect that Vision will be pretty deficient there. Mostly it seems like a bridge at this point to get my feet wet with cut file generation for the GF so I figured it was good question for the forum since I don’t think it has been discussed much, if at all. It’s the only software I use right now that can generate an SVG file so that’s certainly an attraction.


Thanks, that was my thinking. Was it just me or did they totally hose the UI for Visio sometime around the 2003 version?


I don’t remember a major UI change but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I have largely drifted away from it because I use CorelDraw and Vectric Aspire for the majority of my design work. I still use it for one quarterly visual report graphic and about once a year for a network diagram, rack layout diagram or floor plan for my IT consulting job.


As an enterprise architect dude speaking here… I’ve used Visio quite a bit for creating diagrams and such over the years. I’ve found that while it can be powerful, and it might be familiar, it has enough quirks that irritate the obsessive compulsive in me. Judging from the list of other titles you mentioned, 2D seems important to you. Visio isn’t a bad place to start.

I’m a fairly big fan of Sketchup (Make edition is fine) because I find it to be both a “poor man’s 3D” as well as a “rich man’s 2D”. If you’re intimidated by the steeper learning curve of a full-on 3D CAD program, it can help to quickly frame your ideas for a “higher level” (3D!). It does DXF and SVG files, and I’ve used it to both import and create 2D files just as easily.

As for the history of Visio’s UI, ugh… don’t get me started. With Office 2003, they went with the whole “Office Ribbon” thing. You either love it or hate it, but if you really want to understand it (read: your brain bleed through your ears), I recommend “Microsoft Visio 2013 Business Process Diagramming and Validation” by David J. Parker.


It should work broadly speaking, but most SVG-writing programs have a few bugs in their output that require some work to run smoothly. When we get an SVG that doesn’t behave right (just had this happen when someone did a design in Keynote for Laser Thursday) we put it in the hopper to fix.

So - yes, you can use it, but expect some bumps at first and it may not work out of the gate.


Could @dan or someone else expand on that? What sorts of problems is one likely to run into with SVG output?

In the CAD world, I know that a sketch imported as a DXF file from one program can have issues when imported into another. For example a rectangle sketch with all sides closed in Program 1 can be seen in Program 2 as a set of four unconstrained lines. In that case the rectangle can’t be extruded to a solid (without further work) because the endpoints on adjacent lines must be exactly coincident.

If that is the the sort of problem one can expect, how would it be fixed once it gets to the GF?


Thanks for the input. You are certainly right about the quirks. If nothing else, zoom and pan work completely different to the other drawing software I’ve used. My preferred design tools right now are either Geomagic Design or Onshape, both of which are 3D parametric modelers and neither of which supports SVG output.

They both export DXF, though, and since Visio can read DXF and export SVG, it might make a decent conversion utility if the different export and import functions in both work well enough. From what @dan says, it looks like that might be a problem.


I don’t know if I’d agree with that particular statement. :slight_smile:
I find that trying to rely on it for conversion between formats is a bit of a dog’s breakfast, regardless of the application (as a general rule). I seem to recall trying to incorporate it into my workflow (same, DXF to SVG and vice-versa) and complex designs can confuse it.

Have you discovered this thread?


Looks like I’d better be prepared for a solution other than Visio then. I’ll give it a shot when the time comes, but will have Inkscape and Corel Draw as backups. Illustrator isn’t an option. I really don’t like paying monthly for software that is used for only a few days a month, at best.


A reasonable reason to procreate: Children get Education discounts on software from some organizations, such as Adobe. Granted, Adobe only offers it in a bundle, so you have to buy it all… but it’s still an excuse. :slight_smile:


I stopped upgrading at Creative Cloud. My workhorse is Corel which I tend to keep current (running X8 now). Use Inkscape under duress (for teaching courses on lasers where the students might not have any paid tools).


I had access to an Epilog laser where for nebulous reasons the primary print tool was Visio. It did work but its really not great. And at the end of the day your design masters are in .vsd files…

As for what kind of things go wrong in SVG output. I have seen stroke width problems (which may affect raster vs. vector), lines that don’t quite touch when you thought they did, and myriad other subtle annoying things.

For people on macs, I’d recommend checking out Affinity Designer.


In a nutshell, yes, that’s a good example. But we also find files where they simply have errors in the SVG file that we have to detect and correct.

The workaround is usually to import it into software we’ve done more work with, like Illustrator or Inkscape, and save it out again. Plus let us know - we’ll work to accept SVGs from everywhere, but it will take a while for us to get there.


I’m afraid that’s not very likely at this stage in life. After hearing what my divorced friend spent on 5 years of college, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.


That’s what I was afraid of. CAD programs sometimes have the same problem with DXF file imports and exports. One of the nice things about standards is that there are so many of them:slight_smile:


Thanks - I’ll be sure to forward on any problem SVG files to GF support, though it’s hardly fair to blame GF for problem SVG exports from a 3rd party software program. Perhaps this will come up for discussion when the GF is out in the wild and users have a chance to see where SVG problems occur.


True enough. I’ll hit the big million $ mark with my daughter. :scream:

But then we’re done with college and can spend it on ourselves. :grinning: