Use an external list with Visio

Using Microsoft Visio 2013, you can link data from an external list to a diagram and it’s shapes. You can then publish the diagram to a SharePoint document library as an interactive Web drawing so users can display the diagram and view the associated external data.

For more information, see Find content about external data and Use Visio Services with Secure Store Service in SharePoint 2013.

What do you want to do?


Before you begin

Working with external data requires several pre-requisite tasks to enable secure access to the data. The following information can help you plan your next steps. Also, if you experience problems trying to work with external data, this information can help you identify the issue. To access external data, you or an administrator must do the following:

Prepare the external data source    An administrator may need to create an account and provide permissions to the data source to ensure that the right people have access to the data and that the data does not end up in the wrong hands. In an external database, the administrator may also want to create specific tables, views, queries, and so on to limit the results to just what is needed and to help improve performance.

Configure SharePoint services and accounts    An administrator must activate Business Data Connectivity Services, Secure Store Service, and Visio Services.

Configure Secure Store Services    An administrator must do the following: determine the best access mode for the external data source, create a target application, and set the credentials for the target application.

Configure Business Data Connectivity Services    An administrator must ensure that the user who creates the external content type has permission to the Business Data Connectivity metadata store and that appropriate users have access to the external content type that the external list is based on.

Create an external content type    A user must define an external content type which contains information about connections, access, methods of operation, columns, filters, and other metadata used to retrieve the data from the external data source.

Create an external list    A user must create an external list based on the external content type and one or more views of the external list as needed.

Make sure Office products are ready for use    To synchronize external data with Office products, you must have Windows 7 or later and the following free software products, SQL Server Compact 4.0, .NET Framework 4, and WCF Data Services 5.0 for OData V3 on each client computer (If necessary, you are automatically prompted to download the software). Also, make sure the Office installation option, Business Connectivity Services is enabled (This is the default). This option installs the Business Connectivity Services Client Runtime which does the following: caches and synchronizes with external data, maps business data to external content types, displays the external item picker in Office products, and runs custom solutions inside Office products.

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Connect the data in the external list to a Visio diagram

  1. In Visio 2013, click Data > Link Data to Shapes.
  2. Select Microsoft SharePoint Foundation list, and then click Next.
  3. On the Select a site page, enter the URL of the SharePoint site where your external list is located, and then click Next.
  4. On the Select a list page, select the external list, and then click Finish.
  5. Link the rows of data to shapes in your drawing.

There are three ways to link rows of data to shapes in your drawing. You can link rows to existing shapes one at a time, you can link the rows to shapes automatically, or you can create shapes from the data. Find more information about linking rows of data to shapes in the Visio help system.

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Save a Visio diagram to a SharePoint document library

  1. Open the diagram in Visio 2013.
  2. Click File, and then click Save As.
  3. Locate the SharePoint site and document library where you want to publish the diagram.
  4. Under Save as type, select Visio Drawing (.vsdx).
  5. Enter a file name.
  6. Click Save.

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Open the Visio diagram in the browser

  1. Navigate to the SharePoint library that contains the diagram you published as a Web drawing.
  2. To open the diagram, click the name.
  3. Click and drag the diagram around to view specific parts, and use the zoom tools on the toolbar to change the size of the diagram.
  4. To make the entire diagram visible in the browser window, click the Zoom to fit in view button on the toolbar.
  5. To view up-to-date data from the external list, click Refresh on the toolbar.


Changes in the data source might not be immediately reflected by refreshing a diagram, depending on the data caching settings for Visio Services.

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Applies to:
SharePoint Online Enterprise (E3 & E4), SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Enterprise (E3 & E4), SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise