Unofficial Visio 2000 FAQ (and a few comments on V2002)
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This page is my unofficial attempt to capture some frequently-asked questions and answers from the Visio newsgroups. The newsgroups are at:, and search for microsoft.public.visio.*.  Being a personal effort, at the moment it's not nearly as comprehensive as other online FAQs, but hopefully it will save users (and prospective answerers) some time.

2002-08-15: After a lengthy period of neglect, I'm adding some comments on a few points.  First, I've changed the title of this page, to indicate that it primarily originates with V2000, though there are a number of places I've now added updates or comments pertaining to V2002. Search for "2002" to see these.

General Advice
  • Digging for Answers


  • V2K Installation problems: Separate page.
  • Where can I download Visio 2000 Service Release 1 (SR-1)?
  • Is Visio 2000 really this much slower than Visio 5?
  • Visio 2000 crashes at launch or unpredictably
  • Visio Demo crashes on launch with message from VBox.


  • Visio 2000 prints blank pages at various odd times, such as during Save.
  • How do I get X-sized drawings to fit on Y-sized pages?


  • Is there a Visio Viewer?
  • Some shapes don't appear when exported to other formats

Network Diagramming

  • VNE Network subscription update?


  • How do I get started?
  • My code is doing something unexpected (general things to try).
General Advice
Digging for Answers: Where to look.

The obvious places:

  • The User Manual
  • Help (note that Developer Reference Help is separate from regular user Help).
  • Developing Visio Solutions: Often good for advanced end-user issues as well. If you don't have a printed copy, note that it comes in a PDF on the Visio CD.
  • Various places on MS website, see my list, including the Knowledge Base and MS's Visio FAQs (go to Knowledge Base, get Search window, fill in [About:] Visio 2000, [My question is:] "FAQ")
  • The newsgroups at:, and search for microsoft.public.visio.*.

Less-obvious places:

  • The newsgroups are indexed at (2002: now newsgroups. This is an invaluable resource for Visio or any other product that has newsgroups. If you are unfamiliar with deja, here are some tips.
    • From, find a link for "Usenet", or "Search Internet Discussions".
    • In the Search Discussions page, enter search terms as usual, and be sure to select "all" rather than "recent".
  • Other resources that I list here.
Visio 2000 Installation Problems: Gets it's own special page here.  V2002 update: The installation for V2002 is much more sensible, that is to say it makes better use of MSI. If you are in a position of choosing which version of Visio to install, there are other factors of course, but the installation alone for V2002 is a major point to recommend it.

Where can I download Visio 2000 Service Release 1 (SR-1)?

2000-10-30 GW: I have given up trying to track whether or not SR-1 is actually available for download. Sorry!

Is Visio 2000 really this much slower than Visio 5?

2000-01-01 GW: If installed successfully Visio 2000 is generally faster than V5. However, there are a variety of mishaps or incompatibilities that can slow things down, and I don't have anywhere close to the full picture. One definite area to be alert to is that Visio (and other graphics-intensive packages) exercise video cards and drivers in ways that those drivers may not ordinarily see. Thus Visio is particularly vulnerable to driver bugs  It's always worth checking that you have the latest video driver installed (check video card manufacturer's site.)

Visio 2000 crashes at launch or unpredictably

2000-01-01 GW: Crashing software could be caused by a variety of issues. As noted in the "this much slower?" item, Visio is particularly susceptible to video driver problems, so check that first.  Also of course use the latest version of Visio, (at the moment SR-1).  For what it's worth, I use Visio 2000 extensively, often for hours a day, and it goes for weeks without crashing.  (V2002 Update: same for V2002).  Your mileage, of course, may vary.

Other Installation Problems

A variety of installation problems that have been reported on the newsgroups, particularly in association with network and silent installs. Check the Visio FAQs on MS's site. In particular, check:

Visio 2000 Trial CD crashes on launch with message from VBox

2000-09-01 GW: VBox is a product from Preview Systems, a company that developed the Visio trial CD. They use this vbox technology to wrap around an application to some how enable it to time bomb properly. There are apparently numerous reports that this CD often doesn't work. Visio and Preview Systems are investigating. Bottom line: at this time there is no simple fix.

Visio 2000 prints blank pages at various odd times, such as during Save.  This was reported especially in conjunction with HP printers. It appears to be caused by Visio checking the printer driver at various times (to get font and page measurement info) and the driver (possibly erroneously?) interpreting that as a good time to eject a page.

2000-09-01 GW:  Here is a collection of messages relating to the "Save File Causes Print" problem.  Thanks to Lara for collecting it. The whole thread is on, as described above under "general advice".

Date: January 13, 2000 10:56 PM, Author: Dan Albertson, Visio Division of Microsoft

The issue you've reported is a known one with certain printer drivers. We did identify several common printers with which this might occur and wrote settings in the Windows Registry at installation time to work around the problem. The appropriate setting may not be present in your installation or you may be using a printer driver that we had not identified. Regardless, we should be able to get your situation resolved.

NOTE: The solution will involve editing or adding a value in the Windows Registry. Any changes made to the Registry other than that described below may negatively impact Windows or other applications. If you have questions about editing the registry, contact your System Administrator or consult your Windows documentation.

1. Determine the printer driver your printer uses by choosing Start > Settings > Printers, right-clicking your printer, and selecting Properties. In the Properties dialog for your printer, look for the field where your printer driver is identified and note the exact wording (e.g. "HP LaserJet 8000 Series PCL 6")

2. Click on the Start button, select Run, and then type regedit and click OK. The Registry Editor appears.

3. Navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Visio\Visio 2000\PrinterSupport\9x key.

4. Double-click the key, and look for any printer drivers that are identified in the right pane of the Registry Editor window. If your printer is identified, double click the printer name and in the next dialog, change the value data to '7' and click OK.  If your printer is not identified, click on the Edit menu, select New/DWORD Value. Type the name of your printer driver and hit Enter. Next, double click on the printer name, enter the value of '7', and click OK.

 NOTE from GW: when you type the name of your printer driver at this stage it must match EXACTLY the name you read in Properties dialog in step 1

5. Close the Registry Editor.

 But wait, that's not all...

Lara posted:
 [...]for the benefit of those who may have missed I go again! I have finally found a fix that works for me, here it is. Run regedit and go to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Visio\Visio 2000\PrinterSupport\9x
Click Edit-New-DWORD value. In the New Value enter the name of the Printer Driver Ex. HP LaserJet 4050 Series PCL 6 
When that is finished, right click on the new value and select Modify In the Value Data box enter 7 (it is the same value in either hex or decimal)
This solution was posted on the group however they said the key would be found under HKEY_CURRENT_USER, but I couldn't find it there and poked around a bit by myself and found this. It works like a charm for me.

"Steve Kanoski" wrote:
I have a similar problem. I get many jobs up to (15 a minute) created while I am using Visio. Everytime I click on or move an icon it seems to create a bunch of jobs. I am using an HP 4050N on an NT network. I fixed my problem by using HP 4 drivers. Good luck.

Milton Hee wrote:
I had this same problem but it would happen when I just move the mouse into the drawing area or anytime I move in the window. Tried the regedit fix but it did not work. I think I fixed it by using the laserjet 5 driver as the default instead of the laserjet PCL 6 driver. So far it seems to work.

...and in the "if all else fails" category...

Mike Cox wrote
The regedit does not work for me: printing to a LaserJet 4050 and pages spew out if I even click the window. Set default to Acrobat Writer to try and save trees!

How do I get X-sized drawings to fit on Y-sized pages?

This is really the larger question of how to understand the Visio notions of drawing, paper, scale and zoom.  There's really nothing to do but resolve to take some time and thoroughly explore these features by reading the manual and becoming familiar with the various tabs of the Page Setup dialog. Some tips:

First realize that Visio has the following separate notions, corresponding to three separate tabs in the Page Setup dialog:

  • Drawing Scale: What one inch (or cm) on the drawing corresponds to in the domain you are drawing: eg: 1 inch of drawing corresponds to 1 foot of house.  Of course for conceptual drawings (like flowcharts) units are meaningless, so the scale is usually set to 1 inch = 1 inch.
  • Page Size: This means Drawing Page Size and orientation, and is independent of the paper on which you may later print.  This determines how many inches (or cms) of drawing space you are going to work within. (Yes you can stick shapes in the blue area outside the drawing page, but those shapes won't print, export etc.)  Obviously when multiplied by the drawing scale, this also determines the size of the domain space (say 8' 6" by 11') you are going to have available.

    Note that you can specify different Page Size and Orientation for each separate Drawing Page in your document, though the Page Setup dialog doesn't make this obvious. However note the collision with Print Setup described below.
  • Print Setup: This is where you select the actual size of paper that you are going to print upon. If you have set your Page size and orientation to something other than the same as the printer, then this tab wants you to select how to resolve this: print drawing pages to multiple printer pages, or zoom the drawing pages to smaller size so that they fit (or spread across fewer pages). 

    Unfortunately, Print Setup parameters apply to the whole document, not individual pages. Consequently, though you can specify different sizes and orientations for each Drawing Page, when printing those drawing pages are all rendered on printer pages that are the same size and orientation.  This is not a complete show-stopper: suppose you have a mix of Portrait and Landscape oriented drawing pages, you can first set the Print Setup to Portrait and print those pages, then switch to Landscape and print the landscape drawing pages.  Tedious but it works.
  • Page Size = Same as Printer:  This setting on the Page Size tab tells Visio to simply make your Drawing Page size the same as the paper size selected in the Print Setup tab.  This is often what you want, but not always.

Further Suggestions

  • View > Ruler
  • View > Page Breaks. This shows you the area of the Drawing Page that will (and won't) appear on each Printer Paper Page. Essential for understanding the relationship between Visio Drawing Page and Printer Paper.
  • If you don't normally, try experimenting with a scaled drawing (say in architectural units) to get clear on how Drawing Page size and Drawing Scale work
  • Be clear on the distinction between "Print Zoom" and Drawing Scale (and for that matter viewing-window zoom).
Is there a (Free) Visio Viewer?

Big 2002 Update

Yes, there is now a Visio Viewer, and you can track it down by visiting, and searching for Knowledge Base Article Q312849, which has the surprising title, "Visio: General Information About Microsoft Visio Viewer Web Component".

But, if for some reason you are in a position of wanting to explore other non-viewer methods for presenting Visio drawings, preserve here is the a list of ideas from pre-viewer days:

For presenting Visio Drawings on Web Browser:

  • If you have a captive audience (like on intranet) you might arrange for the users to have Visio installed on their machines (possibly you only need Standard), then Visio can be invoked in the browser window, like other apps such as Word or Excel.
  • A high-quality view can be presented by saving a drawing as a PDF, for which you need Adobe Acrobat Distiller. This requires users to have Acrobat installed, but that is quite common. Users can view the PDF in the browser window, or download it and view it in Acrobat's window. Quality excellent.
  • You can save the Visio drawing in GIF (good resolution for on-screen viewing) or JPG (poor in my opinion), and present these on a web page as you would any other GIF or JPG.
  • You can use the "Save As HTML" feature to save GIF+HTML page wrapper. 
  • You can SaveAs HTML with VML which provides good quality vector images that can be viewed on VML-capable browsers such as IE 5.x.

Unrelated to Web Browser

  • You can copy Visio drawing and Paste (Paste Special > Metafile or WMF) into Word, then provide Word doc to other users.
  • You can save Visio vsd with Preview enabled. (V5: first page only, V2K all pages). Other users can use programs that can view previews to look at Visio vsd. Example program:  QuickView Plus from  A fellow newsgroup participant reported quality as quite good if Visio file preview properties set to "detailed".

Some shapes don't appear when exported to other formats.

2000-09-01 GW: Especially reported in conjunction with the Network stencils. Seems to apply to some shapes that include bitmaps. Kevin Wyatt (VisWest) reports that you can make them appear by grouping the individual culprit shapes and ungrouping them.

Network Diagramming
VNE Network subscription update?

Looks like as of 2002-07-01 that MS is discontinuing the Visio Enterprise Network Tools product line. See: link for details.

How do I get started?

For orientation to Visio-specific development you will need to become familiar with the Developing Visio Solutions book (on Visio CD), and you may also benefit from my book (Visio 2000 Developer Survival Guide) and Dave Edson's Professional Development With Visio 2000. V2002 update: see my V2002 book "Visio 2002 Developers' Survival Pack". See links elsewhere on this site.

You mold Visio's behavior using the ShapeSheet environment, and also using OLE Automation from Visio's built-in VBA environment or other language which knows how to work with OLE Automation. The topics of VBA and OLE Automation are covered extensively in many widely-distributed books.

My code is doing something unexpected (general things to try).

Many of these problems can be resolved or at least narrowed down by using some of the following suggestions:

VBA Test Routine: If you are using a language other than VBA, whip up a quick test routine using VBA as this eliminates a lot of other distracting issues. In this way you can discriminate whether it's Visio doing something unexpected, or your own code.

Break chains of object references into separate pieces, single step in debugger and make sure that you have valid object references at each stage. Instead of:

S = ActiveDocument.Pages(1).Shapes("Sheet.37").Cells("User.SomeCell").Value


Set APage  = ActiveDocument.Pages(1)
Set AShape = APage.Shape("Sheet.37")
Set ACell = AShape.Cells("User.SomeCell")
S = ACell.ResultStr(0)

Understand VBA Error handling: Note that the On Error Goto error handling is not effective for some object reference errors. Instead you need something like:

On Error Resume Next
Set ACell = AShape.Cells("User.SomeCell")
On Error Goto 0
If not (ACell is Nothing) then

(and note "is Nothing" not "= Nothing". Nothing is a type not a value.)

Calling A procedure in one VBA project from another project:  VBA modules are stored in projects. Each Visio doc (drawing vsd or stencil vss) contains a project (as does each Excel or Word document.). In VBA to call from one project to another:

  • Both projects must be open (and have been saved at least once)
  • The caller project must have a VBA Reference to the callee project. This is done on the Tools > References menu (or you can set it via the VBA object model if you really want to.

Once that's done, modules in other projects are as accessible as modules in the same project.

Using Automation, Visio Objects Appear To Have Wrong Properties (Or you get unexpected "Object doesn't support such a property/method. message). A common gotcha is to create a project (in VBA, VB or other language) in which you have references to (or have included) several libraries as well as Visio, and more than one library defines has same-named object types. For example, numerous libraries define "Document", "Page" and even "Shape". Consequently when  your code defines a variable of, say, type Document, the compiler may be picking the wrong type of Document. To get around that, all language environments allow you to specify which library's type to use. Example in VB/VBA:

Dim Document          ' replace this with:
Dim Visio.Document



Article Created: 2000-04-18  Last edit: Last edit: 02-08-20 Graham Wideman
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