You can share Visio diagrams with other users in two ways: view the diagram with another copy of Visio, or print out the diagram. No other software can read the VSD files created by Visio.

If you want to view the Visio diagram in another software package -- such as with a Web browser or a CAD package -- you need to export the Visio diagram to another file format. When you have as many choices of file format and options as you do with Visio, in general it is better to:

* Use a vector format since Visio is a vector format. Raster looses "resolution," which is a measure of accuracy.
* Use compression to reduce the file size of raster formats. Compression reduces the size of the file without loosing any data.
* Not use compression when the receiving software cannot read it or when the format does not have the option.

I can't, however, offer much advice as to which file format to use, other than try to match the name of the file format to the name of the application. In the table below, I have made a few notes on each format. Note that when you export the drawing in "HTML" format, Visio generates a Web page in HTML format and converts the diagram to a raster file format that you specific -- I recommend GIF.

The Export Function
Visio's export function is part of the Save As dialog box, selected from the File > Save As menu. The export function converts the Visio diagram into other file formats.

Save As dialog box
The Save As dialog box provides access to a range of files format options.

You can export the current Visio page or select shapes to be exported. Visio does not let you export more than one page at a time.

Visio lets you select from the following file formats:
Program or File Format File Extension Notes
Adobe Illustrator AI Vector; also saves in EPS format
AutoCAD binary* DWG Vector; v2.5 through Release 14.01?
AutoCAD ASCII* DXF Vector; v2.5 through Release 14.01?
Computer Graphics Metafile CGM Vector-raster; saves in many flavors of CGM
Drawing Web Format* DWF Vector; meant for use on the Internet
Encapsulated PostScript EPS Vector; also saves in AI format
Enhanced Metafile EMF Vector-raster
Graphics Interchange Format GIF Raster; commonly used on the Internet
HTML HTM Hypertext Markup Language
Initial Graphics Exchange Spec IGS Vector; read by some CAD systems
JPEG JPG Raster; commonly used on the Internet
Macintosh Picture Format PCT Vector-raster
PC-Paintbrush PCX Raster; commonly used for desktop publishing
Portable Network Graphics PNG Raster; designed to replace GIF
PostScript PS Vector; commonly used by desktop publishing
Tagged Image File Format TIF Raster; commonly used for desktop publishing
Visio 4.0 VSD Read by earlier versions of Visio
Windows Bitmap BMP Raster; used by the Windows Clipboard
Windows Metafile WMF Vector-raster; no options

* Available only in Visio Technical
? Updated convertor 5.0b

Many of the export formats include options. There are too many formats and options to cover in this tutorial, so I will walk through some of the most common: PostScript, TIFF, and WMF.

Export to PostScript Format
Use the following procedure to convert the Visio drawing to PostScript and encapsulated PostScript format:

1. Ensure a drawing is open in Visio.
2. Select File > Save As.
3. Click on the Save as type list box and select EPS or PS file format.
4. Click Save. Notice the AI/EPS Output Filter Setup dialog box.
AI/EPS Output Filter Setup
5. Select Standard Options -EPS from the Profiles list box.
6. Select a Color Translation format:
* Normal: Keep the colors are they are in the Visio drawing.
* Inverse: Invert the colors (the picture looks like the strip of negatives from color film).
* Inverse Grays Only: Invert only white, black, and grays; keep other colors as they are.
* Gray Scale: Change the colors to levels of gray.
* Inverse Gray Scale: Change the colors to levels of gray and make a negative.
7. Select an option from Line Cap Mode:
* Device: Use the line style and width capabilities of the display and printer driver.
* Stroked: Thick and patterned lines are drawn as polygons to more closely represent how they appear in the Visio drawing.
8. Select from the following options:
* Background Rectangle: Places a rectangle around the drawing as a border.
* Optimize for Color Printer: Optimized export format for color printers.
* Include AI Format: Include data for Adobe Illustrator format.
* AI Version: Select from version 3, 5, or 6.
* Include TIFF Preview: Includes a small raster image for use within desktop publishing software, which cannot display AI and EPS formats.
9. Select one of the TIFF Preview formats:
* Bilevel: Reduce the image to black and white; creates a smaller file size.
* 16 Gray: sixteen shades of gray.
* 256 Gray: 256 shades of gray.
* 8 Color: eight colors.
* 16 Color: sixteen colors.
* 256 Color: 256 colors; the default.
* 24 Bit RGB Color: 16.7 million colors.
10. Select a Data Compression for the preview image:
* None: no compression creates a larger file but may be necessary for some applications that cannot read compressed TIFF files.
* Packbits: best suited to black-white images.
* Modified Huffman: best suited for gray images.
* LZW: best suited for color images.
11. Select a Resolution for the preview image:
* Screen: Use the screen resolution, typically 72dpi (dots per inch) or 96dpi.
* Printer: Use the printer's resolution, typically 300dpi or 600dpi; use this for the best quality hardcopy.
* Source: Let the destination application figure out the best resolution to use.
* Custom: Specify any resolution; default = 72x72dpi. Visio recommends that the resolution range between 32dpi and 400dpi.
12. When you make changes to the options and wish to save the changes for the next time you use this command, click New.
13. Type a name in the Profile Name text box. This name will appear in the Profiles list box the next time you see the AI/EPS Output Filter Setup dialog box.
14. Click OK to dismiss the dialog box.
15. Click OK. Visio converts the drawing and saves it in EPS or PS format.

Export to TIFF Format
Use the following procedure to convert the Visio drawing to tagged image file format:

1. Ensure a drawing is open in Visio.
2. Select File > Save As.
3. Click on the Save as type list box and select TIF file format.
4. Click Save. Notice the TIFF Output Filter Setup dialog box.
TIF Output Filter Options
5. Choose a Profile from the list box. Visio includes two: Standard Options and Visio HTML Export.
6. Select a Format:
* Bilevel: Reduce the image to black and white; creates a smaller file size.
* 16 Gray: sixteen shades of gray.
* 256 Gray: 256 shades of gray.
* 8 Color: eight colors.
* 16 Color: sixteen colors.
* 256 Color: 256 colors; the default.
* 24 Bit RGB Color: 16.7 million colors.
7. Select a Resolution for the preview image:
* Screen: Use the screen resolution, typically 72dpi (dots per inch) or 96dpi.
* Printer: Use the printer's resolution, typically 300dpi or 600dpi; use this for the best quality hardcopy.
* Source: Let the destination application figure out the best resolution to use.
* Custom: Specify any resolution; default = 72x72dpi. Visio recommends that the resolution range between 32dpi and 400dpi.
8. Choose a Size.
9. Select a Data Compression for the preview image:
* None: no compression creates a larger file but may be necessary for some applications that cannot read compressed TIFF files.
* Packbits: best suited to black-white images.
* Modified Huffman: best suited for gray images.
* LZW: best suited for color images.
10. Select a Color Translation format:
* Normal: Keep the colors are they are in the Visio drawing.
* Inverse: Invert the colors (the picture looks like the strip of negatives from color film).
* Inverse Grays Only: Invert only white, black, and grays; keep other colors as they are.
* Gray Scale: Change the colors to levels of gray.
* Inverse Gray Scale: Change the colors to levels of gray and make a negative.
11. When you make changes to the options and wish to save the changes for the next time you use this command, click New.
12. Type a name in the Profile Name text box. This name will appear in the Profiles list box the next time you see the TIFF Output Filter Setup dialog box.
13. Click OK to dismiss the dialog box.
14. Click OK. Visio converts the drawing and saves it in TIFF format.

Export to WMF Format
Use the following procedure to convert the Visio drawing to Windows metafile format:

1. Ensure a drawing is open in Visio.
2. Select File > Save As.
3. Click on the Save as type list box and select WMF file format.
4. Click Save. There are no options for the WMF format. Visio converts the drawing and saves it in WMF format.