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Microsoft's Royalty-Free Visio 2003 XML schema

Details of Microsoft's release of Visio XML schema to their free library.

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Microsoft's Royalty-Free Visio 2003 XML schema

While wandering around one of my favorite XML resources recently, I discovered an interesting and sizable set of documents that knocked my socks off. Microsoft has already committed to create a large body of royalty-free XML schemas as part of its Open and Royalty-Free Office 2003 XML reference schema program. On April 15, the company announced the addition of the XML Schema used in Visio 2003, known as DataDiagramXML to its library of such content.

What makes this so interesting and potentially useful is that it makes Visio's powerful, flexible diagramming capabilities available for use in other XML-driven applications. Microsoft's press release talks about some interesting ways in which third-parties have used this capability to develop business process modeling tools, and various other diagram-based data capture and translation facilities. Essentially, this makes a powerful visual interface and diagramming facility available to those who already own licenses for Visio (or other Office components for which they may use related Schemas).

The description of DatadiagramXML itself makes pretty interesting reading (I include a pointer to an MS-Word file that Cover has installed in his Web pages, but you can grab the original by downloading Office 2003 XML Schemas information from the MS Web site as part of its overall contents). There you'll find complete information about related file formats, the schema itself, how to use the markup language it defines, and how to validate documents written using DatadiagramXML.

It's heartening to see MS opening up its technologies for this kind of use. It helps to show the real power of XML, particularly for enabling visual interfaces and access to applications.

Ed Tittel is a VP of Content Development & Delivery at CapStar LLC, an e-learning company based in Princeton, NJ. Ed runs a small team of content developers and project managers in Austin, TX, and writes regularly on XML and related vocabularies and applications. E-mail Ed at

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