Microsoft Visio Templates and Stencils

Microsoft Visio is a useful tool... but it really needs better stencils... here are a few places to find them.

By JC

On occasion, I am called upon to build a network diagram or a flow chart of some sort, and I’m sure many of you have been, too. Most of you probably know that despite Microsoft’s reputation for building shoddy software, their Visio software is actually quite nice (though not nearly as cool visually as OmniGraffle for OSX). The only problem I have with it is the stencils. At least in my copy (granted, it’s Visio 2000), the stencils are *ancient* — the computers all have 5 1/4 floppy drives, and I don’t think there’s a rack-mounted server in the whole collection. So a few weeks ago when I was asked to build a diagram of our new load-balanced intranet system, I was a little stuck. Until I did a bit of searching.

Turns out there are lots of free Visio stencils out there, including official ones from Dell and Cisco, which made my diagram far, far easier to understand for everyone involved. So I thought I’d share. Some others we’ve found of interest have been for Citrix Metaframe (If you’re not familiar with that, Metaframe is basically a sort of software thin client… you can use the metaframe app or a browser and remotely access a desktop instance on a server. I’ve never been entirely sure what the real benefit of it is, I think it’s mostly used so remote users can have a single workspace no matter where they access from, and so sensitive data stays on a single secured server cluster) and for the Sarbanes-Oxley Audit, provided on Visio Cafe, which also has stencils for HP and IBM as well as a number of unofficial stencils from a variety of places.

I was unable to find a good source for Mac stencils, sadly. How about you guys? Are there any places you go for visio stencils that I left out? What sorts of things do you use Visio for?

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