Microsoft Visio

ABR Consulting Group, Inc. has been using Microsoft Visio as a graphics and design tool as part of our business since the graphics software was called Sysdraw.  Sysdraw was purchased by Visio which was in turn purchased by Microsoft.  We like this product.  We currently use Microsoft Enterprise Visio 2000.  

Autodesk AutoCAD

ABR Consulting Group, Inc. has been using Autodesk AutoCAD LT for many years.  Recently, we upgraded to AutoCAD 2000i. 


For over a decade, it has been necessary for us to convert any number of graphics products into Autodesk AutoCAD as many of our clients are architectural teams that universally use the product. 

Conversion Instructions

Microsoft Visio provides a very simple two-step instruction.  Step 1, Go to the Visio drawing page that you want to convert, and then click Save As on the File menu.  Step 2, Under Save as type, select the CAD drawing file format, for example, AutoCAD Drawing (*.dwg) and then click Save

What Microsoft instructions fail to tell you is that most vendor stencils and user-created blocks WILL NOT convert.   Thus, if you build an intricate elevation drawing showing Visio vendor stencils, most won't convert.  When calling up the AutoCAD drawing, they will not appear.  Saving as a .dxf or Windows Metafile (.wmf) will not work either.  We have contacted Microsoft Visio's Technical Support on this issue and they confirm that most stencils will not convert.  A second thing the Microsoft documentation will not tell you is that text does not transfer as well as you would like. 

What will work is to unblock the stencils and taken them down to their raw elements.  This is also a two-step process.  Step 1, Click on the stencil and then go to Shape/Grouping and then Ungroup.  The first time you do this for each stencil, you should receive the message "This action will sever the object's link to its master".  Click on OK.  Step 2, repeat Step 1 and click on Ungroup.  You will not receive a message on this second attempt.  What you will see is the entire stencil ungrouping. 

Three Things You Definitely Won't Like

First, the good news.  Once you ungroup everything, the document will convert completely to AutoCAD.  Now for the things you definitely won't like. 

  1. Ungrouping the vendor stencils can take a very long time.  It is not uncommon for one of our large Visio drawings to take over 2 hours to completely ungroup (one stencil at a time).  The reason is that some of the stencils we use contain over 9,000 elements and we can have 30-40 of these on a drawing. 

  2. Ungrouping increases the size of your drawing file.  In the drawing above, our original drawing was about 2.5 megabits (even with stencils, our drawings can get up to 5-6 megs).  Once ungrouped, this 2.5 megabit drawing increased to just under 10 megabits or 4 times the original size*  This then becomes a very cumbersome drawing to convert.  

  3. All text converts but the sizing and registration is not always the way it looked in the Visio drawing.  You may have to modify the text to make it look and fit right. 

*   The conversion process above is based on our experience in converting drawings from Microsoft Visio to Autodesk AutoCAD.  You're drawing conversion experience may differ greatly depending on the quantity and type of vendor stencils used.

Contact us at www.abrconsulting.com  Phone:  925.872.5523  Fax:  916.478.2814