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Making Your Database Play with Visio's SmartShapes

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Adding Visio's SmartShapes to your database can make it not only more stylish, but more useful. Rebecca Rohan explains how to combine SmartShapes with database functions to warn you when supplies are low, planned software installations conflict, or other intervention may be required.

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What if you could get a great visual to show which computers in the organization need an upgrade before they'll support the big boss' new pet application? If somebody in the IT department has that info in a database, they can link that data to SmartShapes in a Visio drawing and, presto! The pre-upgrade computers will display as orange, rather than tan. Made the upgrade? With the help of a quick refresh, the shape will reflect the change to the database by changing to tan.

Maybe your organization wants to roll out Office 2003, but you know that some commissioned programs on a few computers only work with certain versions of Microsoft Access. Those types of problems would be another occasion to fire up a shape drawing with red flags or landmine symbols representing that data. If you can easily summon such an image from the proper database with very little notice, Visio might help shape the way your IT department keeps track of equipment—and what's on it. Whatever you want to highlight and track, we'll get you started with this how-to, using an example from the ordering department of our midsize, SmartShaped hospital, Eye Tee General in Meshuggeneh Falls, New England.

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