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Unistep ® - Microsoft Visio diagram animation add-in

Visio diagram animation with Unistep

A high impact tool for Visio to improve your process analysis and presentations

Process diagrams, as they are now… Here are some examples of what you find on the web after a search for « process diagrams ». The purposes of these diagrams are to define, describe and present processes in time, so these can be analyzed and presented for demonstration and education purposes to interested people. Some fancy shapes (ideograms) help to illustrate the entities that acts in the processes.

Google search

The time is indirectly implied by various arrows. But as soon as a diagram begins to cover multiple choices, it is more and more difficult to follow and to distinguish between the choices and their consequences, to distinguish between various flow options. In fact, these diagrams contain now multiple processes shown simultaneously.

In conclusion, all these diagrams display two caveats (from a presentation point of view, no judgment
about their contents):

  • They show a maze of shapes and arrows, implying several processes;
  • The time dimension, an essential feature process analysis, is absent. Sometimes the solution to
    imply it is numbering the arrows.

Unistep is a solution to improve diagrams readability and communication value (for diagrams made with Microsoft Visio).

Isolate, highlight processes - Unistep helps isolate and highlight a specific process in a maze of shapes and arrows. 
 Process 1 Process 2 Process 3
Process 1    Process 2    Process 3 
Isolate processes in diagram - Unistep can dim other processes, so you can concentrate on the highlighted one
Process 1 isolated   Process 2 Isolated   Process 3 isolated
Stream 1 isolated    Process 2 isolated    Stream 3 isolated 
Show and animate the steps of the process - Show individually the steps of the process, and go forward, go back.
 Step 1   Step 2   Step 3
Stream 1   Step 2   Step 3
Highlight a series of steps - Highlight executed steps.
Highlight from the beginning to the current step   Highlight from the beginning to the current step, dim other processes (isolated mode)   Highlight a sequence of steps inside the process
Stream 1   Highlight executed steps   Process isolation - highlight selected sequence of steps
Show and animate the steps of the process, in isolated mode (streams not activated are dimmed)
The process step is highlighted, the other processes are dimmed Step is highlighted, the process is dimmed with one value, the other processes are dimmed with another value Normal step display
Step isolated    Step double isolated    Step normal 

Drill down in functional and system analysis and design

Unistep may link processes (streams) streams and stream steps to other processes. This “drill down” feature helps functional and system analysis and design.

Functional analysis

In functional analysis of a process, at the beginning you define some main general steps that happen sequentially in time. Then each of these steps is detailed (decomposed) in some lower-level steps (that happen in time too). This decomposition may go down one or more levels. Looking at more detailed (internal) levels is also called « drill down » functional analysis.

Functional analysis - Drill down
A main function can have its steps decomposed in sub functions. Links are set up between main process steps and sub functions.  Animation of a step in the sub function. The other steps are dimmed. Animate all steps from the beginning. The remaining steps are dimmed.
Visio - Functional Analysis   Functional analysis - animation   Functional analysis - trail1

System analysis

In system analysis you associate an entity (a system…) with one or more functions. That means that this entity will perform these functions. Other functions will be performed by other entities, so there will be some communication (interfaces…) between them. So time is equally present when you study how a system « works », when there is an information flow between entities.

Also an entity may have multiple internal components, that perform functions and communicate between them. This decomposition may also go down further. Looking at more detailed (internal) levels is also called « drill down » system analysis.

The analyses per se is your work, you are the designer. Unistep helps to link various levels of design and show dynamically how a process traverses multiple architectural levels, adding more details as it « drills down » to lower levels.

System analysis - Drill down
A main system has components that may have their own components. Links are set up between main system components and their decomposition.    In the main system, a step before drill down.   After drill down. Another diagram (component) in another Visio page. The process continues in the other diagram.
System analysis - main process    System analysis - before drill down    System analysis - after drill down 

Unistep helps associate explicitly functional and system analysis with time. The explicit association helps in defining, documenting and presenting processes.

HTML export

Unistep can also export the animated streams as a set of HTML pages with integrated navigation

Export process presentation and animation as HTML pages
All streams (processes) in a Visio page may be exported, each in its own Web page. A navigation page allows direct access to each process.   The exported stream may be isolated for a better view.   The animation is exported as a step on a page.
Export stream 1    Export stream 1 isolated    Export stream step