Visio Online myths

4 myths about Visio® for the web

Lucid Content

Reading time: about 6 min

If you have used, or are currently using, Microsoft Visio®, you have probably been burned by a high learning curve, limited accessibility, versioning issues, and other common drawbacks of this software.

Lucidchart co-founder, Ben Dilts, felt that pain himself as he dealt with strict security requirements at a health benefits software company. To ensure compliance, his team would email Visio® diagrams back and forth, but they would have a difficult time collaborating and keeping track of the most up-to-date version.

There had to be a better way.

In late 2016, when Microsoft Office introduced a web-based version of Visio®, many organizations thought this tool would solve all their problems. Visio® would finally facilitate collaboration, work on all devices, and maintain a single source of truth—all while offering the same powerful features it always had. Right?

It turns out that several claims made by Visio® for the web are more fiction than fact. We’re here to set the record straight—learn four myths about the online version of Visio®.

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Note:  For the purposes of this article, Visio® for the web can refer to either Plan 1 or Plan 2. For information about Visio® Standard or Visio® Professional plans, see this article.

Myth #1: Visio® for the web offers real-time collaboration

Microsoft claims that Visio® for the web offers real-time collaboration, but even on this web-based platform, the term “real time” is a stretch. While multiple participants can view the same document simultaneously, the user experience is clunky and doesn’t solve the issues that many organizations try to avoid by switching to Visio® for the web in the first place. For example:

  • In read-only mode, you can’t see updates until you refresh the diagram, so unless you remember to refresh often, you could be looking at an outdated document.
  • There’s no indication that someone else is viewing the document, so you can’t alert your co-worker that you have made changes or ask if they need editing access.
  • Visio® for the web doesn’t offer revision history in-document—you would have to exit your document to see a list of previous versions. You could also get locked out from restoring versions of your own document if you’ve shared it with others. Additionally, there is no version compare feature to easily pull up different versions side by side. 

Essentially, Visio® for the web still doesn’t support the idea of a single source of truth because participants could easily be looking at different versions of the same document.

Real-time collaboration in Lucidchart

Lucidchart was built specifically to foster better collaboration and eliminate versioning issues as teams create visuals. Multiple participants can edit the same document at the same time—and all changes sync automatically, a feature that improves productivity since team members won’t have to waste time looking for the correct version or wait on each other to contribute to the document. Collaborators always have access to the latest version of your diagram.

In Lucidchart, you can see who else is viewing or editing your document at the top of the screen, and you will see objects outlined in colors assigned to each collaborator, so you can always tell who is in the middle of making changes.

And you don’t have to worry about collaborators making unwanted changes to your documents. When you share your diagram, you can select whether your team members have editing, comment-only, or view-only access. Lucidchart also provides revision history and version compare, just in case you need to revert back to an older version.

Once you’ve built out processes, system documentation, or other visuals, you can store or embed them in the applications you use daily to keep the entire company on the same page. Lucidchart offers integrations with Google Workspace, Confluence, Jira, Quip, Salesforce, Slack, and other popular apps.

Myth #2: In-app commenting allows you to give or receive feedback easily

Visio® for the web also claims to help users collaborate through in-app commenting. However, comments aren’t always immediately accessible to all of the users shared on a document—you must refresh your screen to see comments team members have left.

In addition, Visio® doesn’t offer a way to tag users in comments or alert them in any way, which could delay necessary changes or feedback.

Commenting and @mention notifications in Lucidchart

Lucidchart also offers in-editor commenting on an entire diagram or specific shapes, but you can view or add comments at any time. With the locate button, you can easily find the object that is associated with a comment.

Additionally, Lucidchart allows users to include @mention notifications on a comment. By adding the name of someone on your team or any email address, you can alert users to your comment to resolve issues, get approval, or give feedback quickly.

Myth #3: Visio® for the web solves the Visio® for Mac problem

Visio® Plan 2 comes with the Visio® desktop app, so a lot of the functionality that Visio® for the web claims to have is only available when you use it in conjunction with the traditional desktop software (continue reading for examples). The online version of Visio® on its own can offer basic functionality, but that’s about it. 

The Visio® desktop app comes with its own set of complications, the main one being that it is only compatible with Windows, so your employees with Mac and Linux devices won’t be able to use it.

Compatibility in Lucidchart

If you want a web-based solution that’s truly compatible across devices, try Lucidchart. Our cloud-based application and all its features, work on any operating system, including Windows, Mac, and Linux. You can even view and edit diagrams on the go with our Android and iOS apps.

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Myth #4: Visio® for the web has extensive shape and stencil libraries

When you use Visio® for the web, you’ll be missing out on many frequently used shapes, including icons for:

  • BPMN
  • Mockups
  • ERD (limited)
  • Value stream mapping
  • GCP architecture
  • Floor plans
  • Mind mapping

Shapes and stencils in Lucidchart

Lucidchart has built out shape libraries to benefit every role, including all of the shapes listed above. Plus, our platform offers more than 1,000 templates if you don’t want to start your diagram from scratch.

If you don’t find the shapes you need or want to use more specific, branded shapes, you can also import Visio® stencils and SVGs and save them in a custom shape library for continued use. Build anything from simple flowcharts to complex technical diagrams in order to communicate clearly and innovate faster.

The choice is clear. If your company needs to collaborate seamlessly on visuals, if you’re looking to better support Mac users, or if you’re moving software to the cloud and don’t want to sacrifice intelligent diagramming features, Visio® for the web won’t meet all of your expectations. You need Lucidchart.

Talk to our sales team about how Lucidchart can improve collaboration and align with your company initiatives.

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Lucidchart, a cloud-based intelligent diagramming application, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This intuitive, cloud-based solution empowers teams to collaborate in real-time to build flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, customer journey maps, and more. Lucidchart propels teams forward to build the future faster. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit

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