VSD/VSS Introduction

VSD/VSS is an MS Visio binary file format. While many people think that Visio is a 'business graphics/diagram' creation program, it is a powerfull application with advanced ability to support complex solutions extandable by add-ons and through programming interfaces. It's not surprise, that MS Visio works only under win32. There are no MacOS X or Linux versions.

In the diagram creation part it can be mostly substituted by Free Software like GNOME Dia, KOffice Kivio or OpenOffice.Draw. GNOME Dia also has some add-ons for database and software developers, UML supporting tools etc. The main issues for those analogues are lack of interoperability with Visio and near the absence of technical clip-arts ('stencils' in Visio terminology).

To interoperate with Visio an application has to be able to open files in Visio own formats. Before introduction of XML-like office document formats in MS Office 2003, Visio has been using VSD for documents and VSS for stencils. Since Visio 2k3 it's a non-default option to save documents in VDX and stencils in VSX formats. For years it was considered very hard to make an importer for those formats.

There is a tool for VSD/VSS file format research. You can take it here.

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