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Link Visio Shapes to Act CRM Data

Automatically update Act CRM data with the changes you make to Visio master shapes.

Automate the process of entering data into Visio diagrams and keeping your diagrams up to date with the CData ODBC Driver for Act CRM. The driver surfaces Act CRM data as an ODBC data source that can be accessed by applications with built-in ODBC support like Microsoft Office. This article shows how to create a simple diagram to start brainstorming about Visio projects linked to Act CRM data.

Connect to Act CRM as an ODBC Data Source

If you have not already, first specify connection properties in an ODBC DSN (data source name). This is the last step of the driver installation. You can use the Microsoft ODBC Data Source Administrator to create and configure ODBC DSNs.

The User and Password properties, under the Authentication section, must be set to valid Act! user credentials. In addition to the authentication values, see the following:

  • Connecting to Act! Premium

    In addition to the authentication values, the URL to Act! is also required; for example https://eup1-iis-04.eu.hosted.act.com/.

    Additionally, you must specify the ActDatabase you will connect to. This is found by going to the About Act! Premium menu of your account, at the top right of the page, in the ? menu. Use the Database Name in the window that appears.

  • Connecting to Act! Premium Cloud

    To connect to your Act! Premium Cloud account, you also need to specify the ActCloudName property. This property is found in the URL address of the Cloud account; for example https://eup1-iis-04.eu.hosted.act.com/ActCloudName/.

Note that retrieving ActCRM metadata can be expensive. It is advised that you set the CacheMetadata property to store the metadata locally.

Connect Act CRM Data to Diagrams

Follow the steps below to use the Data Selector Wizard to import data into your diagram.

  1. Open Visio and click File -> New. Open the Brainstorming template.
  2. On the Data tab, click Link Data to Shapes.
  3. Select the ODBC option and select ODBC DSN.
  4. Select the DSN for Act CRM, select the table you want to import, and finish the wizard. This article uses Activities as an example.

Link Act CRM Entities to Shapes

Follow the steps below to create a simple diagram that shows how to create shapes from your data, one of the ways to link Act CRM entities to shapes:

  1. Click Brainstorming Shapes and drag a main topic onto the drawing page. Enter Activities as the text of the main topic.
  2. Click Topic.
  3. Select a row in the External Data window and drag it onto the drawing page.
  4. Right-click the Topic shape and click Data -> Edit Data Graphic.
  5. Click New Item.
  6. In the Data Field menu, select a column. In the Displayed As menu, select how to display them.
  7. Drag a few other Act CRM entities onto the drawing page and add association lines back to the main topic, Activities. New topics have the same configuration: Numeric columns displayed in data bars stand out in contrast to other Activities entities.

You can refresh your diagram from the Data tab, synchronizing your shapes with the external Act CRM data.