Visio Insights
The official blog of the Microsoft Visio product team

Wireframe Shapes in Visio 2010

Wireframe Shapes in Visio 2010

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Visio has long been regarded by interaction designers and information architects as an essential tool in their work. Many software wireframes (aka software mockups) are built using Visio, and they can range from mobile software, interactive web sites, to enterprise application software.

In the past, Visio included a set of Windows XP stencils for such work. For Visio 2010, we decided to refresh those stencils by providing a brand new set of Wireframe shapes that are generic and not specific to the operating system. The intent is to offer the UX community with medium-fidelity UI shapes and icons that can be used to create wireframes for general software design for a wide variety of platforms (e.g. mobile, internet, windows). As an example, see the following mockup of Microsoft Internet Explorer and the homepage of using the new Wireframe shapes (mockup is on the left, and the actual software is on the right):


This new set of shapes not only allows easier creation of wireframes, but offer many customization options to meet specific design needs. Let’s further examine what Wireframe shapes are included in Visio 2010 and what functionalities are added to make building wireframes easier.

UI Dialogs, Controls, Toolbars and Icons

First, to create a Wireframe Diagram, go to New > Software and Database > Wireframe Diagram:


Similar to previous Windows XP UI shapes, Visio 2010 offer UI shapes for building dialogs, controls, and toolbars. What’s new however is the addition of common UI icons for Windows, web, and multimedia applications. Here is the full set of Wireframe shapes that is included:


Resizable and Configurable

Customizing wireframe UI components are easier than ever. Most Wireframe shapes are resizable and offer options to customize the visuals. For example, a button is a common control and has configurable state options through the right-mouse action menu:


Working with Themes and Formatting

Unlike previous Windows XP UI shapes, the new Wireframe shapes also allow users to customize the look of the UI elements through Themes or formatting. With Themes, users can easily customize color and effects schemes that can be applied to all UI components easily. Moreover, individual controls can be formatted to indicate highlight or indicate different UI states. As an example, the diagram below shows what the wireframes looks as default (no Themes applied), and with Themes applied:


Controls as Containers and Lists

With the introduction of Containers (see earlier blog post for more details), Wireframe shapes such as Dialog form, Application form, and Panel are built as Containers to “contain” any control that is placed inside it. By being a Container, when you move a Dialog form, all controls contained inside it will also move with it.

Also, Wireframe controls such as Tree Control, Drop-down Menus, List Box are shapes to utilize the new list feature, similar to Cross-functional Flowcharts and Data Graphic Legends. Lists allow users to easily add new element to be contained in a List shape through a blue arrow, as demonstrated below in a Drop-down Menu control:


As a result, users no longer need to add shapes through multiple drag-drop or copy-paste operations. Instead, the blue arrow allows for a super quick way to add a lot of UI components while properly aligning and arranging the items at the same time.

Feedback Welcome

We are excited to bring users a brand new set of Wireframe shapes that offer greater versatility and broader application. Please use the Send a Smile feedback tool or comment on this post if you have feedback on the Wireframe shapes.

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  • Hi there, great to know abt the new wireframe shapes in Visio.I frequently use it for wireframing and its pleasure to work with visio.The only issue i face is the various screen resolutions -i want to know how to get the templates for various screen resolutions like 1024 * 768 or others? If anyone has it please share on this..?

  • Hi there, great to know abt the new wireframe shapes in Visio.I frequently use it for wireframing and its pleasure to work with visio.The only issue i face is the various screen resolutions -i want to know how to get the templates for various screen resolutions like 1024 * 768 or others? If anyone has it please share on this..?

  • How can I create interactive, clickable Mockups with Visio 2010?

    I haven't found a hint in the german Visio help.

  • How did you get the browser chrome? I couldn't see that in the controls collection so does a few other nicer controls!

  • If someone is interested in wireframe shapes for PowerPoint, please take a look at PowerMockup:

  • I appreciate the upgrade to the Wireframe generic UI, however would still like the option to make Windows XP UI's as well.  Maybe it is just because that is what I was used to - but the change makes it hard for me to compare/contrast/present my designs made in version 2007 vs 2010.  Thanks.

  • Have those looking for datagrid controls tried Insert>Object>Excel ?

  • Hi all, hope you can help.

    I'll have to do some information architecture for a bank for their future portal.

    As UI design tool i have visio (standard by the bank), but I think I'm the first one to use it for UI design.

    I have tried for half a day to use visio 2010 but am hopelessly lost. As I'm not techie beginner, can you sent me some links or docs that can be helpfull using the wireframe functions (e.g. I dont even know how to activate my dropdown...).

    Thanks a lot.

    Kind regards,


  • Where is the browser chrome shape? I'm the third person on this thread looking for that. I don't see it in 2010 Premium. I am using the wireframe template...

  • In your article, you mention "Customizing wireframe UI components are easier than ever" which I find surprising: I haven't found any way to add additional states to stencils; this does not seem possible anymore. Furthemore, ShapeStudio is not available in the 2010 version anymore.

    Any idea how to get around this?

  • Nothing in the post above suggests that these Software and Database > Wireframe Diagrams are only available in Visio 2010 Standard. However, according to this page, it seems that the UI templates are only available to Visio Professional. Can anyone confirm? Is there somewhere ou can go to download these Wireframe Diagram templates/stencils

  • I confirm that Standard Vision 2010 does not have the wireframe stencils. You need professional or above.

  • why can't you remove the expansion button on the node? not all tree nodes need it.

  • I'm missing basic things, like grid, combo box...

  • Dear MS Visio,

    I recently installed Visio 2010, and do not see the Software and Datatebases icon that is supposed to contain the wireframe widgets. I followed the online instructions, but do not even see a category for Software and Databbases...what should I do to get them?

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