Subprocesses and Hyperlinks

You may recall that simplifying Process Management is one of the core areas we focused on in Visio 2010.  Many Visio users build large process diagrams and a common tactic is to segment them into manageable, reusable pieces.  Typically, processes are broken down into parts on different pages within the same document, or in some cases into separate documents.  These subprocesses may be organized around ownership of the process, the people and groups who are related to them, or simply around the size of the diagram.  Visio 2010 adds explicit support to create new subprocesses and reference existing ones.


When the diagram authors are building their diagrams, we found that they may take different approaches depending on the circumstances of what they are designing or documenting.  Some build out from a higher level and know where subprocesses need to be referenced or created, adding subprocess shapes that act as placeholders for the subprocess that will be filled in later.  Others build out full detail and then go back to move parts of the diagram into subprocesses.  To reference each of these subprocesses, a hyperlink is typically added to a shape that refers to the entire subprocess.  Visio 2010 builds on these common characteristics and provides ways to automate much of the manual work around creating subprocesses.

The Create New command is designed to help you build out a brand new subprocess represented by the selected shape.  This will insert a new blank page and add the page name and a hyperlink pointing to the new page to the selected shape.


The Link to Existing command allows you to create a hyperlink on the selected shape that points either to a page in the current document or to an external document, such as one stored in a Visio Process Repository.


The Create from Selection command is used when you want to move a number of shapes from your current page onto a new subprocess page.  Visio adds a new page, moves the selected shapes to the new page and adds a subprocess shape to the current page.  The new shape represents the new subprocess and contains the name of the new page as well as a hyperlink pointing to it.

Selection moved to a new subprocess 4
New subprocess shape in higher-level process 5
Subprocess page 6

Hyperlinks are used to jump to and from the various subprocesses, so we looked toward our Ease of Use goals and made a few changes to how hyperlinks, in general, are managed.  We improved hyperlink navigation in Visio 2010 by allowing you to Ctrl+Click on a shape to follow a hyperlink, which is common elsewhere in Office.  The hyperlink still exists in the context (right-click) menu, and we added an entry point to the hyperlink dialog to make it easier to manage the links on your shape.  Some of you are probably thinking, “Hey, Ctrl+Click is already used to select multiple shapes!”  Not to worry – if you click to select a shape and then use Ctrl+Click to add more shapes to your selection, that still works.

7 8

You can add your own hyperlinks to shapes using the Hyperlink command on the Insert menu, which should be familiar from the other Office programs.


You may notice that the Hyperlink button is disabled if no shapes are selected.  When rethinking the interface for Visio 2010, we found that many users accidentally added a hyperlink to the page rather than a shape because they didn’t have a shape selected.  We also found that page hyperlinks are used mainly in custom templates or solutions and infrequently enough otherwise that we felt it was better to help users avoid accidents in the common case.  Page hyperlinks can still be added via the API or PageSheet.  And what about document hyperlinks?  Developers can add those through the API or DocumentSheet and end users can do it in the Backstage View.  Click the File tab, and go to the right side of the Info tab, where document properties are listed.

10 11

As usual, feel free to drop us a line about this using Send a Smile, or here on the blog.

Comments (11)

  1. Nancy says:

    I want to be able to treat a hyperlink in a visio file as Data…and not as Shape Data.  Meaning…I would like to manage them right alongside the cost and duration information that you can already manage in external data sources.  When I am linking and cross linking multiple sources…its just easier to manage the work.

  2. Lucas says:

    The 'Process Tab' appears to be available in VISIO Premium only. Maybe an 'applies to' section will help avaoiding folks to look for something that is not there…

  3. Facing issue with sub-process hyperlinking says:


    I am having issue with Visio while using the hyperlink when i generate the web page of the Visio file.

    I am using BPMN diagram in Visio 2010 & have 5 different Visio files, each having about 30+ processes documented.

    For illustration only:

    Let’s say, I have created 4 files:

    1st File "Plan": which has following collapsed sub-processes:  A–> B –> C?

    2nd File "Planning Activities – A": which has following tasks:  A1–> A2–>A3

    3rd File "Planning Activities – B": which has following tasks:  B1–> B2–>B3?

    4th File "Planning Activities – C": which has following tasks:  C1–> C2–>C3?

    I have linked collapsed sub-process "A" within 1st file with the sub-process worksheet saved in 2nd file to give a blown-up view of expanded sub-process "A". Similarly I have done it for collapsed sub-process "B" as well as collapsed sub-process "C" in 1st file i.e. linked each to its blown-up view in other Visio 2010 file.

    Since 1st file is the parent file, I am trying to save that as web page (*.html).

    When i open the saved web page and click on the collapsed sub-process "A" it opens the Visio file for "Planning Activities – A", instead it showing it on HTML so that I can view A1 on html and then navigate back to A-> B-> C diagram.

    Ideally, when I save as the parent file in html format, data from the entire downstream Visio file should also be saved as html content with configured hyperlinks.

    Appreciate if you can suggest a work around.


    Lubhit Singhvi | Bangalore | India

    +91 9742011000

  4. Rachel says:

    I'm creating some web pages using visio 2010, I wanted to add a hyperlink  to the back ground page so that it always appears in the same place on the screen, however I can't access the hyperlink through the foreground page – is this possible to have hyperlinks on the background page which can be accessed through the foreground? Can you suggest a suitable way to do this?

  5. Cathryn says:

    I'm working in a trial version of Visio Professional 2013.  I've used this blog article to help create hyperlinks and subprocesses but was looking for a report that I could generate that would list the parent process/shape and its related children (and vice versa).  Is there a way to do that?


  6. Lauren says:

    Is there a way of doing this in Standard?  I've just turned cross-eyed trying to find the subprocess tab that doesnt exist! Thanks to Lucas I don't need to make an urgent optometry appointment. It would be good to see his advice of two years ago taken to prevent people (like myself) from wasting time trying to locate something that doesn't exist.

  7. KD says:

    Can subprocess have multiple outgoing hyperlinks in al four directions? please help.

  8. Sam says:


    Do we have this option in Visio 2003 version…becuase i am not able to link my subprocesses

  9. scott says:

    The ability to change the behavior of a hyperlink seems to have disappeared in 2010. So I have a Document with shapes that can be double clicked to follow a hyperlink and now I am not able build upon that document with the same functionality. Thoughts or is this a Microsoft Fail?

  10. Jeff S. says:

    When using Hyperlinks that point to the same page from a high point in the hierarchy, it appears there is no way to return to the calling page.


    A -> B -> E

    C -> D -> E

    When on page E, is there a way to return to B or D based on the path taken to arrive at E?

  11. AM says:

    Hi, Is it possible to link a task or event to a specific task/event in a different tab?

Skip to main content