Solution: “Visio cannot open the file because it’s not a Visio file or it has become corrupted.”


If you’re new to exporting SharePoint Designer workflows to Visio, chances are you’ve seen this message.

“Visio cannot open the file because it’s not a Visio file or it has become corrupted.”

Opening the exported Visio file is not intuitive (export, open), but also isn’t complicated. Instead of opening the file directly, you need to import it from within Visio.

  1. With your workflow open in SharePoint Designer, click Export to Visio from the “Manage” section of the ribbon menu
  2. Name the VWI file and save it as you wish
  3. Open Visio (not the new file)
  4. Start either a blank or SP Workflow 2010 diagram
  5. Click “Process” from the ribbon menu
  6. Click “Import” from the SharePoint Workflow section
  7. Find your newly saved file and open it

Tips & Troubleshooting

  • Your version of Visio has to match your version of SharePoint Designer. Make sure they’re both 32 or 64 bit and matching versions.
  • The export usually goes well, but I would always double check more complicated flows to make sure the result displays as the workflow actually functions. Sometimes the flow lines, by default, will be a misleading representation of what actually happens.
  • Rename the steps in your flow. “Set field in current item” doesn’t clearly convey what’s happening there. Which field is being set to what?
  • Brand your flows and create a color theme to use repeatedly. This will keep your documentation consistent and polished. Develop a template and stick to it.
  • Include text boxes with URLs for associated lists and forms for more complete documentation
  • Include descriptive subtitles or metadata in a text box such as
    • On which subsite the flow lives
    • What type of workflow it is
    • If there are related workflows this flow triggers
    • Who created it

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