January, 2007

Visio Insights
The official blog of the Microsoft Visio product team

January, 2007

  • Visio Insights

    Working with ResizeMode


      In this post, we take a break from Visio 2007 information and explore a peculiar shape design issue.  If you have worked with Groups in Visio, you have probably encountered a situation where the shapes inside of a group just don't behave properly during resize.  Sometimes you want shapes inside a group to resize with the group.  Sometimes you don't.  Visio provides a setting to control the resize behavior, but you may be surprised how it works.  Enter ResizeMode.


      ResizeMode is the name of the Shapesheet cell that controls shape resize within groups.  This is presented as Resize Behavior in the Format > Behavior dialog.  There are three possible settings for the resize behavior: Scale with group, Reposition only and Use group's setting.


      Format > Behavior dialog 


      A shape inside a group will have one of these three settings.  Really there are just two behaviors (scale & reposition), with the third setting just deferring up to the group for its value.  The default setting is Use group, which in turn defaults to Scale.  So how does Scale and Reposition affect the resizing of shapes inside a group?


      Resize behaviors 


      Scale allows the shapes inside the group to stretch as the group stretches.  Reposition maintains the original size of the shapes but moves their center as the group stretches.  Sounds straightforward enough, so what's the catch?


      The catch is that ResizeMode only works when used BEFORE a shape is grouped.  When a shape is put into a group, Visio uses ResizeMode to determine what formulas get applied to the shape to make it resize with the group.  Changing ResizeMode later on has no effect on the resize behavior.  Thus it is quite likely that users change the setting and then get frustrated when nothing happens.  It's just not a good design.


      Here is the Shapesheet view of what is happening.  ResizeMode is a cell in the Shape Transform section.  The default is 0 (Use group's setting).  Reposition only is 1.  Scale with group is 2.  Below is the Shapesheet for a shape before it is grouped.




      Below is the Shapesheet of a shape with ResizeMode = 1 that is then grouped.  Notice that the Width and Height formulas are untouched, but the PinX and PinY depend on the group.  This is the Reposition behavior.


      Shapesheet - Reposition 


      Below is the Shapesheet of a shape with ResizeMode = 2 that is then grouped.  Notice that Width and Height now depend on the group.  This is the Scale behavior.


      Shapesheet - Resize 


      Changing ResizeMode in the Shapesheet and in the Format > Behavior dialog has no effect on these formulas.  The setting only comes into play at the time the shape is added to a group.  Visio has some work to do to clean up both the design and the documentation for ResizeMode.  Hopefully this article explains what is really happening.


  • Visio Insights

    Insert Text Box


      Every once in a while a new feature idea comes along that is so unique and compelling that it revolutionizes the way people work.  Insert Text Box is not such a feature.  Adding text to a diagram is nothing new in Visio.  However, usability studies have shown that adding text is one of the more challenging tasks for new users.  Thus we added Insert Text Box to Visio 2007 to make diagramming a little more approachable.


      Insert Text Box command 


      Insert Text Box is a menu command that invokes Visio's Text tool.  Choosing the command is the equivalent of clicking on the Text tool in the Standard toolbar.  We found that new users were not aware of the little 'A' toolbar button.  In contrast, most users were aware of PowerPoint's Insert Text Box command, and many would look for a similar command in Visio.  Now that command exists.


      One significant difference between the Insert Text Box command and the Text tool is that you can only insert one text box at a time with the command.  Once the text box is created, Visio automatically switches back to the Pointer tool.  With the Text tool you remain in text mode until you manually switch back to the Pointer tool.  The one-shot method solves another problem for new users - not knowing about the Pointer tool.  Even after users discovered the Text tool, they did not always realize that they had to switch back to the Pointer tool at some point.


      Microsoft Office Visio 2007 - now with text box insertion technology.  Buy it today.


  • Visio Insights

    Menu Changes in Visio 2007


    A new release of Visio means changes both large and small to the application.  The menu system has a number of changes in it.  There are some new additions such as Remove Hidden Information, Publish to PDF / XPS and the Data menu.  This post focuses on changes to the existing menu items.  Hopefully we can help you locate that feature you were looking for.

    View menu

    Shape Custom Properties are renamed to Shape Data, so the Custom Properties Window is now called the Shape Data Window.

    Format menu

    Three commands are now hidden by default.  Format > Special, Format > Style and Format > Define Styles are only visible if you enable Developer Mode.  Do this by going to Tools > Options > Advanced > Run in Developer Mode.  Styles are superceded by Themes in Visio 2007, and these three commands are targeted at shape designers more than standard users.

    Format menu 

    Tools menu

    Shared Workspace is now called Document Management (an Office-wide change).  Online Collaboration has been removed from the product.  This is now done externally through Microsoft LiveMeeting. 

    Custom Property Sets are now called Shape Data Sets and no longer live in this menu.  You can find the command by right-clicking in the Shape Data Window.  The new Data Link feature accomplishes some of the same tasks as Shape Data Sets, so the feature gets less visibility in Visio 2007.

    Shape Data Sets

    Reports has been moved to the new Data menu.  Export to Database has been moved to Tools > Add-Ons > Visio Extras where the other Database Wizard features are located.  Macros is now called Macro - go figure.  The Add-Ons sub-menu has been reorganized to align with the new diagram categories in the Getting Started pane.  Thus Building Plan is now Maps and Floor Plans, and Organization Chart is now Business.

    Tools > Add-Ons 

    Shape menu

    As mentioned above, Custom Properties are now called Shape Data.  The menu item has been moved to the new Data menu.  Also the Lay Out Shapes command has been split into a Configure Layout command and a Re-layout Shapes command.

    Help menu

    The Getting Started Tutorial has been replaced by training materials on Office Online.  You'll find a larger and better assortment of training courses there.  Diagram Gallery is replaced by the revised Getting Started pane, where you can see large thumbnails illustrating each of Visio's diagram types.  Detect and Repair is now called Office Diagnostics, and Customer Feedback Options is now Privacy Options.

    Page context menu

    Right-clicking on the drawing page, you'll find the View sub-menu removed.  All the commands in this sub-menu can be found in the main View menu up top.

    Shape context menu

    Right-clicking on a shape, you'll also find the View sub-menu removed.  In the Shape sub-menu, Custom Properties has been renamed Shape Data and moved to the Data sub-menu.  Rotate and flip commands have been removed in favor of expanding the z-order commands like Bring Forward and Move Backward.


    Overall there are quite a few changes.  Some of these changes related to the new Data menu and our focus on data connectivity.  Others were related to Office-wide feature changes.  If you have thoughts on the organization of Visio's commands or the drawing workspace, please leave us a comment.


  • Visio Insights

    Sharing Diagrams on a Server


    Hi Everyone,

    Our Product Planning team would like to hear from those who share diagrams by putting them on a Web site, SharePoint site or file server.  Are you sharing diagrams connected to data sources (perhaps through the new Data Link and Data Graphics features in Visio 2007)?  We'd like to better understand how our customers share diagrams inside their organizations.

    If you would like to help us with this area, please contact us.

    Visio Team

  • Visio Insights

    DXF, DWG & Visio


    Hi Everyone,

    Do you ever open, save or use AutoCAD files (DXF/DWG) with Visio? If so, the Visio product team would like to talk to you. Please contact us, and we’ll be in touch.

    Visio Team

  • Visio Insights

    Remove Hidden Information


      In a previous post we discussed the fact that a Visio document can become bloated over time by accumulating masters, styles, layers, fonts and colors that are no longer used in the diagram.  Often the file size impact is minimal, but not always.  Visio 2007 includes a new feature called Remove Hidden Information that lets users purge these unused items from their documents.  You can find this feature in the File menu.



      Remove Hidden Information actually provides two services.  First, Visio will offer to remove personal or sensitive information such as comments, reviewer markup and referenced file paths.  Visio can also strip out cached data recordsets.  Removing personal information is a good thing to do before publishing a document outside your organization.



      Second, Visio will offer several ways to reduce the file size by deleting unused items.  The preview picture may not be essential to your document.  Master shapes can account for the most significant size impacts in the document.  Themes and data graphics are new to Visio 2007 but are based on master shapes.  Styles can be large in quantity if not also size.  This doesn't cover every type of item that can bloat a document, but these are the critical items.



      For those designing shapes or solutions, you may find it desirable to exclude your masters from deletion.  Some solutions count on their master shapes existing in a document whether currently in use or not.  Visio allows shapes to set a flag to prevent Remove Hidden Information from deleting them.  Add the User-defined cell User.msvRHIPreventRemoval to the page sheet in the master and set the value to 1.


      We've been hoping to add this feature to Visio for some time, and it is great to see it included with Visio 2007.




  • Visio Insights

    Customizing Data Graphics


      One of the new features in Visio 2007 Professional is Data Graphics - the ability to display data on shapes in rich, visual ways.  Many of you have already experimented with this feature and are looking for ways to create custom visualizations.  There is an MSDN article that covers the full spectrum of customizations possible for Data Graphics.  In this post we'll work through a specific example - changing the text size in callouts.



      In the flowchart above, a data graphic is applied to the three process steps.  The data graphic has two text callouts displaying the Cost and Duration shape data fields.  The default text size for the flowchart shapes and the text callouts is 8 points.  What happens if we do a Select All and change the text size to 12 points?



      The flowchart shape text has increased in size, but the callout text has not.  Normally when you apply formatting to a group shape, Visio automatically pushes that formatting to all sub-shapes as well.  However, Data Graphics callouts are designed to prevent this automatic propagation.  There are many scenarios where it is desirable to maintain separate formatting for the shapes and the callouts.  Visio 2007 introduces a new protection on shapes to prevent group formatting from propagating to sub-shapes.



      Group formatting protection does not prevent all formatting changes on a shape - just those pushed from groups.  You can directly select (or sub-select) a shape and still format it.  Data Graphics callout work this way.  Not all Visio shapes allow selection of sub-shapes.  This is controlled by the group selection behavior property found in the Format > Behavior dialog.  If the selection property is set to Group Only, you will have to go to Edit > Open Group to make any formatting changes.


      Thus it is possible to customize the formatting on individual data graphic callouts, but what about making a global change to the data graphic?  The MSDN article explains more about the way that data graphics are structured, but essentially the callouts used in a data graphic derive from Visio callout masters.  By editing the callout master, all the data graphic callouts can be changed.  You may be accustomed to opening the Document Stencil to edit masters, but Data Graphic callouts are hidden masters.  Go to View > Drawing Explorer to find them.



      In the Drawing Explorer, you will find masters for the flowchart shapes in the diagram.  There are also masters for the data graphics and the callouts used in the data graphics.  For our example, we want to edit the Text callout master to update the text font size.  You can right click on the master name, choose Edit Master Shape and make the desired formatting changes.    Once you close the edit window and save the changes, all the data graphics in the diagram are updated. 



      It is a good idea to rename this callout master.  Because this version of the text callout master is different from the built-in one, Visio will offer both in the Edit Data Graphic dialog.  Assigning a new name will allow you to distinguish between the two.



      You may want to make your custom data graphic callout available in all your documents.  Visio 2007 does not offer a central storage location, so the recommended practice is to put the data graphic and callout masters into a template that you can use as you start each new diagram.  You can use the custom callout in a data graphic on a shape in the diagram.  Then copy that shape to another document.  Visio will copy over all necessary data graphic and callout masters.  We're interested to find out what types of custom data graphics you create to visualize information.  Be sure to let us know how you use the feature.



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