Introduction to Microsoft Visio What is Microsoft Visio? Microsoft Visio is a part of the Microsoft Office Suite of products which consists of Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Access and Microsoft Project. Microsoft Visio is a diagramming tool that can be used to visually communicate technical as well as non-technical representations of ideas, processes, concepts, structures, layouts, software models, blueprints, etc. Microsoft Visio eliminates the laborious process of creating diagrams by providing the tools to create complex diagrams in a user friendly manner. Whether you want to create an office layout, a basic flowchart or an organizational structure, you can do it with minimal effort using Microsoft Visio. What can it do? Visio is a user friendly tool to create diagrams, hence it can be used by everyone. You do not need to know software programming in order to use Visio. If you know how to use the computer, you can use Visio. Visio can be used in all walks of life. Using Visio, an electrician can create Electrical Diagrams, a student can create a flowchart to understand the process flow, Sales persons can create charts and graphs, Engineers can create Mechanical Engineering diagrams, Managers can create organizational charts and Software programmers can create UML Diagrams and User Interface prototypes. No matter what kind of diagram you need, you can use Visio to create a professional , impressive diagram with minimal effort. Visio can be used by a technical as well as non-technical user to easily create many different kinds of diagrams for documenting and communicating ideas, concepts, blueprints, etc. Some of the different kinds of diagrams that you can create using Visio are: Flowcharts Block Diagrams Business Process Diagrams Charts and Graphs Database Models Data Flow Diagrams Electrical Diagrams Mechanical Engineering Diagrams Systems and Network Architecture Diagrams Organizational Charts Gantt Charts User Interface Prototypes Sitemaps for Websites UML Diagrams, etc. Visio diagrams are compatible with all of the MS Office applications and can be used with word and html documents through the copy paste feature. They can also be used with email programs like Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express. Visio Essentials This will familiarize you with the different tools that Visio has to offer. In order to start working with Visio you need to familiarize yourself with the different tools that Visio has to offer. In this chapter we will be discussing the main aspects of Visio like the Visio Diagramming Environment, the drawing page, stencils, the Visio Toolbars, etc. Visio’s diagramming environment is comprised of a drawing page and a stencils pane to assist in creating drawings of specific types with much ease. A drawing page provides a region where the diagram can be assembled using components from an array of shapes called stencils. A stencil is nothing but a collection of shapes. Stencils provide a collection of related shapes, which can be simply dragged on to the diagramming page to include them in the diagram. Each type of diagram has a stencil attached to it. For Example , if you select Flowchart as the diagram, the stencil on the left will display a collection of shapes that are commonly used in Flowcharts. Similarly, if you you select an organization chart as the diagram type, a stencil will be displayed on the left with a collection of shapes that are most commonly used for Organizational Charts. The Drawing Page on the right is where will actually create your drawing. It is like a canvas for your diagrams. The Drawing page is divided into several small squares forming a grid. This is useful to align drawing objects and scale objects. To create a diagram, all you need to do is select and drag the the shapes you want onto the drawing page, arrange them and connect them using the connectors. We will learn about the more complex features of creating a diagram like changing the backgrounds for shapes, adding text and resizing shapes later in this tutorial. Fig 1: Visio Diagramming Environment Templates Stencils and Shapes Visio templates can be used for establishing the drawing environment best suitable for a specific type of drawing such as the stencils, drawing page's orientation, grid size within the drawing area, etc. Templates Visio templates can be used for establishing the drawing environment best suitable for a specific type of drawing such as the stencils, drawing page's orientation, grid size within the drawing area, etc. Visio diagramming templates are grouped by categories, such as Block Diagram, Building Plan, Business Process, Charts and Graphs, Flowchart, Organization Chart, etc. Fig 2: Visio Templates Stencils and Shapes Visio diagrams are created by placing various Shapes and connecting them to each other as needed. All available shapes in Visio are grouped into Stencils. Each stencil comprises of related shapes that can be added to any type diagram. Based on the drawing template chosen, one or more stencils are automatically opened in the stencils pane by Visio. Fig 3: Organization Chart Stencils Figure 3 depicts the stencil group that is automatically made available when working with, for example, Organization Chart Template. Any number of additional stencils can be added to the group provided by Visio. To add additional stencil: 1. Select File from the main menu 2. Click on Shapes from the file menu 3. A pop out window opens on the right with a list of all the stencils available in Visio. 4. Select the Stencil that you want by clicking on it. Shapes can then be added from the stencil pane to the drawing page by dragging individual shapes to the desired location within the page. Visio also provides you with the option of creating New Stencils with the shapes of your choice. You can create custom stencils containing shapes copied from existing stencils or custom shapes. An advanced user can create custom shapes either from scratch or by inheriting the properties and behavior of existing shapes. Creating a Diagram You can choose from the different types of diagrams available in Visio. To Create a new diagram, you first need to select the type of diagram you are creating based on your needs. You can choose from the different types of diagrams available in Visio. To start a new diagram: 1. Click on File from the main menu. 2. A pop out menu appears on the right listing the the Drawing types available. 3. Select the type of drawing from the pop out menu or 4. Click Choose Drawing Type. 5. 1. This opens up the template selection screen depicted in Fig 2. 2. Select the desired drawing type by clicking one of the templates. Fig 4: Selecting a Diagram Template Once you select the diagram template, Visio opens a new file in which the diagram contents will be saved. Fig 5: New Diagram The resolution of the drawing page can be adjusted by changing the zoom level either from the toolbar (see fig. 5) or by holding down the control key and using the scroll wheel on the mouse. Saving a Diagram The diagram can be saved to the disk at any time. The diagram can be saved to the disk at any time by selecting File from the main menu and Save from the File Menu, or by clicking the save button on the toolbar and choosing a destination on the desired disk drive. Visio diagrams are saved using .VSD filename extensions. Fig : Saving Figure 6: Saving the Diagram Using Templates here we show you how to choose and customize a template in Microsoft Visio 2003. Choosing a Diagram Template To start a new diagram using a specific diagram template, select File > Choose the Drawing Type... and pick a desired template. A template determines the settings for the drawing environment such as Page Layout, Default Font, Grid Settings, Stencils even default shapes present on a new page such as, company log, address and phone numbers. Customizing a Template A custom template can be created by first opening an existing drawing or creating a new drawing based on an existing template, adding any desired stencils, changing options such as page orientation, grid size, background image, adding shapes, etc., and saving the environment to a .vst (Vision Template) file. To save a diagram and its environment as a Template, click on the toolbar or select File > Save As. When the prompted for the destination to save the file, enter the file name and select the file type as template(*.vst). Introduction to Shapes in Visio 2003 Visio provides several shapes, grouped into stencils, that can be used for creating different kinds of diagrams. A Visio diagram comprises of three elements namely Shapes, Connectors and Text items. Visio provides several shapes, grouped into stencils, that can be used for creating different kinds of diagrams. Shapes in a diagram can be connected to each other using connectors. Connectors can be attached to shapes in such a manner that when the shapes are moved around within a diagram, the end points of the connectors stay glued to the shapes they are connected to. Each shape may have several such connection points. Some shapes also come with a Rotation Handle using which the shape can be rotated around within the drawing plane. Certain shapes also come with special handles that enables certain characteristics of the shape to be modified discretely such as the tail shape of an Arrow Object. Line, Fill and Text Properties in Visio 2003 You can change the format of the text, edit the color and thickness of the border surrounding the shape and fill the shape with a pattern and color of your choice by modifying these properties. All shapes in Visio have certain common properties such as Line properties, Fill properties and Text properties. You can change the format of the text, edit the color and thickness of the border surrounding the shape and fill the shape with a pattern and color of your choice by modifying these properties. These properties can be viewed and modified using the context menu of the shape. To view or modify these properties: 1. Right-click a shape within the drawing. 2. This displays a context menu listing all the options to work with the selected shape. 3. Select Format from the context menu. 4. Another menu with the format options appears on the right. Using this menu, you can customize the appearance of the selected shape. 5. Select the corresponding option from the this menu to change the format of the text or the shape by clicking on it. Each option opens a dialogue box where you select the format properties. Select Line... to bring up the Line Properties window. Line properties affect the appearance of the lines in and around a shape. Options available for Pattern are none, solid, dashed and mixed. Weight controls the thickness of the line. Color controls the line color. For thicker line weight Cap can be used to make the ends of the lines appear Round or Square. Line Ends group of properties control the appearance of arrow heads in lines that have arrows at end points. Fill properties control the appearance of the inside of a shape and the shadows on the outside. Text Properties control the appearance of the caption associated with a shape. Adding Shapes to your diagram How to add shapes to your diagrams in Visio 2003. To add a new shape to the diagram, drag the desired shape from the stencil pane, onto the drawing page. To add text to a shape in the drawing page, select the shape then click the text tool button on the toolbar or simply start typing the text after selecting the shape. Copying a Shape Visio allows you to copy a shape that you have created on the drawing page. Once you create a shape and need the same shape for other processes or activities, you can just copy and paste the shape saving you time and effort. Visio allows you to copy a shape that you have created on the drawing page. Once you create a shape and need the same shape for other processes or activities, you can just copy and paste the shape saving you time and effort. To Copy a Shape: 1. Right Click on the Shape you want to copy in the Drawing Page. 2. This displays a pop out menu with several options. 3. Select Copy from the pop out menu by left clicking on it. 4. Now place the cursor anywhere on the drawing page and right click. 5. This again displays a pop out menu with several options. 6. Select Paste from the pop out menu by left clicking on it. Once you copy the shape, you can move it to the location you want by clicking on it and dragging it to the desired location. Resizing a Shape in Visio 2003 With Visio, you can resize a shape according to your needs. Resizing a shape is as simple is clicking on the little green boxes surrounding the shape and dragging it to the size you want. With Visio, you can resize a shape according to your needs. Resizing a shape is as simple is clicking on the little green boxes surrounding the shape and dragging it to the size you want. The little green boxes are called selection handles. To Resize a Shape: 1. Select the Shape by clicking on it. 2. Click on the selection handle and drag it until the shape is the size you want. 3. Click on the selection handles in the corners to resize the shape proportionally i.e. resize it both lengthwise and height wise to maintain the proportions and the shape.. Customizing a Shape in Visio 2003 Customizing an existing shape is a multi-step process. One of the prerequisites for customizing a shape is that it must exist in a custom stencil. Customizing an existing shape is a multi-step process. One of the prerequisites for customizing a shape is that it must exist in a custom stencil. To create a custom stencil: 1. Select File > Shapes > New Stencil. This adds an empty stencil to the stencils pane. 2. Right-click on the title (Stencil<an>) of the newly added stencil and select Save As from the context menu and save the stencil file (.vs's) In the rest of this lesson we will create a modified version of the standard Process shape found within the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil. Create an new Basic Flowchart Diagram using the method demonstrated in Chapter 1. 1. Add the Process shape to the drawing page. 2. Activate the Drawing toolbar by selecting View > Toolbar > Drawing menu option. 3. From the Drawing toolbar, use the Line tool to modify the Process shape as shown below. 4. Add some text to the modified shape using the text tool.. 5. Drag the mouse starting at a point just outside the top left corner of the modified Process shape towards the bottom right corner of the shape to select the entire shape. 6. Convert the selected shapes, the outer rectangle and the inner rectangle, into a single shape by right clicking the selection and choosing Shape > Group from the context menu. Open the custom stencil created in the beginning of the lesson by selecting File > Shapes > My Shapes > My Stencil. Drag and drop the grouped shaped onto My Stencil group in the stencil pane. The shape is now removed from the drawing and added to My Stencil with a default name - Master.0. Right click the newly added shape within My Stencil and selected Edit Master > Master Properties from the context menu. Change the Name of the Shape to My Process and click ok. The shape's name will change from Master.0 to My Process. Save the custom stencil by right clicking My Stencil (the custom stencil's title area) and selecting Save from the context menu. The custom shape called My Process, contained in the stencil named "My Stencil", is now ready for use. You can use the My Process shape in your diagrams just like any other shape in Visio. Rotating Shapes in Visio 2003 You can rotate shapes in Visio to create customized diagrams. You can rotate the shape right, left, flip it horizontal or flip it vertical till you find a position for the shape that blends in with your diagram. You can rotate shapes in Visio to create customized diagrams. You can rotate the shape right, left, flip it horizontal or flip it vertical till you find a position for the shape that blends in with your diagram. There are three ways in which you can rotate shapes: From the Main Menu: 1. Select the Shape in the drawing page by clicking on it. 2. Select Shape from the main menu 3. Click on Rotate Shape. 4. Select the direction in which you want the Shape to rotate from the pop out menu From the Shape Menu: 1. Right Click anywhere on the Shape. 2. Select Shape from the context menu that appears by clicking on it. 3. Select the direction in which you want the Shape to rotate from the pop out menu. From the Drawing Page: Every Shape has a rotate option attached to it. The Rotate Shape option appears a little green circle outside the shape. To rotate a Shape: 1. Click on the little green circle for that shape. 2. The arrow appears around the circle indicating that the shape is ready to be rotated. 3. Click and rotate the arrow around to rotate the shape. Moving Shapes To move a shape within the drawing, select the shape with the pointer tool and drag it to the new location. Adding Text to Shapes in Visio 2003 You can add Text to the shape to indicate what the shape is representing. You can add Text to a shape to indicate what it is representing. The Text can be formatted and rotated to blend in with the rest of your diagram. To add text to a shape in the drawing page: Select the shape then click the text tool button on the toolbar OR Double Click on the Shape and start typing the text. Introduction to Connectors in Visio 2003 Connectors enable two or more shapes in a diagram to be linked to each other using a line, depicting a relationship such as association, process flow, data flow, control flow, etc. Connectors enable two or more shapes in a diagram to be linked to each other using a line, depicting a relationship such as association, process flow, data flow, control flow, etc. A connector is a special shape in Visio that has two end points and one or more special "handles" that can be used for reshaping the connector. End points of a connector can be "snapped" to connection points on a shape. Once snapped to a connection point, connectors stay glued to the shape no matter where in the diagram the shape is moved. A shape may have more than one connection point available for connectors to be glued to. Visio allows several connectors to be glued to one connection point. Types of Connectors Available in Visio 2003 Connectors available in Visio are of two types, namely, Dynamic Connector and Line-curve Connector. Connectors available in Visio are of two types, namely, Dynamic Connector and Line-curve Connector. Dynamic Connector When two shapes are connected using a dynamic connector, the shapes can be repositioned anywhere within a diagram and Visio will reroute the connector around the shape while maintaining connections with the two connection points the connecter was originally glued to. See example below. Certain shapes allow the dynamic connectors to be snapped not to a connection point but to a shape as a whole. When a connector is connected to a shape as a whole, upon repositioning the connected shapes, Visio will relocate the connection so as to take the shortest route between the two connected shapes rather than maintaining the connections at the original connection points. Line-curve Connectors These can be used when you want to give the connectors a curved shape the curvature of the line-curve connector can be controlled by dragging the yellow handle along the curve. Connecting Shapes with the Connector Tool There are two ways one can connect shapes using a connector. The first one is by using the connector tool on the toolbar. There are two ways one can connect shapes using a connector. The first one is by using the connector tool on the toolbar. To connect two shapes using the Connector Tool, click and release the Connector Tool on the toolbar. Upon moving the mouse pointer into the drawing page, the cursor changes to indicate that the connector is active. Hover the mouse pointer over the connection point to which the first end point should be connected. Visio places a red icon around the connection point to which the first end point will be connected. Now, click the mouse to fix the end point and drag to the connection point where you want to place the second end point. Once the two connection points are thus specified, upon release the mouse button the connector is rendered between the two shapes.