Visio MVP Scott Helmers demonstrates how to take advantage of lesser known Visio field attributes by turning on the Developer tab. After watching this online video, you will be able assist users of your diagrams by prompting them to enter data values when they drop shapes onto the page. You will also learn how to present shape data fields in a specific order, and how to hide selected data fields. This tutorial includes several real-world examples.
- [Host] If you have the developer tab enabled in Visio, the defined shape data dialogue allows you to set three field attributes called ask on drop, hidden, and sort key that are not available if the developer tab is not enabled. To demonstrate these attributes, I have two shapes on the page. The blue star has data fields that include data values. The yellow star is an exact copy of the blue shape with only two changes. I've changed the color to yellow and I've cleared the values from all of the data fields.
You'll notice that acquisition cost displays zero, that's because I've cleared that field so zero dollars is the affective value of acquisition cost. And on display shows false because this is a boolean field that can only show true or false. Before I can demonstrate the ask on drop attribute, I need to show you what happens if I just copy and then paste this yellow shape. So let's control c to copy, and we'll go over to the left side of the page and we'll paste. Essentially, nothing happened other than the copy operation.
And that's perfectly fine, that's the normal behavior for a shape exclusive of the ask on drop attribute. Now let's go back to the yellow shape. To demonstrate the ask on drop attribute, let's right click, define shape data, we'll scroll down to the acquisition cost field and simply put a check mark in front of ask on drop and we'll do the same thing for the field called on display. Then click okay. Now let's right click and copy this shape and then paste a copy elsewhere on the page.
Here's the dialogue that Visio presents based on the ask on drop attribute. We've said to Visio whenever someone puts a copy of this shape onto the page, prompt them to enter data into these fields. I should point out that data entry is not mandatory. I can click cancel and just close this dialogue, but the value of this field, setting, ask on drop, is to encourage the user to enter a value for either or both of these fields. Next is the hidden attribute, and the purpose of the hidden attribute is pretty much what the name suggests.
Let's go back to our star, right click, define shape data, and let's choose the acquisition cost field. And click hidden. So notice when I move this dialogue to the side, notice that we see the field called acquisition cost, but as soon as I click okay, that field disappears. Because we've said to Visio, hide this field, it's still there, it can still contain data, but we've decided that at this moment, it's appropriate to hide that field from the user.
You'll see a real world example of the use of this field in just a moment in the next sample diagram. But before we look at that example let's look at the sort key attribute on the current shape. Once again, right click, data, define shape data. This time, let's go to the on display field, and what I'd like to do is have this field appear second in the list of shape data fields in the shape data window. So I'm going to enter two in the sort key field and click okay.
Now the good news is that field moved, the bad news is it's on top of the list rather than in the second position. Why is that? Because Visio applies the sort key and displays all fields with a sort key first and then it displays all fields that do not have a value for sort key. So in this case, on displays the only field that has a sort key so it's right at the top of the list. We can fix that problem pretty easily. Go back to the defined shape data dialogue, and let's put a sort key of one for description and I could fill in other values, but just for the sake of argument we'll click okay and see that the fields are now presented in the order we requested, at least the first two.
The final example is a real world example as I mentioned a moment ago. This was a diagram that I created for a client. They create a specific style of process maps based on something called the Sipoc Model. You see that here because from left to right across the page we see a supplier, input, process, output and customer, hence, Sipoc. In these maps the shape data window for a task shows seven shape data fields. However let's see what the shape data actually looks like.
Right click, define shape data, and you'll see that there are a whole lot of fields, far more than seven. The reason is, this particular customer wanted the shape data dialogue to be as simple as possible for ordinary maps. So all of the fields except these seven are set with the hidden attribute. In addition, they wanted the fields to appear in very specific orders so you notice that every field has a sort key value set. So that we always know, in advance, the order in which these fields will appear.
Taking advantage of the hidden attribute in this particular case, allows them to say, you know what, I don't normally want to see process analysis fields. But if I select show, I want more fields to appear. And if I select other, and say show, I want even more fields to appear. So here's a good real world example of how you can combine the hidden attribute and the sort key attribute to accomplish what the user wants to see in their maps. As you can see from these examples, turning on the developer tab in Visio provides three additional shape data field attributes that you can use to guide the data entry experience for users of your custom shapes.
First, learn how to apply data and display fields to shapes and run the many prebuilt reports offered in Visio 2016, as well as customize your own. Then find out how to visualize data with callouts, data bars, and icon sets; change the color of shapes as data values change; link diagrams to external data from Excel and Access; align data with flow charts, timelines, organization charts, and other Visio diagrams; and share your new data-driven diagrams with others—even if they don't have Visio. This course will help you accomplish more than you ever thought was possible with Visio, and communicate more effectively than you ever could with static data alone.
- Identify fields specific to the developer tab when defining the shape data.
- Recall how to have Visio keep a copy of the shape on the screen while dropping it on the Stencil.
- Explain how to indicate the column order when generating a custom report.
- Recognize how to know each row is linked to shapes in the External Data window.
- Name what the Custom Import button was called in previous versions of Visio.
- Explain what Configure Refresh can be used for.