Visio MVP Scott Helmers introduces the Shape Data window and explores the data types that Visio can store in shapes and in a page. Learn about storing text, numeric, date, duration, currency, list, and Boolean data. See a quick overview of the built-in Inventory report that is available in all Visio diagrams. Finally, this online video demonstrates that shapes don’t live in isolation: The data in one object can affect another. Watch as the appearance of a Visio shape is altered, not by data contained in the shape, but by the value of a data field in the page on which the shape resides.
- [Instructor] A Visio diagram can be far more then just pretty picture, because shapes can contain data. In order to take advantage of Visio's data features, the first thing you need to know about is the Shape Data window. If you don't see the Shape Data window when you launch Visio, there are two ways to open it. You can Right-click any Shape, choose Data, and Shape Data, and the window will appear. Or you can also do that again to hide the window so if you ever wanna turn it off, Data, Shape Data, and it's gone.
The second technique applies if you have Visio Professional. On the Data tab in Visio Professional, that's a check-box for Shape Data window. And that check-mark will either show or hide the Shape Data window. My personal preference normally, is not to leave the Shape Data window floating, but to dock it, but this is entirely a personal choice, you can put it where you'd like it, you can resize it to make it suitable for what you wanna do, in a diagram. Now that the Shape Data window is open, let's look at some data. On this shape, a simple oval, there are a number of data fields.
Visio Data Fields can contain almost any type of data. In the shape on the screen, I've named each field to show the type of data it can contain. Normally of course, you'd name a field to describe its purpose like height, or budget amount or start date, rather than its data type, but these names will help you to understand how Visio handles data. A Text field is just what it sounds like. I can type this is text. In a Number field, Visio enforces that you enter numbers, so notice that if I type text and then tab out of that field, Visio presents an error dialogue that says the entry must be a number.
If I enter three, four, five, then Visio is happy. In a List field, you can present the user of your diagram with predefined choices. So I can choose D or B, or whatever from this particular list. A Boolean field is kind of special purpose, it has exactly two values. The values can be either true or false. The Currency field stores currency. If I enter a number and click out, it's automatically formatted for U.S. currency, because my window settings on this PC are for U.S. currency.
In other countries, you'll see other formatting and other currency. A Date field is kinda cool, you can actually type a date, or click the button to the right, and Visio presents a calendar, so I can go to any month and any year, pick a date, and Visio inserts the date for me. And finally, a Duration field is used to record time duration. If I enter three for example, and tab out, I see a somewhat unusual abbreviation, ed in this case, is Visio's abbreviation for elapsed days. You might see ew for weeks, or es for seconds.
Part of the value of entering data into Visio Shapes, is that you can reuse the data later. Let's go to another page, here's part of a flow chart. And as I click on a couple of the shapes here, you'll notice that they do contain data. Reusing that data in the form of a report, is particularly handy in many situations. Let's click the Review tab. Click Shape Reports, and choose the Flow Chart Report, and we'll send the output in the form of an HTML webpage, to our default browser.
Here is that report, and notice we see summaries by shape type, decision shapes, process shapes, and we see the other data that is associated with the fields in those shapes. Even pages can contain data, you can actually store data in almost any object in Visio, so let's go to this page. Notice if I click on the Oval Shape, there is no shape data, but if I click on the Page, there's a Shape Data field. And it has a drop-down list with some colors in it. What I've actually done, just to show how the shapes and data can be interrelated is to put a formula in this oval shape, so it actually draws the fill color of the shape from data on the page.
So let's go back to the page, and let's set this to Red. Or arrow down to green, or blue, or yellow. So you can see that objects in Visio can contain shape data. They can also pick up data from other objects in the diagram. Many Visio diagrams are valuable because they provide a picture to represent an idea, an architecture, or a portion of the real world. But the existence of shape data in a diagram, adds enormous value, which is one of the reasons why a Visio picture is worth much more than a thousand words.
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.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Finding shape data
- Defining and using data fields
- Running built-in and custom reports
- Visualizing data with text, callouts, icons, and color
- Linking diagrams to data
- Managing linked data sources
- Creating diagrams from data
- Sharing data-driven diagrams