This week I had a request for assistance in finding Visio’s flowchart multi-shape. Rather than being in the Basic Flowchart stencil, it is now in Software and Database –> Program Structure in a stencil called Language Level Shapes and is called Flowchart shapes. This is an interesting shape because it contains four shapes with only one of the four shapes visible depending on the value of a Scratch cell. The Scratch cell is controlled by four rows in the Action section.
This is interesting behaviour, but the flowchart shapes are probably not the best example of using this technique. Most of the time you know the flowchart shape you want and rarely change it. A better example would be in a Genogram stencil where you want to add people, but because of the limited information, you may not know or are unsure of the gender. Having a people shape that can change between Male / Female / Unknown would be useful. Each person shape has various attributes that would be a nuisance to maintain if you needed to replace a Male shape with a Female shape. Of course, the proper way would be to tie the person data to a background data source.
A second Genogram shape that could use this technique is a connector that shows the relationship between two individuals. Is it a love or hate relationship? Are the feelings strong or weak? Standard Gengram notation has various line types and colours to show this information. With a single line shape, the line pattern and line colour can be controlled by shape data or the Action rows.
John Marshall… Visio MVP Visio.MVPs.org