I have a few Google alerts set up to let me know if the word Visio is mentioned on the internet. I am always interested in new stencils for Visio and this has proven an effective way of finding them. Most of the time, the hit has nothing to do with the product Visio or it was a link to a download site for Visio or one of the books written about Visio. Today was slightly different, there was a link to a forum question that said “In Visio 2007, i want to change skin color, but I don’t know the formula’s – does anybody know?”, but no answer. Thanks to the Visio devs, it is quite easy (almost). They were nice enough to provide a User cell (similar to a custom property/shape data, but hidden) called User.SkinColor where you can set the skin colour. For the Accounting shape in the Workflow stencil of Visio 2007, that value is HSL(21,165,128). HSL stands for Hue, Saturation and Luminesance and is a similar means for setting a colour as RGB.
Of course, the tricky bit is working out what HSL values correspond to different skin tones and assigning a politcally correct name to it. I can understand why the Visio devs would not want to spend days arguing over the correct skin tone of someone from Redmond.
The use of the HSL function is a good choice because it provides a good range of skin tones by just modifying the value for luminesance. So it would be possible to create a simple piece of VBA code to display a slider that would change the user cell User,SkinColor of the selected shape (or shapes) from a value from 0 to 240.
John Marshall… Visio MVP Visio.MVPs.org