Shape Developers need Love too!

It has been a while since the demise of ShapeStudio. It was not the greatest, but it did help developers create series of shapes. Using the Shapesheet is not for the faint of heart. The shapesheet is a powerful tool for creating shapes and adding functionality, but, but it is labour intensive. What is needed is some enhancements.

Sorting? Not necessarily sorting, but the developer should be able to change the order of the rows in the shape data, user data and connection sections. Rather than using a menu item, an up/down toggle button would be preferred. Using a menu item, is not a big deal, but do it a hundred times and it becomes tedious.

In addition to rows, Geometry sections should also be able to be reordered.

If the order of the Geometry sections can be changed, joining adjacent Geometry sections should be relatively easy. Each Geometry section has a start and end point, so joining would mean there would be an end and start row in the middle of the section.

Of course, not all Geometry sections have a convenient start and end point. So it would be useful to reverse a Geometry Section so the one section ends here the adjacent section starts.

A few versions back, Visio added relative positioning in the Geometry section. Another useful feature would be a toggle bottom to switch between absolute to relative
A toggle button to switch a Geometry row from absolute to relative. Sometimes it is easier to enter absolute positions, other times it is easier to use relative. Currently you can use a menu item, but that involves selecting the Change Item type and remembering the appropriate alternate type.

When you are working on a Geometry section, the row you are working on is highlighted in the drawing to let the designer where that point is. Also for reference, if the PinX or PinY cells are selected, a cross should be placed over that point so the designer can see where the point is.

One of the first things that bites first time shape developers is the ungroup command. For some applications Group and Ungroup are complements and you can ungroup and then group to get back to where you were. In most cases this is true, but with Visio, grouping creates a new shape to control the other shapes and ungroup deletes that shape. This group shape, like any other shape can be enhanced, but ungrouping will also remove these enhancements. So, if you add user data, shape data, actions or connection points, these will be lost. Another nicety for shape developers would be the ability to copy these sections from other shapes. So, never ungroup should be the rule? No, during shape development, grouping and ungrouping is a very useful tool. You can align a set of shapes on their centers, group them and then align or distribute this group with other shapes/groups without destroying the group on center the shapes have in the original group.

Outside the Shapsheet
Of course, before even getting into the shapesheet, the ability to sort the shapes in the stencil would be very useful. Yes, this can be done with VBA, but this should be a standard feature.

An alternate to the bounding box is needed. Rather than a box, the shape involved should change color. The bounding box just shows that something in that area was selected. A bonus would be to use gradient colors that show the direction of lines.

If the shapesheet is like a spreadsheet, why can we not copy and paste cells, rows and sections between shapesheets like Excel? What about copying from a shapesheet to Excel and back.


John Marshall… Visio MVP

Published by johnvisiomvp

The original Visio MVP. I have worked with the Visio team since 1993