Highland Fling

A while back I was intrigued by some Lego mini-figures that one of the US MVP leads had given to some of her MVPs. This started me on a project to create a Visio Lego man. It also started me thinking on what a Visio mini-figure of me would be like. Considering my heritage, my mini-figure had to have a kilt. Kilts/skirts for Lego mini-figures is very easy. It is just a rectangle with a tab with two holes to go over the pins on the top of a Lego block. The rest of the kilt/skirt is just folded around the brick. So, making a kilt should just be a matter of finding an image of a tartan. Unfortunately, I could not find an image of the tartan I wanted with enough squares to make a kilt. No problem, I could just make my own as a Visio custom fill pattern. Initial trials showed that I needed to better understand the pattern. The brute force method meant a lot of shapes that would severely impact performance. If I was going to create a Visio custom fill pattern, I might as well do it in such that the method could be used for other tartans. So I turned to my favourite list handler, Excel. I could use Excel to create the tartan and then use SnagIt to capture the pattern. Something the US lead would approve of.
So, what is a tartan? it is a pattern based on setts, groups of coloured threads in a given order and specific thread counts. The pattern is the same in the horizontal and vertical. What you end up is a set of squares that match when the same colour threads intersect and rectangles of two mixed colours. Since this is a two up to down pattern. the mixed colours form a zigzag pattern.
In addition to being able to handle lists, Excel could handle colours. In the past, I needed to handle lists of colours and Excel was well suited for the task. I could create the fill colour for a cell based on RGB values in the same row. Sort the table and the RGB and the colour sample remained together.
So, I created an Excel workbook with a worksheet of colours, a worksheet to hold possible setts and a pile of values for sets and of course, a worksheet of instructions. The workbook also contains VBA macros to manage the colours and the setts and to create a tartan in an empty worksheet.

You can obtain the workbook from one of the Canadian Excel MVPs, Debra Dalgleish.


John Marshall… Visio MVP Visio.MVPs.org

Published by johnvisiomvp

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