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