While it is possible to create good looking graphics with Visio, it was not designed to be an illustration tool. That doesn’t seem to stop nuts like me from trying to use it as one! But let’s just say that in my quest to create beauty, I occasionally miss the advanced tool or two.
One such example is the skew tool. With a skew tool you could, for example, easily draw nice rectilinear shapes, such as these dice faces…
…and skew them so that you to make this nifty isometric view:
As I was reading a wonderful book on SVG called SVG Essentials, by J.David Eisenberg, I learned that SVG had skew functionality. I also knew that Visio could export and import SVG files (starting with Visio 2003).
Since SVG is an XML format, I figured I could do some hacking with Notepad and maybe get some extra functionality.Â
First, I created the drawing: SkewWithSvg.vsd by drawing the three basic faces you’ve already seen. I grouped each face and gave them names like Face4, Face5, etc. via the Format > Special dialog. This would make it it easier to locate the shapes in the SVG file when I exported.
I then simply saved the file as SkewWithSvg.svg and opened the result in Notepad. You can the SVG-representation of Face4 here:
<g id="group16-19" transform="skewY(30) translate(63,-495)" v:mID="16" v:groupContext="group">
<g id="shape13-20" v:mID="13" v:groupContext="shape">
<rect x="0" y="702" width="90" height="90" class="st2"/>
<g id="shape12-22" v:mID="12" v:groupContext="shape" transform="translate(9,-9)">
<path d="M72 729 A9 9 -180 1 0 54…" class="st1"/>
You can see that below the first <g> element, there’s a <Title> element with the text Face4. So that’s our group. The transform information is just above, as an attribute of the <g> element. You’ll also notice that I inserted the skewY(30) bit. Note that all the transformations go together between the double-quotes. So you could have: transform=”skewX(30) skewY(30) rotate(45) translate(40,-100)” but they’re all together.
Also note that the order of transformations is important, if you mix them around, you’ll get different results. For the top face, I admittedly just hacked around until I came up with: transform=”rotate(-30) skewX(-30) scale (1.1547,1)…”. The 1.1547 happens to be 1/0.866, and 0.866 is Cos(30), so it was a semi-educated guess. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the circles didn’t skew very nicely. I wanted to show that this isn’t a perfect solution.
Visio can’t handle everything that SVG can. Another example is text. You won’t magically be able to skew text using this method. And when you re-import the svg into Visio, you’ll see some strangeness with the alignment boxes:
So it’s not a magic bullet, but for artwork that has mostly straight lines, it works nicely. If you import metafiles into Visio, and skew them this way, it works well, because (I think) that metafiles actually break curves into small line segments — ie: metafiles only consist of line segments — which makes skewing work very well.
Download “Skewing Visio with SVG Files”
Interesting Visio-SVG links:
Download “Skewing Visio with SVG Files”s!Aj0wJuswNyXlhiFdOraOvSoyAPyC – Downloaded 2039 times – 103 B
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