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Bubble Revision Shapes

Submitted by on November 4, 2006 – 12:16 pm | | 98178 views 57 Comments

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If you use Visio for CAD-like purposes, you might need to make revisions or “AS-BUILT” modifications to your drawings from time to time. Often this is shown by drawing a squiggly cloud, or bubble, around the portion of the drawing that has been modified.

I’ve created three shapes for doing this for you to download.

The Way It Was

Visio has a Revision Cloud shape on the Annotations stencil that is…well…less than adequate. (You can find it under File > Shapes > Visio Extras > Annotations.) The problem is that you don’t get more bubbles as you stretch the shape; it just looks wrong.

Better Mousetrap

The shapes that accompany this post utilize custom patterns. Custom patterns are elemental graphics that can repeat themselves as line or fill patterns. I won’t go into how to create custom patterns in this article, but there are several links at the end of the post that will take you to this knowledge.

The new bubble shapes define a pattern that has three bumps. When you apply them to a shape, they simply repeat around the perimeter, giving you a nifty Revision Bubble!

Bubble Revision Pattern Unit

You can see where the custom bubble patterns are stored in the Visio document by clicking this menu item: View > Drawing Explorer Window, then expanding Line Patterns tree node.

For this post’s download, you will see three patterns: RevBubble (L), RevBubble (M), and RevBubble (S):

Custom Line Patterns in Drawing Explorer

To apply a pattern to a shape, simply select the shape and choose Format > Line from the menu. Click the Pattern drop-down and scroll all the way to the bottom to see the custom patterns available:

Bubble Patterns in Line Format Dialog

It’s also a good idea to apply some corner rounding if your revision shapes have a lot of sharp corners. The custom bubble pattern looks better when it goes around soft, rounded corners than when it has to be stretched around a sharp corner.

Make the Bubbles Bigger or Smaller

There are two ways that you can increase the size of the bubbles on your shapes.

1. Apply a different bubble pattern, ie: “RevBubble (S)” for small, “RevBubble (M)” for medium, and RevBubble (L) for large.

2. Increase the line-weight of the shape. The bubbles will get bigger when you increase the line-weight of the shape, but the thickness of the bubble-lines will also increase.

Of course you can mix the two, and this two-axis diagram attempts to illustrate what is going on! It’s kind of luck a Bang for the Buck chart, in that the bubble size increases as you go right or up — as you increase the pattern size or the line-weight.
Two Ways to Increase Pattern Size
Hope you find these shapes useful!

Download “Visio Bubble Revision Shape” RevisionBubbleShapes.zip – Downloaded 9585 times – 32 KB

Need More? Have Spare Change but No Patience?

Try out the Über Bubble Revision Shape that I have developed, available via Gumroad. It has the same three bubble sizes as the free version above, plus a line mode that makes it easy to see what you’re doing, during adjustment. It also has three built-in forms: rectangle with corner cut-outs, ellipse, and point-to-point with eight independent vertices. This is all built into one single shape, so the shape is not only more capable than the free version, it is more streamlined! Have a look:


More on Visio and CAD

Visio Guy CAD Category

More Information on Creating Custom Visio Pattern


  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi Sargon,

    Thanks for testing this. I had a feeling it might not work. One not-so-nice workaround is this:

    1. Copy a bubble revision shape
    2. Paste Special – as enhanced metafile
    3. Ungroup

    You will have a bunch of individual arcs, and individual text blocks for each line, and each change in text formatting. This mess can be grouped together into a single shape, which should export to CAD. But now you’ve lost the nice SmartShape behavior – so it should only be done after the shape has been adjusted to its end state.

    I will report this to Microsoft as an issue.

  • Sargon Yalda says:

    Thank you for this response, however we convert in Batch, sometimes upwards of 1000 files. So this will not be an effective method to transfer the bubbles one by one.

  • Andrew says:

    These shapes are great, and make working in Visio much easier. Is there a way to get the same bubble revision shapes in Excel?

  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi Andrew,

    You could always copy, then paste-as-metafile into Excel, and it *might* work. But you won’t have the nice resizing smarts that you have in Visio.

    I wonder how hard it is to make custom shapes in Excel that have the little control handles. I can see this being pretty cool in Excel, as you implied!

  • Mohammad says:

    How can I fill it with hatch to show demolition?

  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi Mohammad,

    This version doesn’t accept fills, due to limitations of Visio and the mechanism I’m using to create it.

    I have a prototype that allows fills, but it is more complicated, and uses VBA code. I haven’t had sufficient free time to publish it, unfortunately.

  • Sargon Yalda says:

    To add to previous requirement, it would be great if the bubble rev convert to AutoCAD. Currently is does not do that.

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