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.
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!
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):
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:
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.
Hope you find these shapes useful!
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
More Information on Creating Custom Visio Pattern
- Stupid Visio Tricks #821: Thought Balloons
Essentially the article I didn’t have to write! Unfortunately, I didn’t find this link till it was too late! This is from Dan Brown, the man who brought you the Visio Keyboard Shortcut Mousepad!
- Creating Custom Line, Fill and Line-end Patterns in Visio
A farily-detailed article from Chapter 10 of the on-line version of Developing Visio Solutions on MSDN.
- About custom fill, line, and line-end patterns
A rough overview of Visio’s custom line and fill patterns from Office Online.
- How to create a custom fill pattern by using a bitmap image in Visio
An interesting step-by-step from Microsoft Support that shows that you can use images in your Visio custom patterns as well!
- Custom line ends
A quick step-by-step process for creating custom line ends from Visio The Blog
- Custom Visio Solution: Candy Equipment Manufacturing Example (VBA and Active X)
I wrote this demo for Visio Corp.Â back in 1999. There’s heavy use of custom patterns in the Visio document that you might find interesting!
- Visio & AutoCAD