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Flip the Switch, Feed the Creature

Submitted by on January 22, 2009 – 6:16 am | | 13703 views 4 Comments

feed-the-creaturePeople really get excited about Visio when they see that SmartShapes can react visually to changing conditions.

Whether you change size or position, data stored with the shape, select a context menu item or double-click, a Visio shape can be built to show that something has changed.

A classic example of this is a simple rectangle that changes color when you extend it beyond a certain length…

Conditionally Formatting a Visio SmartShape

To build such a shape, you would simply draw a rectangle, then edit the FillForegnd cell of it’s ShapeSheet–the spreadsheet-like interface behind every Visio shape.

Using familiar, spreadsheet-style syntax, you can create a conditional IF formula, that will turn the shape red when it was stretched beyond a specified length.

You’ll find the FillForegnd cell in the Fill Format section of the ShapeSheet. An example formula that you could use to create this conditional formatting looks like this:

FillForegnd= IF( Width <= 1in, RGB(0,255,0), RGB(255,0,0) )

Which translates like this:

  • If the shape is less than or equal to 1in, then the fill color is green–RGB(0,255,0)
  • If the shape is greater than 1in, then the shape is red–RGB(255,0,0)

Visually, it looks like this:

green-to-red-rectangle

It’s Not Rocket Science, it’s Ancient History

This sort of stuff has been going on for over 16 years! I recently found a very old example of this simple type of smart behavior on my hard drive.

In that dusty archive was a Visio file that employs slight variations on the simple technique I just described. It combines and arranges simple pieces into a more complicated system, which packs a nifty surprise at the end!

For fun, I checked the attributes of the file, and found that it was:

last modified on Friday, November 13, 1992, 8:08:08 AM

in Seattle, Washington, USA.

Here’s a preview of what the file looks like when you open it. You’ll want to download the actual .vsd to get the full enjoyment.

flip-the-switch

While we are waxing historic, I’d like to add that this file was created by Olav Martin Kvern.

Ole is a seasoned veteran in the desktop publishing and graphics business. He is an accomplished expert and author of many books about Adobe InDesign, Freehand and Pagemaker. He served a stint at the Visio Corporation as the original Shape Master Boss, where he created this drawing as a ShapeSheet proof-of-concept.

Now, be off ! And find what’s lurking in that dark room!

Fun (8.02 kB) - 503

4 Comments »

  • Olav Martin Kvern says:

    Hi Chris,

    What can I say…we were ahead of our time!

    I think I planned to limit the movement of the switch a bit better, and meant to add more features to the creature, but the need to ship Visio 1.0 probably interfered with further research.:-)

    Thanks,

    Ole

  • Shape Wizard says:

    “…but the need to ship Visio 1.0 probably interfered with further research”

    That, or too many rounds of Castle Wolfenstein :)

  • Visio Guy says:

    I’m more astounded by the fact that a Visio 1.0 file still opens than the technical wizardry behind (or not) the actual drawing!

  • Olav Martin Kvern says:

    Shape Wizard wrote: “That, or too many rounds of Castle Wolfenstein.”

    But…can you get out…with just a knife?

    Thanks,

    Ole

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