The last time I flew the Amsterdam to Seattle route on Northwest Airlines, I noticed an interesting graphic while trying to figure out how to watch a movie with the in-flight entertainment system.
The graphic showed a clever way to squeeze more steps into a gauge-graphic without using more space.
Of course I couldn’t resist turning it into a Visio SmartShape. You can download it here and use it your presentations and documentation to show ratings, status, priority or other relative data values that will pop off the page when illustrated visually!
Six-inch Screen: Not a Lot of Space!
Since the screen jammed into the head-rest of the guy-in-front-of-me’s seat is so small, the UI designers of the Linux-based system (I know, I saw a penguin on the reboot screen after the system crashed…) needed to cram more steps into a small space.
The control was used to adjust volume and brightness, and used “half-step dots” to increase the fineness or resolution of the control. It makes immediate sense if you just have a look:
As you increased or decreased the level, the dots would sort of stutter at a position as they went from half-dot to full-dot, then on to the next location.
I just hope that the airlines won’t try and use this method to jam more people into the plane!
Your Very Own Gauge Shape!
Anyway, as I hinted before, I’m a visual geek and an info-graphic freak, so I couldn’t resist building a Visio SmartShape that mimicked this functionality! The image above shows the shape when it is configured to go from zero to five. But you can set it to have less increments:
Setting the options of the shape are as easy as pie:
Yep, just right-click the shape to choose a value and a maximum value. If you’ve set your shape to have less possible values, the options shrink correspondingly:
And if you like to burn up your color printer’s toner as fast as you can, you’ll be pleased with the shape’s behavior with Visio 2007’s Themes functionality.
With the click of a button or two, you can change the look and feel of your document–colors, fonts, shadow effects, backgrounds–and your gauge shape goes nicely along for the ride!
Data Graphic, Please?
The shape can be placed as-is into any Visio drawing, and quickly configured. But it also screams to be used as a data-graphic. Maybe some of you feel like taking on this challenge. If so, have a look at: Building Custom Data Graphics for Visio 2007 on MSDN.
You’ll also information about building data graphics on Visio Guy. Check out these articles:
- Trilogy-meter Data Graphics Part I
- Trilogy-meter Data Graphics Part II
- Trilogy-meter Data Graphics Part III
- Ape to Man Data Graphic
- Forefront Icons and Data Graphic Shapes
- Book Review: Visualizing Information with Microsoft Office Visio 2007
- Data Graphics Resources
- 12 Month Data Graphic Shape (almost)
And if you liked the style of today’s gauge shape, check out these articles that relate to similar SmartShapes:
- Run Circles Around Your Text With the Circle-text Title SmartShape
- Number Your Pages Visually
- Number Your Pages Visually…Some More
Other suggested uses for the volume gauge: