As I play with the Office 2010 Technical Preview, I am discovering more new features in Visio 2010 every day.
The live preview stuff is fascinating because it is cool to look and it saves you a lot of time. No more wasted cycles of apply and undo, apply and undo, apply and undo–just hover your mouse over an attribute and Visio shows you what it will look like: live, right on the drawing!
Today I’ll talk about live preview as it applies to formatting, theme colors and theme effects.
Live Preview Formatting
The Home tab of the new ribbon interface contains most of the elemental controls for formatting the line-style, fill and text of your Visio shapes. On this tab, you’ll get live preview for these attributes:
- Fill color
- Shadow color
- Line color
- Line weight
- Line pattern
- Arrowhead style
- Font color
- Font size
I think the most interesting of these is the Font. It is really nice to see how your drawing or diagram will look as you run your mouse down the list of fonts, and every shape on the page updates live as you go!
Themes and Theme Effects
Themes and Theme Effects have also gone live! They made their debut in Visio 2007, but they didn’t have the flair that the other Office 2007 applications did since Visio didn’t have the ribbon. But now Visio has the ribbon, so theming is easy and impressive.
When you click on Visio 2010’s Design tab, you’ll immediately notice the themes bar. It’s the biggest control on the tab, and it contains a bunch of combinations of theme-colors plus theme-effects:
click to view larger image
Combining colors and effects is a nice, yet subtle, improvement over Visio 2007, where you had to switch between two panels to separately choose color-sets or effect-sets.
If you don’t see a combination that you like in the main bar, you can click the down arrow to get a broader selection of built-in and document-specific combinations:
You can tell that the entries are combinations of colors and effects because when you mouse over an icon, a tooltip proclaims the set name, using tasteful, Starbuck-pottery-barny names like:
- Basic colors, Simple Shadow effects
- Office colors, Simple Shadow effects
- Solstice colors, Simple Shadow effects
- Paper colors, Button effects
- Module colors, Square effects
- Aspect colors, Button effects
- Civic colors, Outline effects
- Opulent colors, Mesh effects
- Verve colors, Decal effects
- Origin colors, Raised Surface effects
- Flow colors, Stripes effects
- Metro colors, Oblique effects
Yes, I know, I kn0w…
If you still want to set colors and effects independently, there are two drop-down buttons that let you do this:
The theme Colors drop-down:
And the theme Effects drop-down:
How Live is Live Preview?
Since I can’t just sit by and watch dumb graphics change colors, I thought I’d test the “liveness” of the live preview.
I drew a rectangle on a page, and gave it the stock “Fill” color so that it would react to themes.
You can see that it displays the red-component of it’s fill color, along with the luminosity.
The shape also changes position based on these “red” and “lum” values. This was done via ShapeSheet formulas:
You can see that the position of the shape (PinX, PinY) is controlled by the User.pinx and User.piny cells. These in turn depend on the calculations taking place in User.red and User.lum.
What the formulas do is cause the shape to move around like this: as redness goes up, the shape moves towards the top of the page. As the luminosity goes up, the shape moves to the right.
There’s no practical reason for a shape like this, other than to see what happens during live preview operations. Ie: will the shape jump around while I am previewing themes, or is live preview just smoke-and-mirrors?
But sure enough, Visio 2010’s live preview is truly live. As I moused over various colors, my SmartShape jumped around – all before actually committing a new fill color:
White has a high red-component and high luminosity:
Red has the full red component and:
Green was right in the middle:
And dark-blue has low luminosity and a very low red-component:
So it looks like live preview isn’t a gimmick, its the real deal, and shape smarts are respected…LIVE!