If you’ve ever needed to customize a Visio network server shape, then today is your day. We’ve got a tool that allows you to load custom icons into server shapes lickity-split.
The tool is easy to use, and dare I say FUN as well! So quit waiting around for someone else to create custom Visio network shapes. Download this tool and make your own!
Russell C. sent me an e-mail the other day asking if I could point him to any tips on how to create network server shapes with customized icons.
Normally I would eagerly jump into an explanation of how to open up a grouped, copy and paste new contents to it, and perhaps use the ShapeSheet to precisely control the size, position and other characteristics of the new graphics.
But today, I thought I’d go a different route. Why have all these people learn the obscurities of Visio shape creation, when I could build a tool that would allow them to do it in seconds?
I can only hope the answer is that the time I put into creating the tool will be less than the combined time of all those users fiddling with masters, groups and ShapeSheets. Since I went to bed at 3am, I’m not so sure, but we’ll see how many downloads this thing gets 🙂
Visio Network Server Shapes
When you open up the Servers stencil, found under: File > Shapes > Network > Network > Servers, you will quickly notice one thing: the server shapes all look pretty much the same, except for a distinguishing icon:
16 different server types is a good start, and people continue to create new Visio shapes with and disperse them throughout the web. But wouldn’t be great if you could easily create your own?
Well, with the Visio server shape icon customization tool, it’s a snap to create network server shapes like these!
Thanks to Benjigarner for that cool Visio icon, by the way!
Running the Visio Server Shape Icon Customization Tool
When you open up the Visio file, you’ll have to allow the VBA macro-code that is contained in the document to run. You can always disallow the code at first, and examine it once the document has opened to determine if it is in order. Once OK, just close and re-open the document, but this time enable the code.
If you are not familiar with VBA macros, please read: VBA Macro Security. It will help you to understand in-document macros, related security issues, and how to allow them to run when they come from trusted sources.
Once you’ve opened the document, you’ll see something that looks like this:
click to view larger image
The first box contains a “base” server shape that is used to create your new shapes. You don’t need to do anything with this. Don’t move it, don’t delete it.
In the second box, add your custom icon graphics. This can be any number of Visio shapes or imported images. The small white square in the middle is for your reference–icons as small as this square or smaller will look nice in your resulting server shape.
Choose the units that you use: US or metric. this will ensure that your final shape is a nice round size. For US, it will be 0.7 in x 1.0 in, and for metric 18mm x 25mm. Not a huge deal.
Now just click the Go! button. And the code will go to work! You’ll see a pop-up dialog that will ask you for a master name. You can leave it blank, or type in something descriptive like: “Colored squares server” for our example above.
Your new shape will appear in the right-most frame, and any shapes that were there before will be slid down and out of the way, so that you can concentrate on your new creation.
The shape is created as an instance of a master shape. So you’ll also notice a new icon in the document’s Document Stencil. (See: File > Shapes > Show Document Stencil if you don’t see a stencil on your screen) You can add it to your own custom stencils or to My Shapes and Favorites so that it is easily at your disposal for future network diagrams!