You can do some crazy things with Visio’s Dynamic connector…if you know how.
The zig-zaggy image at left is actually one badly-mishandled Dynamic connector, if you can believe it!
So come on in and see just how do wreak such havoc on unsuspecting connectors!
A Visio Guy reader posted a question at the end of Text Along a Connector’s Path in Microsoft Visio 2010, asking:
“How do you get this connector to do the fancy zig-zag paths?”
He was referring to the thumbnail image for that article, which sported a whacko connector, similar to the one above. Here it is for reference:
But that article focused on some nifty smart behavior that keeps text aligned along the path, and never bothered to talk about how you go about screwing up connectors in the first place!
Dynamic Connector Handles
If you select a Dynamic connector shape on the page, you’ll see a bunch of green handles (and maybe some red handles too!). Have a look:
You’re probably familiar with the red handles, since they are the Begin and End handles that you drag around and connect to other shapes. When they’re red, they’re glued. When not glued, they are green like most other Visio handles (…until Visio 2010!)
But you’ll see two other styles of green handles. The diamond at each bend indicates a corner, or vertex The x-in-box along the lines indicates a mid-point handle.
If you pause your mouse over any of the handles, Visio will even give you a hint as to what they are for, popping up tooltips that say: “Adjust corner” or “Move midpoint”.
You can grab any of these handles and drag them around to adjust the appearance of your Dynamic connector. Vertices can be moved anywhere, and mid-points can be dragged perpendicular to the line. But there’s more to this story!
Making Angled, V-shaped Bends
If you hold down the [Ctrl] key and drag a mid-point handle, you can create some crazy, angular bends. Check it out:
Making U-shaped Bends
Similarly, you can hold down the [Shift] key and drag mid-point handles around to create additional, rectilinear jogs in your connector:
Mix and Match!
If you’ve had too much coffee, you can [Ctrl] + drag and [Shift] + drag to excess:
That’s one process that definitely could be more efficient!
Getting Rid of What You Have Wrought
The mid-point and corner handles are a bit different from normal vertices you might have encountered on other Visio shapes.
Perhaps you have played with editing vertices on other shapes and noticed that they can be statically selected and deselected? Say you draw a rectangle, then switch to the Pencil or Line Tool, while leaving the rectangle selected. You’ll see little green vertex handles, that look like the corners on a Dynamic connector. But if you click on one of these handles, the handle turns red, indicating you have highlighted it. Click it again and it turns green again. [Shift] + click lets you select multiple handles. Hit delete and the selected/red handles will go away!
The handles on the Dynamic connector don’t behave the same way though. You can only drag them around with a click + drag. You can’t actually click on them to mark them as selected. They are Drag Only, so to speak. This means that you can’t delete them in the same way that you do with normal Visio geometry.
So how do you get rid of unwanted extra bends?
You make them look like they aren’t needed anymore!
The Dynamic connector is smart enough to know when a handle isn’t needed anymore. If you drag a handle such that it is in-line with another leg of the connector, Visio will recognize that the handle you are dragging is no longer needed. You’ll still need the tricks we’ve discussed before, though. To get the job done, you might have to hold down [Ctrl] or [Shift] while trying to get the handle back into line.
Below, we show how to get rid of a U-shaped jog. While holding down the [Shift] key we drag the handle back in-line with the rest of the path:
Visio sees that the jog is now in-line with the other legs and gets rid of superfluous handles. Tada!
So that’s one more item to toss into your bag of Power User Visio tricks!