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Developing Custom Microsoft Visio 2010 Solutions : Creating SmartShapes with the ShapeSheet (part 2) - Creating Smart Geometry in the ShapeSheet

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4/17/2014 1:49:10 AM

Creating Smart Geometry in the ShapeSheet

Reading about ShapeSheet theory can be duller than a whetstone in a spoon factory. You will retain more information if you fiddle with it in real-life. So let’s jump in and take it for a spin!

Your first task is to build the right side of the notes shape—just the arrow portion. Keeping the point a consistent size is the perfect exercise for understanding the ShapeSheet’s capabilities. Before long, the ShapeSheet will be familiar, and you will have built a functioning, useful SmartShape.

Creating a Smart Pointed Box with the ShapeSheet
1.
Start a new blank drawing, and draw a simple rectangle on the page.

2.
Show the ShapeSheet for the rectangle. Select the rectangle, go to the Developer tab and click the Show ShapeSheet button in the Shape Design group. Note that this button has a drop-down list that lets you choose from shape, page, or document, so pages and documents have ShapeSheets, too.

3.
You see a ShapeSheet window similar to the one in Figure 1. Note that the ShapeSheet Tools contextual tab appears.

4.
Switch between formulas and values by clicking the two leftmost buttons in the ShapeSheet Tools tab on the Ribbon. Note how the cells in the ShapeSheet window change between number-and-units such as “4 in.” and formulas such as “Width*0.5” (F5 also toggles formulas and values.)

5.
Right-click anywhere in the ShapeSheet window and choose View Sections. A list of mysterious-sounding ShapeSheet sections appears. By default, all sections are checked to be visible. However, if you can’t find a section you are looking for later on, be sure to visit View Sections to see if the section has been hidden.

6.
Resize the ShapeSheet window so that you can see your rectangle and the ShapeSheet at the same time (View, Window, Arrange All).

7.
Enter different numbers for Width, Height, Angle, PinX, and PinY and watch what happens to your shape. PinX and PinY specify the horizontal and vertical positions of your shape on the page. You can enter different measurement units along with your values, such as 1.25cm, 3.04m, 72pt, and so on.

8.
Make sure that the ShapeSheet is displaying values and then resize, move, and rotate the shape in the drawing window. Notice what happens to values in the Shape Transform section of the ShapeSheet. What you do in the drawing window shows in the ShapeSheet, and what you do in the ShapeSheet shows in the drawing window.

9.
Switch to view formulas. Note that all the Geometry formulas are expressed as percentages of width and height. There is no requirement for this, but it is the default.

10.
In the Geometry 1 section, click in the X2 cell, where it says “Width*1.0.”

11.
Change the formula to Width*0.5. You can either type in an entire formula or edit the existing one. To get into formula editing mode, double-click a cell, or select a cell and press the F2 key. When you finish changing the formula, press Enter. Your shape and ShapeSheet should look similar to Figure 3.



Figure 3. Changing the x-location of Geometry1.X2 to be half of the width of the shape. Notice that the point represented by the selected ShapeSheet cell is highlighted with a black square in the drawing window.

12.
Notice that Geometry1.X1 and Geometry1.X4 both have the same x-location. They are on the left side of the shape and have the X formula “Width*0.” You can reference one cell from another, similar to the way you do in Excel. Because both cells have the same location, practice creating a reference.

13.
To create a cell-to-cell reference, click on the Geometry1.X4 cell. Press the equal key; then click on the Geometry1.X1 cell. You should see “=Geometry1.X1” in the X4 cell. Press Enter to finish the formula. Your shape should not visually change, but your ShapeSheet should look exactly like Figure 3.

This is also a great way to find out the name of any cell in the ShapeSheet. Select any cell, type “=”, then click another cell. You will see the name of the target cell in the source cell. Press Esc to cancel the editing and leave the source cell unchanged.

14.
You can add points to your shape from the ShapeSheet. You want to create a pointed box, so you need one more point. This coincides with one more row in the Geometry section.

15.
Insert a new point just after point 2 in Geometry1. Click on the X or Y cell in row 2. Right-click and choose Insert Row After. A new row appears, Geometry1 now has six rows.

16.
Change the X formula of Geometry1.X3 to Width*1.0.

17.
Make a reference from Geometry1.X4 to Geometry1.X2 so that Geometry1.X4 = Geometry1.X2. Figure 4 shows how your shape and its ShapeSheet should appear.

Figure 4. A rectangle becomes a pointy box thanks to ShapeSheet manipulation. The shapes at the top show how your example currently behaves when resized to different widths.

18.
Notice that points 2 and 4 control the shape of your arrowhead. They are at the midpoint of the shape, so the head becomes longer when you stretch the shape, as shown in Figure 4. You really want the head to maintain a constant sharpness, regardless of the shape’s length. This means that points 2 and 4 need to be a fixed distance from the right side.

19.
To make the point a fixed size, change the formula in Geometry1.X2 to =Width − 0.25in. Notice that both the top and bottom head points move. The reason is that X4 references X2. Now, if you resize the shape, the point retains a consistent sharpness. You have just replaced a proportional formula with a parameterized, fixed-offset formula.

20.
Notice that if you make the height of your arrow shorter or taller, the point gets sharper or duller. The arrow still needs to be smarter. You can do this by making the length of the head a function of the height of the shape. Change Geometry1.X2’s formula to =Width-Height*0.5. Figure 5 shows the final ShapeSheet, along with examples of the shape with various widths and heights.

Figure 5. The length of the head of the pointed box is always one-half the height of the body. No matter how long or thick the shape is, the sharpness stays constant. When many differently sized shapes are on the page, there is an uncluttered, visual consistency.

21.
Save your document .
 
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