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Microsoft Visio 2013 : Creating a New Diagram - Connecting shapes with lines

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11/23/2014 8:27:09 PM

Visio shapes are either one-dimensional (1-D) or two-dimensional (2-D). 1-D shapes act like lines with endpoints that can be attached to other shapes. 2-D shapes behave like polygons with edges and an interior. However, appearances can be deceiving, because some shapes that appear to be two-dimensional may actually be 1-D shapes in Visio. The reverse can also be true.

In previous exercises, you worked primarily with 2-D shapes. In this exercise, you will connect a variety of 1-D shapes to 2-D shapes.

Note


  1. On the Home tab, in the Tools group, click the Line Tool . Notice that the cursor changes to a plus sign with a diagonal line to the lower right.

    Important

    The Line Tool is one of six tools located behind a button that is immediately to the right of the Pointer Tool. If the Line Tool is not visible, click the arrow next to whichever tool is displayed on the button, and then select the desired tool from the menu.

  2. Point near any of the five shapes toward the top of the page. Notice that dark squares appear on the edges and in the center of the shapes.

    image with no caption

    The dark squares are connection points. They appear whenever you move near them with a 1-D shape or a tool like the Line Tool.

  3. Move the cursor near a connection point and notice that a green square appears. The square indicates that you can click on it to glue one end of the line to the connection point. If you hold the pointer over the square without clicking, tooltip text will appear to confirm that you can glue to the connection point.

    image with no caption
  4. Click the connection point on the right end of the rectangle, drag to the connection point on the left edge of the circle, and then release the mouse button.

    image with no caption

    You have drawn a line that is glued to the edges of the two shapes. Notice that the handle on the originating end of the glued line shows a green circle and the handle on the destination end shows a white circle with a green dot.

  5. Draw another line above the rectangle but do not glue either end to a shape.

    image with no caption

    The line shows a white square on the originating end and a solid gray square on the destination end.

    Tip

    The color distinction between the unglued line ends in this step and the glued line ends in the previous step is an important one in Visio. Although it’s quite obvious in these two examples whether the line ends are connected, in the next step, you’ll find an example in which the color of the line end is very helpful in determining connectedness.

  6. Use the Line Tool to draw a line from the connection point at the center of the octagon to the long rectangle below it. The long rectangle that you created with the drawing tool in a previous exercise does not contain any connection points. Consequently, you can only drop the end of the line onto the shape and can’t glue it. You can confirm which ends are glued by comparing the color and pattern at each end of this line with the handles in the previous two examples.

    image with no caption
  7. On the Home tab, in the Tools group, click the Pointer Tool.

    Note

    KEYBOARD SHORTCUT Press Ctrl+1 (the number one) to return to the Pointer Tool.

  8. Drag the circle up a small distance, and then drag the long rectangle below the octagon down. The following two graphics show the before (left) and after (right).

    image with no caption

    In the after image, the line that is glued to the rectangle and circle stays attached at the connection points. However, the line that touched, but wasn’t glued to, the rectangle is no longer attached to that shape.

  9. On the Home tab, in the Tools group, click the Freeform Tool . Notice that the cursor changes to a plus sign with a squiggly line to the lower right.

  10. Click the connection point in the center of the circle and move the cursor randomly, eventually arriving at one of the connection points on the square. Notice that the line develops a bend each time you make a significant change in direction.

    image with no caption

    There are several important things to note about the line you’ve drawn:

    • If you glued both ends of the line to connection points, the curved line behaves just like the straight line: if you move the shapes, the line will follow. In the case of the freeform line, the line will also retain its unique set of curves. (Try moving the shapes attached to your squiggly line; the results are often quite interesting.)

    • There are blue circles at the key points of curvature along the line. These circles are actually control handles that you can drag to reshape the line.

    • The blue circles are only visible if you select the shape with one of the line tools (Line, Freeform, Arc, or Pencil). If you select it with the Pointer Tool or the Rectangle or Ellipse Tools, only the endpoints are visible, as shown in the following graphic.

    image with no caption
  11. In a blank area of the drawing page, draw a freeform line, but be sure to end it at exactly the same point that you started.

    image with no caption

    Notice the important difference from the line you drew in the previous step: as soon as you finish “closing the loop,” Visio applies a fill to your new shape and there are no square handles at the beginning and end of the line. By ending your line at the same place you began, you’ve actually drawn a 2-D shape, not a 1-D shape.

Note

CLEAN UP Save your changes to the Connecting Shapes drawing but leave it open if you are continuing with the next exercise.

Though you didn’t use them in this exercise, you can experiment with the Arc and Pencil tools to learn about their unique characteristics.

In a previous exercise, you used the Size & Position window with a 2-D shape. If you open the Size & Position window for a 1-D shape, it contains fields that are appropriate to a line. In the following graphic, the coordinates of the beginning and ending points of the line, its length, its angle, and its height are visible. Note that the length is the absolute difference between the beginning and end of the line, and not the linear distance the line traverses.

image with no caption
 
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