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Chris Hopkins' Visilog
A challenge many users face when building diagrams is getting them to look neat
and organized. Visio has included a number of features to help with the
placement of shapes for many releases. Some of these are manual and only help
when dragging a single shape. Others are automated but often a bit too rigid in
forcing a layout style on shapes with no regard to how the user initially placed
What if you could clean up a diagram with a few clicks, maybe just one, and
preserve the work you have already put into it? In support of the Ease of Use
and Process Management initiatives discussed in our introductory
Visio 2010 post, we have added new layout features that make best-effort
attempts to clean up a diagram while maintaining the general layout that already
exists among the shapes. Rather than tell you how shapes ought to be organized,
Visio assumes you have the placement pretty close and simply neatens things up a
bit. After all, you know what kind of diagram you’re building and where your
This can be accomplished using Auto
Align & Space in the Arrange
group on the Home tab.
Auto Align & Space looks at the selected shapes and determines how two shapes
that are connected together should be aligned and spaced from one another. It
assumes that the shapes are close to the “right” position relative to the rest
of the diagram and makes small adjustments to align and space them evenly,
giving you a neat and orderly diagram. It acts on the selected shapes or, if no
shapes are selected, on the entire page.
For example, the selected shape below is connected to, close to and almost
aligned with the shape on the left. Auto Align & Space examines the connectors
and determines that the selected shape is downstream from – or a child of – the
shape on the left. The selected shape is moved to align with the left shape and
space from it using the default page spacing distance. Everything else connected
downstream from the selected shape doesn’t get left behind – it follows along,
but does not align or space. Of course, you could also select more shapes to
clean up, or have no selection and clean up everything.
In addition to the big Auto Align & Space button, we have broken out Auto Align and Auto Space as separate actions in the Position
dropdown button. One of the big benefits the Ribbon enables is the ability to
preview these actions so you can see the effects before committing to the
change. We’ll talk more about previewing Ribbon actions in a future post.
Spacing Options lets you
choose a non-default spacing distance between shapes for the automatic spacing
We kept the existing Align and Distribute features from previous versions of
Visio and enhanced them by enabling preview. The Distribute actions are less
frequently used and are located in the Space Shapes flyout menu.
The existing rotate and flip shapes behaviors are in the Rotate Shapes flyout menu.
Rotate Diagram is a new
feature that allows you to change the direction a diagram flows by rotating or
flipping it, but without rotating or flipping the individual shapes
Rotate (and Flip) Diagram is handy when you want part of a diagram to rotate
around a parent shape to extend in a different direction, or when you want an
entire diagram to be vertical rather than horizontal. For example, selecting the
shapes shown below and using Rotate Left makes the diagram more compact.
Finally, we have also maintained the existing layout feature from previous
versions of Visio. You can find Re-Layout
Page in the Layout group on the
Design tab. This is useful when you want Visio to completely revise the layout
of the diagram. We pulled the most common layout configurations into a gallery
so you can preview them to see how different layout choices will affect your
diagram. More Layout Options takes you to the traditional dialog
with full layout options.
As always, we're interested in your feedback on layout, so use the Send
a Smile feedback tool or comment
on the blog to let us know what you think.
I have Visio 2010 premium installed. But am not seeing the Sample diagrams and Office.com icons under 'the other ways to get started on my backstage view? Do I have to download them from some internet sites? My backstage view only has two icons blank drawing and new from existing. Any ideas? I'm on Win 7 32 bit system.
That's one I've never seen. I'd suggest posting your question at the Microsoft Office Answers Forum for Visio, here: answers.microsoft.com/.../visio.
Is it possible that your system administrator turned off certain options? For example, it's possible to disable Office.com templates with the following registry setting:
Stephanie, Visio Program Manager