Enhancing Visio Data Graphics Text Callouts

Visio 2007 Professional introduced the wonderful Data Graphics feature to display Shape Data in a clear visual way, but it is not clear how you may, for example, change the font of even the simplest Graphic Item type, Text Callouts.  In this blog, I’ll show you one method that I employ to vary the appearance of Text Callouts.  The same technique can be used for other Graphic Item types, Icon Sets and Data Bars.

I am using the  the sample IT Asset Management drawing to demonstrate throughout, which can be found in the Samples Template Category.  In this diagram, the server shapes on the topology page use the Topology 1 Data Graphic, which can be seen in the Data Graphics panel.

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Microsoft had to introduce a new capability in Visio 2007 in order to get Data Graphics working, namely the ability for a shape instance to hold a reference to a DataGraphic master in addition to its normal master.  So, if you open the Drawing Explorer window, you can see the normal Server master, in addition to the Topology 1 Data Graphic master.  If you open the Topology 1 master, you can see the full Data Graphic, and you can expand the Master Explorer to show that there are multiple shapes inside it.  These shapes are the ones that you see displayed in a more friendly way in the Edit Data Graphic dialog.

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However, you may also notice that this particular Data Graphic uses the same Text callout Graphic Item multiple times.  This is evident if you select Edit Item for Operating System, CPU (MHz), Memory (MB) or IP Address Data Fields in the Edit Data Graphic dialog.  In fact, you can only tell which Graphic Item master is being used in the Data Graphic master in code, or by opening the ShapeSheet of each of the sub-shapes.

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You can see on the Edit Text dialog that you can edit certain properties, but font is not one of them!  SO, how can you edit the font?  Well, you could go around each shape in the diagram, sub-select the shapes and change it that way, or you can create a variation of the Text callout Graphic Item master.

In the Drawing Explorer window, select the Text callout master, then Duplicate on its right mouse menu.  You can then rename the new Text callout.xxx as whatever you like (I have used Text callout A).

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Once you have a copy, you can double-click (or use select Edit Master Shape from its right mouse menu).  You will see that the Text callout master is comprised of two shapes, Sheet.5 (which is the group) and Sheet.6 (a sub-shape of the  group).  The Label text is part of Sheet.5, whilst the value (Abc) is part of Sheet.6.

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You can now edit the font of either the whole lot by selecting the shape, or you can just do the value by selecting Sheet.6 in the Master Explorer window.

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Now, you can close the Master Edit window to save the changes.

Now, when you go to the Edit Data Graphic dialog for Toplogy 1 Data Graphic, and select Edit Item for, say, Operating System, you will find your new variation, Text callout A, listed.

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So, when you select your new variation of Text callout, all of the shapes that use it will be updated automatically!

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Q.E.D.

By the way, there’s more like this in my book …

Posted in Visio. 10 Comments »
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