Get started with shapes …

The third video in the MVP Sessions has just been published, and it’s the first one where I do the presentation, rather than the introduction. In this one, I show a few shortcuts to laying out shapes : http://visio.microsoft.com/en-us/Get_Started/How_To/Pages/Get-started-with-shapes.aspx

Enjoy!

Now() then, settle down!

It has long been said that Visio’s ShapeSheet was modelled on Excel’s WorkSheet with it’s ability to enter formulae from a set list of functions. Indeed, there is a lot of similarity between some of Visio’s ShapeSheet functions and similar ones found in Excel, however one should exercise some caution and check that the behaviour is as expected. I recently forgot to do this with the NOW() function, and it caused me some grief for a while.

I had constructed a Today shape in Visio, and used the NOW() function to position the shape in the horizontal, and to display the date value in a Shape Data row and in the ScreenTip.

In Excel, if you enter the NOW() function into a cell, it immediately evaluates when the formula is entered. So, if you enter the same formula in multiple cells (by typing … not copying), it will evaluate at the time that you enter it. Thus you can apparently have different times displayed.

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However, if you save or close then open the workbook, then all of the NOW() formulae are re-calculated at the same time:

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In Visio,the behaviour is different. In the following example, I entered the formula =NOW() into the text of three rectangles, and, as you can see, the time is always the same:

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Moreover, the time updates every minute! In the following screenshot, the Event Monitor, rom the Visio SDK, shows how the NOW() function is fired every minute, in every cell that uses it (even if it is in a Master!) :

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So, be careful how you use the NOW() function in Visio because overuse will slow down your diagram.

The scariest part of any new drawing is a blank piece of paper …

The first of 24 videos has been released at http://visio.microsoft.com/mvpsessions . This one features Scott Helmers doing a tour of templates available in Visio 2010 out-of-the box. I hope you find it useful.

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