What is the difference between a line and a [dynamic] connector in #Visio?

When I have reviewed some of the criticisms of connecting shapes in Visio on the web, it has been clear that some users have a misunderstanding about lines and connectors. It is not surprising really because the Microsoft Visio help documentation does not currently make the distinction clear. A connector shape is used to connect two shapes together, whereas a line is normally just a straight line. As usual with Visio though, this is not the whole story because a line can be used to connect two shapes together, and it can be turned into a dynamic connector. I will try to explain myself in this article.

The normal way to connect two shapes together is to use the Connector tool (CTRL+3) on the Home / Tools  ribbon, and a line is drawn with the Line (CTRL+6) drop-down menu in the same ribbon group.

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Getting the Name of Glued Connection Points

A Visio developer asked me if it is possible to get the name of connection points that a connector is glued to in Visio. Well, it is not possible directly from the ShapeSheet, but is easy if you use a little code.

First of all, I created a simple Block shape with 3 named connection points on either side of it. I added a little text to the block to display the shape name, and to remind me where the named connection points are.

 

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Adding More Smartness to Visio Connectors

Whenever I have been asked why I like Visio so much, I have usually cited its ability to connect shapes together; its ability to link to data; and its programmability. Visio 2010 formally added a structured diagram concept and API, and the premium edition introduced diagram validation. So many different types of Visio diagrams require elements to be connected together correctly, and I often have to add a little extra into the connectors to make them smarter.

What is a connector?

A connector is a Visio shape that has 1-D behavior. The most used example is the Dynamic connector shape, which not only connects elements together, but can also re-route itself according to the layout and routing options selected for a page.

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