You can create most Visio diagrams successfully without a detailed understanding of how shapes work. However, if you want to create your own shapes or revise an existing shape, your task is easier if you know what you're dealing with. This section breaks down shapes into their geometric parts, explains shape vocabulary and why shape geometry is useful to understand. If you remember your high school geometry, you have an advantage, but even if you don't know a vertex from a vortex, you'll learn some practical techniques for getting shapes to look and act the way you want.
Visio includes many terms for describing the vector-based geometry that underlies shapes. If you reduce any shape to its simplest, constituent parts—what's left after you remove the colors, styles, and other formatting attributes—you have line segments and arc segments. It's easiest to see them when you select shapes with the Pencil tool, as Figure 22-1 shows. Where these segments join, a diamond-shaped vertex appears. In the middle of a line segment, a control point appears, which looks like a circle with a dot in it. To reshape any shape, you can add, move, and delete vertices using the Pencil tool. You can also change the curvature of a line segment by dragging its control point.
Figure 22-1. When you select a shape with the Pencil tool, its vertices and control points are displayed so that you can control shape geometry.
Visio tucks a number of drawing tools into drop-down toolbars. Often, you end up displaying them all before you find the tool you want. The last tool used becomes the one shown on the toolbar. Figure 22-2 shows the drawing tools, which are part of the Standard toolbar.
Figure 22-2. To draw new shapes, use the drawing tools on the Standard toolbar.
Despite the number of drawing tools in Visio, you can really create only the following types of shape geometry, as Figure 22-3 shows:
Figure 22-3. All shapes are made up of line segments, arc segments, or splines.
To change the look of a shape—that is, to edit its geometry—use the Pencil tool. By selecting, moving, and deleting vertices and control points, you can radically alter shape geometry, turning squares into stars or triangles, flat lines into mountains or valleys, and so on.
Follow these steps to select a vertex:
Follow these steps to move a shape vertex:
Follow these steps to add a vertex and reshape a shape:
Follow these steps to delete a line segment: