Connecting Shapes in Flowcharts

Flowcharts are the ideal diagrams for visually representing business processes. For example, if you need to show the flow of a custom-order process through various departments within your organization, you can use a flowchart. Visio includes several different flowchart templates; however, the most common type of flowchart uses simple shapes to represent the basic elements in a business process, as shown in the following table.

Shape Name

Shape

What It Represents

Process

Steps in a business process

Decision

Decisions in a business process

Document

Steps that result in or require documentation

Data

Steps that require data

Tip

As you drag a flowchart shape onto the drawing page, a dynamic grid appears as a dotted line through the shape to show you how to align it with respect to the shapes already on the page.

You add connectors between these flowchart shapes to show relationships between them and the sequence of steps in a process. Flowchart connectors are usually lines with arrowheads that can include text to clarify the process being depicted. When Visio adds a connector (or you add one yourself), the endpoints of the connector glue to the shapes it connectsthat is, Visio creates a bond that won't break unless you move a connector endpoint or delete the connector. When you select a connector that is glued to a shape, the connector's endpoints turn red, indicating that the connector will be rerouted when you move the connected shapes.

The method you use to connect shapes in a flowchart determines how the connectors reroute and how much control you have over where connectors are attached to shapes. If you simply connect one shape to another without specifying a point of connection, you don't have any control over how the connectors reroute, which is preferable for many diagram types. However, when you need total control over your shape connections, you can connect shapes using connection pointsspecific points on a shape represented by a blue x symbol. That way, the connector stays connected to those specific points, regardless of where you move the shapes.

Visio provides several methods for connecting shapes. Each method offers different levels of control, and some are more suited for particular drawing types, as shown in the following table. When you work with Visio, you typically use a combination of these methods when creating your diagrams.

Connection Method

How To Use It

When To Use It

AutoConnect shapes by dragging a shape onto the drawing page

Drag a shape onto another shape on the drawing page, and when blue arrows appear around the shape on the drawing page, position the shape over one of the arrows.

Use this method when you want Visio to connect, align, and evenly distributes the shapes for youall in one step.

Example diagram types: Any diagram that shows relationships, such as basic flowcharts, cross-functional flowcharts, or audit diagrams.

Level of control: When you don't care exactly where two shapes connect to each other, how the connectors reroute, and the exact position of the connected shapes.

AutoConnect shapes by clicking a shape on a stencil

Click a shape on a stencil, and then position the pointer over a shape on the drawing page. When blue arrows appear around the shape on the drawing page, click one of them.

Use this method when you want Visio to automatically connect shapes for you and you want to rapidly connect multiple shapes.

Example diagram types: Any diagram that shows relationships, such as basic flowcharts, cross-functional flowcharts, or audit diagrams.

Level of control: When you don't care exactly where two shapes connect to each other, how the connectors reroute, and the exact position of the connected shapes.

AutoConnect neighboring shapes that are already on the drawing page

Pause the pointer over a shape on the drawing page, and when blue arrows appear around the shape, move the pointer over the blue arrow closest to the neighboring shape to which you want to connect. The blue arrow turns dark blue, a red box appears around the neighboring shape to which you can connect, and a Connect to Neighboring Shape ScreenTip appears. Click the blue arrow to connect the two shapes.

Use this method when you want to connect neighboring shapes that are already on the drawing page.

Example diagram types: Any diagram that shows relationships, such as basic flowcharts, cross-functional flowcharts, or audit diagrams.

Level of control: When you don't care exactly how the connectors reroute.

Connect shapes as you drag them onto the page using the Connector tool

Click the Connector tool, and then drag shapes onto the drawing page. Each new shape is connected to the selected shape on the drawing page.

Use this method when you want to connect new shapes to the selected shape on the drawing page.

Example diagram types: Any diagram that shows relationships, such as basic flowcharts, cross-functional flowcharts, or audit diagrams.

Level of control: When you don't care exactly where two shapes connect to each other and how the connectors reroute, but you do want to precisely position the connected shapes.

Connect shapes already on the drawing page using the Connector tool

Position the pointer over a shape on the drawing page, and then drag to another shape to draw a connector between the two shapes. Or, position the pointer over a shape's connection point, and then drag to another shape's connection point to draw a connector between two shapes.

Use this method when you want to connect shapes that are already on the drawing page.

Example diagram types: Basic flowcharts and data flow diagrams.

Level of control: This method gives you control over the precise point of connection between two shapes, if you connect the shapes using their connection points.

Connect shapes that are already on the drawing page using the Connect Shapes command

Hold down the Shift key, select all the shapes you want to connect, in the order you want to connect them, and then on the Shape menu, click Connect Shapes.

Use this method when you want to connect shapes that are already on the drawing page in a specific order.

Example diagram types: Any diagram that shows relationships, such as basic flowcharts, cross-functional flowcharts, audit diagrams, fault-tree analysis diagrams, and work flow diagrams.

Level of control: When you don't care exactly where two shapes connect to each other or how the connectors reroute.

Connect shapes already on the drawing page by using a connector from a stencil

Drag a connector from a stencil onto the drawing page, position one endpoint on a connection point on one shape, and then position the other endpoint on the connection point on the other shape.

Use this method in diagrams that use specific types of connectorsfor example, a 3-D arrow in block or ITIL diagram and network equipment in racks.

Example diagram types: Basic, block, brainstorming, cause and effect, charts and graphs, ITIL, network diagrams, and value stream maps.

Level of control: This method gives you control over the precise point of connection between two shapes.

Important

The next section of this chapter covers different types of connections, connection points, and how to reroute connectors in more detail.

In this exercise, you start a new diagram based on the Basic Flowchart template. You use AutoConnect and the Connector tool so that Visio draws connectors and connects the shapes in your flowchart for you. You add text to the shapes and connectors to indicate a yes or no decision.

1.

Start Visio. On the Template Categories list, click Flowchart.
 

2.

Under Featured Templates, double-click Basic Flowchart.

The Basic Flowchart template opens a blank drawing page and the Basic Flowchart Shapes, Backgrounds, Arrow Shapes, and Borders and Titles stencils.
 

3.

From the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil, drag a Process shape onto the drawing page and position it near the top of the page.
 

4.

From the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil, drag a Document shape onto the drawing page, position it over the Process shape, position it over the bottom blue arrow that appears below the Process shape, and then release the mouse.

Visio draws a connector between the shapes, and aligns and distributes them.
 

5.

On the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil, click the Decision shape.
 

6.

Pause the pointer over the Document shape on the drawing page until blue arrows appear around the shape, and then click the bottom blue arrow.

Visio adds a Decision shape below the Document shape and draws a connector between the shapes.
 

7.

On the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil, click the Document shape.
 

8.

Pause the pointer over the Decision shape on the drawing page until blue arrows appear around the shape, and then click the bottom blue arrow.

Visio adds a Document shape below the Decision shape and draws a connector between the shapes.
 

9.

Select the Decision shape on the drawing page.
 

10.

On the Standard toolbar, click the Connector Tool button.

The pointer displays a connector icon.
 

Connector Tool

11.

From the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil, drag another Process shape onto the drawing page and position it to the left of the bottom Document shape.

Visio draws a connector between the Decision and Process shapes.
 

Tip

Visio can number the shapes in your flowchart for you. To specify the numbering settings, on the Tools menu, point to Add-Ons, point to Visio Extras, and then click Number Shapes.

12.

From the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil, drag a Decision shape onto the drawing page and position it below the Process shape you just added to the drawing page.

Visio draws a connector between the Decision and Process shapes.
 

13.

From the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil, drag a Document shape onto the drawing page and position it to the below the Decision shape you just added to the drawing page.

Visio draws a connector between the Decision and Document shapes.
 

14.

On the Standard toolbar, click the Pointer Tool button.
 

Pointer Tool

15.

From the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil, drag a Document shape onto the drawing page and position it to the left of the Document shape you just added to the drawing page.
 

Tip

You can use the dynamic grid to align the two shapes.

16.

On the Standard toolbar, click the Connector Tool button.
 

17.

Pause the pointer over the last Decision shape you added to the drawing page until a red box encloses the shape.
 

18.

Drag to the last Document shape you added to the drawing page until a red box encloses that shape, and then release the mouse.

Visio draws a connector between the Decision and Document shapes.
 

19.

On the Standard toolbar, click the Pointer Tool button.
 

20.

Click the top Process shape to select it.
 

21.

Hold down and left-click the top Process shape to zoom in on it.
 

22.

With the top Process shape selected, type Receive Exhibitor Request.

The text is added to the shape.
 

23.

Select the next Document shape, and type Send Application.
 

24.

Select the next Decision shape, and type Qualify?.
 

25.

Select the next Document shape that's below the Decision shape, and type Send Denial.
 

26.

Select the Document shape that's to the left of the previous Document shape, and type Forward Application to Tradeshow Coordinator.
 

27.

Select the connector that connects the previous Qualify? shape to the Forward Application to Tradeshow Coordinator shape.

The connector's endpoints turn red, indicating that the connector is glued to the shapes and will be rerouted when you move the connected shapes.
 

28.

Type Yes.

The text is added to the connector.
 

29.

Select the connector that connects the previous Qualify? shape to the Send Denial shape, and then type No.

The text is added to the connector.
 

30.

Click the pasteboard to deselect the connector.
 

31.

On the File menu, click Save As to open the Save As dialog box.
 

32.

In the File name box, type ConnectFlowchart, and then click the Save button to save the flowchart.
 

CLOSE the ConnectFlowchart file.



Quick Reference

Getting Started with Visio 2007

Adding Shapes to Diagrams

Formatting Shapes and Diagrams

Connecting Shapes

Creating Project Schedules

Creating Organization Charts

Laying Out Office Spaces

Creating Network Diagrams

Glossary

About the Authors

Choose the Right Book for You



Microsoft Office Visio 2007 Step by Step
Microsoft Office Visio 2007 Step by Step (Step By Step (Microsoft))
ISBN: 0735623570
EAN: 2147483647
Year: N/A
Pages: 81

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