Many people approach Visio as they would Word or Excel and expect a blank page to appear. With Visio, though, you're better off starting with a template. The page might still be blank at first, but at least by basing it on a template, the appropriate set of shapes will be ready to use. It's easy to select the template you want, because when you start Visio 2007, the Getting Started With Microsoft Office Visio pane shows you previews of the types of diagrams typically created with a particular template, as Figure 1-3 shows.
Figure 1-3: When you start Visio 2007, you can preview sample diagrams for each template within a category.
When you're working in Visio 2007, you can display the Getting Started pane without closing and reopening the program by selecting File, New, Getting Started. A shortcut to the categories of templates is to select File, New, and then click a category to display a submenu of templates.
You can start Visio 2007 with a new, blank drawing, which opens only a drawing page and no stencils. However, starting with a template provides important advantages that help you work more efficiently:
A template can help you solve formatting and design problems in advance. It sets up the appropriate size and orientation of the page for the type of diagram you want to create.
A template opens the stencils that contain the shapes you'll need to use. It includes diagram-specific styles for formatting the shapes.
A template displays rulers and a grid on the drawing page and sets them appropriately for the type of diagram. Templates with "US Units" in the name start a page that displays a ruler with inches; otherwise, metric units are used.
Some templates add special-purpose menus and toolbars. The only way to create certain types of diagrams in Visio 2007 and take advantage of timesaving features is to start with the appropriate template.
Prepopulated starter templates come with draft content already on the page. These can be downloaded from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/visio.
For all these reasons, you're almost always better off using a template. It sets up your working environment for you, so all you have to do is add shapes and text.
To start a diagram with a template, follow these steps:
On the Start menu, click All Programs, Microsoft Office, and then click Microsoft Office Visio 2007.
In the Template Categories pane, select a drawing type. Pictures of specific diagram types appear in the Getting Started pane. Each picture represents a sample diagram created using that template.
Select the picture that represents the diagram type you want to create. Visio 2007 opens a new drawing page. Stencils containing shapes appropriate for that diagram type appear on the left, as Figure 1-4 shows.
Figure 1-4: If you start a new diagram based on the Basic Flowchart (US Units) template, Visio 2007 opens a letter-sized drawing page with four stencils.
Visio 2007 templates establish other page settings that can vary from diagram to diagram. For example, some templates adjust the way shapes snap into position, how they glue to one another, whether drawing pages have backgrounds, and more. This book discusses template-specific settings in the chapters that cover different diagram types.
The Getting Started Screen is a great way to learn about Visio 2007 offerings, as shown in Figure 1-5. The screen shows you diagrams you've opened, templates that you used recently, and options for starting a new diagram based on a template.
Figure 1-5: The Getting Started pane provides shortcuts for creating new diagrams and opening existing ones.
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Choosing whether to use the Getting Started screen
If you prefer not to see the Getting Started screen, select Tools, Options and remove the check next to Getting Started Screen on the View tab.