Visions.eZine Web site
Brainbench has a beta running for its Visio 5.0 user test; they are looking for beta testers to find out how much they know about Visio topics, such as Basics, Shapes, Pages, Layers, Customizing, and Outside Visio. Brainbench provides online certification tests and employment assessments in information technology, finance, sales, administration, health and other categories and plans to have over 450 test categories available by the end of the year.
Earlier this month, Autodesk released Actrix OEM, a
toolkit that allows third-parties to sell a diagramming product
under their own name.
In a conference call with financial analysts August 17, Autodesk's ceo and cfo (chief financial officer) reported the financial results for all Autodesk products -- except Actrix -- nor did any of the analysts ask about Actrix.
Microsoft relaunched Visio's in-house organ 'SmartPages'
as a newsletter distributed by email. The newsletter comes out
every two months, and provides tips along with cheery upbeat news
Russ' Tool Shed Presents "Visio Programming: A Graphics Component for Microsoft Office Application." Visio enables you to visualize the data created by Microsoft Access, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Learn the key benefits and understand when and why you would use Visio in conjunction with Microsoft Office 2000. Learn how to traverse Visio's Object Model and see examples of programmatically controlling Visio through the use of VBA, either from within Visio or any Office application. Attendees recieve a BizTalk Server 2000 Beta and a Windows DNA XML Resource CD v2.0. All events begin at 9:30am and end at 11:30am on Aug 25 in Farmington CT USA (event code 32367), as well as Oct 5 (event code 32366) and Oct 6 (event code 32368). Register at http://www.microsoft.com/newengland/developer/search.htm and search on "Russ" or call 1-877-MS EVENT.
Private Sub btnAcceptCard_Click() Dim curCell As Visio.Cell ' assign fields on form to custom properties ' on new shape's shape sheet... Set curCell = currentShape.Cells("Prop.CardName") curCell.ResultStr(Visio.visNoCast) = "some text in a string"
"From what we've been able to tell, we can retrieve
a string from a custom property, but we can not set the value
of a custom property to be a string.
"We've called Microsoft about this, and they actually escalated us all the way to Visio engineering. Once there, an engineer confided to us that most of the experienced Visio developers had left Microsoft, and so expertise on the product was hard to come by. The engineer said he would research our problem and get back to us, but we haven't heard anything in three weeks -- so we've pretty much given up hope."
- Noah Kaufman
A: As it happens, Mr Kaufman found the answer on his own:
"Forget about my question: I figured it out, and the answer
is stupid and non-intuitive. Thinking like an object-oriented
programmer for a minute, all objects have certain behaviors and
those behaviors can not be deviated from.
"With that in mind, Visio programmers came up with the counter-intuitive method for modifying custom properties by having users read the values using the Result property, but having to set the values using the Formula property. So using the code example below, our code now works:
Private Sub btnAcceptCard_Click() Dim curCell As Visio.Cell ' assign fields on form to custom properties ' on new shape's shape sheet... Set curCell = currentShape.Cells("Prop.CardName") curCell.Formula = "=" & Chr(34) & "some text in a string" & Chr(34)
"The Chr(34) is required because the formula has to be
in the form of
"We discovered this through much introspection, guessing,
and experimentation. Please pass this on in your newsletter so
that other users don't have to go through this 'non-sense,' because
this information is not mentioned anywhere in the Visio documentation."
Tip #43: Installing
Visio 2000 on NT
Q: "I am looking for a tutorial on how to install Visio 2000 on different platforms, such as Win 2K, NT, etc."
- Ernesto García
A: I have found that Microsoft's new install program is much more complicated that the Setup program it used to employ. (If you check out the Acknowledgements section of books about Visio 2000, most of them thank Visio tech support for helping them install Visio 2000!) I guess Microsoft has recognized that the new installer is tough to figure out, so it recently posted a step-by-step Installation Troubleshooter at http://www.microsoft.com/visio/troubleshooter
Tip #44: Reading
Q: "We received a Visio file from one of our clients in AXD format. How do we get it in AutoCAD 2000?"
- Benjamin Sprueill
A: An AXD file is generated by Autodesk's Actrix diagramming
software, not Visio. Ironically, AutoCAD does not read Actrix
files. So, your client needs to use his copy of Actrix to save
the drawing in DWG format. Then, your AutoCAD will be able to
read the translated drawing.
Since the drawing will have been translated, there may be some errors or missing elements. I wrote about this for the CADinfo.net Web site; you might want to search www.cadinfo.net for Actrix to read the article(s). Your client should also send you a printout from Actrix so that you can check the translated drawing for missing entities.
Tip #45: Viewing
Q: "I need to look at papers other people write in VSD format, and therefore need a Visio viewer, but I don't want to buy the full package. I would appreciate if you tell me where I can find one."
- Kfir Ami-Ad
A: "No file viewer is able to display VSD files, other than the (rather crude) preview image. Visio 2000 Standard Edition has a street price of about US$170. Viewer software can cost as much or more than that. Therefore, it seems to me that you might as well get Visio 2000 Standard (which will display VSD files created by any recent version of Visio), and does a 100% accurate job of it."
Tip #46: Editing
Text in Groups
Q: "I loaded the Charts and Graphs solution with the Bar Graph 1. It took me a long time to get the number in the first bar to change. A singe click in the bar brings up a text box below the graph. Is this a bug in Visio?"
- C. K. Yang
A: The bar chart is a "group," and the behavior
of groups has changed in Visio 2000. I don't think this is a bug
as much as a case of unintended consequences. Visio changed its
group behavior with 2000, which was supposed to make it easier
to work with groups. I have found, however, that the new behavior
makes it harder to work with grouped objects. Fortunately, you
can turn off the new behavior as follows:
1. Select the bar chart object.
2. From the menu bar, select Format | Behavior
3. In the Behavior tab, look for the Group Behavior area. In the Selection list box, select "Members First."
4. Click OK.
Now when you double-click the text in a bar, you can edit the text, and Visio automatically resizes the bar.
"Thanks for publishing the recent update about the people
at Visio. I enjoyed reading the news, after having worked with
various Visio people as a 3rd party component supplier for IntelliCAD."
- Mike Kidson, Software Mechanics
"The layers section [in your book "Learn Visio"]
is better than the Visio manual, but needs a less formal tone.
Going from left to right within the table (page 39) you miss out
on the # definition, which is picked up later on page 42. I like
your calling of objects, rather than the manuals obtuse and omnipresence
"Layers ultimately deserve their own chapter with some serious tutorials from you. When Visio gets serious about transparency (opacity), layer could get interesting."
- C. K. Yang
"I am Col Engineer of Brazilian Army. My team is very
small, and doesn't have good experience at working with the many
tasks where CAD is important. I am trying to use the Visio Technical
like a CAD system for projects because (1) it is very easy, more
then AutoCAD; (2) Microsoft bought the Visio recently; and (3)
I can use people who lack the experience of CAD users.
"I am not sure if Visio was the best option. Many times, I think I am investing along the wrong path. In Brazil we don't have good information about Visio. Can you give me one idea about the future of Visio?"
- Silveira Lopes
The editor replies: Visio Technical is best for structured
drawings, which are drawings that use a lot of symbols. Examples
include electrical ladder diagrams and P&ID (piping and instrumentation
diagrams). Visio is less useful for general drafting, such as
architectural and mapping.
As for the future of Visio Technical, Microsoft reassured me that they intend to continue upgrading the program. For example, they plan to add the IAI's IFC (industry foundation classes) to make Technical drawings compatible with objects in other IFC-compatible software products.
"Out of the two products -- Visio and Actrix -- you had
used, which is a better product for network diagramming?"
- Benton Chan
The editor replies: Visio, although you should get the
(more expensive) Visio 2000 Professional or the (even more expensive)
Visio 2000 Enterprise. Visio Ent has everything found in Visio
Pro, as well as the complete VNE (Visio Network Equipment) library
of 20,000 vendor-specific network shapes.
Actrix 2000 has improved its network capabilities, but Visio 2000 continues in the lead. For example, Visio Enterprise can document (diagram) your network automatically.
"Thank you very much for all the time you have taken in
answering my questions. We in the Tech Writing group are confident
that Visio 2000 TE will do what we need it to do, and we will
be upgrading. I only wish Microsoft/Visio had been as helpful
as you have been in answering our questions. I look forward to
future issues of Vision.eZine."
- Dan Plants