Archive for April, 2007

Visio Tip-of-the-week: Making diagrams more…web 2.0

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Everything –in case you haven’t heard– is 2.0. Why let your Visio diagrams languish in the 1.0 world?

Five easy steps to making Visio diagrams more 2.0 (please, don’t do all five at the same time):

  1. Change the case
    Sadly, Visio allows for normal (whatever you put in), upper case, small caps and initial caps (aka title case). Making lower case text in your diagrams is a purely manual process. But, when 3.0 rolls around and you want to change everything to upper case, Format > Text > Case: All Caps.
  2. Round those corners
    If you haven’t made rounded corners, you can easily do it with Format > Line > Round corners. When you’re picking the size of the curve, I tend to feel that 0.1875″ in is the most 2.0. Setting the corners to 2.0″ does not make the shape 2.0.
    If you’re going with curves, make sure all the curves in the diagram are the same size. It just looks nicer.
  3. Choose Web 2.0 colours
    Visio 2007 has a much more sensible colour palette compared to Visio of the past – or hunt around the web for examples. One trick is to convert the HEX values that you see on the web into RGB for Visio.
  4. Use a subtle gradient
    Nothing says 2.0 like a gradient. When you’re picking a fill colour, Format > Fill. Once you’re there, pick the colour you like. Then, pick a pattern for the gradient. I recommend #30 – which gives you a nice vertical gradient. Now, pick a subtle colour for the gradient (something a bit darker than your first fill colour works well).
  5. Throw in a drop shadowWeb 2.0 Visio shape
    Drop shadows are perhaps the trickiest of the five steps. If you use the Visio defaults for this, everyone’s going to say “eew, drop shadows.” There is a bunch of controls in the Fill panel (when you right click the shape); but, these options are not enough to avoid the cheese.
    Go up to the Format menu and pick Shadow. For the style, select Offset, custom. Now, you can play with all of the controls for the drop shadow. Lower the number on both the x and y of the offset. (I usually go with 0.03 in and -0.03 in with small shapes)
    Put a gradient on the shadow. The shadow will always have a hard edge. But, this can help to soften it. Try Pattern #40 for this.
    Pick a light grey for the shadow. If it doesn’t seem right, try adjusting the transparency until it looks right.

Not enough? Download the shape you see here.