Thursday, January 25, 2007
Changing shape size in Microsoft Visio
In many cases, editing a diagram involves dropping many different shapes on a sheet and then playing around with them, arranging them into a visually acceptable layout. In this process, it is often required to perform operations on the shape which are relative to other shapes on the same sheet. Some of those operations are supported by Visio, such as shape distribution, grouping and alignment. However, there are some very basic functions which are simply not there, for example - making several selected shapes the same size.
In my opinion, this is a major usability flow. All you want to do is select several shapes and then click something to make them all same width or same height. It is hard to believe that this operation is nowhere to be found, not even in the 2007, which, frankly failed to make the same breakthrough progress as Word or other Office applications in terms of usability improvements.
Untill now, I have found two ways to deal with the problem. If shapes are of the same type, I copy them instead of dropping fresh ones from the stencil and then carefully adjust the font size to fit in all of them. If I have to adjust their size, I carefully select them all and resize them all at once, which is possible for some not too populated diagrams.
Another, more civilized, way of doing this is to open a Size & Position window from the View menu. In this window, you can see the size and position properties of the selected shape. You can then select several shapes, and update their width or height by typing the required value into the box. In order to make those shapes the same as the one you want, you have to select it first so that its properties are shown in the window. Ah, but there is another problem. You can't just hit enter, the edit box recognizes the fact that no change was made and does nothing, you have to retype the value again to have the desired effect. Still it's better than nothing.
I looked all over the net for the solution and I can't get rid of the feeling that I am missing something here. Can it be? Well, maybe they are saving it for the next version :)