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This chapter is from the book

Gluing Connectors

There are many ways to connect connectors between shapes, and we'll go over them here, now that we've covered the basics of handling glue. The way you create connections is up to you—you can select from among all the following techniques.

Dragging Shapes

This first technique is a rapid one that helps you create drawings rapidly. It allows you to drag as many shapes as you want from the Shapes window to the drawing surface, and connections are made automatically. The connectors used are shape-to-shape.

Here's how to make this work:

  1. Select the Connector tool. This tool is just to the left of the Text tool (which displays a large A).
  2. Select the shape to connect to in the drawing surface. You need to select the shape to connect to this way to make this technique work.
  3. Drag the shape you want to connect to the drawing surface. Visio draws a shape-to-shape connector between the two shapes.
  4. Repeat the preceding steps until all the connected shapes you want are displayed. Don't forget to change the mouse pointer back to the standard one by clicking the mouse pointer tool in the toolbar.

This is one of the easiest ways of creating connectors—using the Connector tool and letting Visio do the work for you.

Drawing Connectors with the Connector Tool

You can also use the Connector tool to draw connections between existing shapes. And depending on how you draw the connector, you'll get either a point-to-point connector or a shape-to-shape connector.

Here's how to create a point-to-point connector:

  1. Select the Connector tool. This tool is just to the left of the Text tool (which displays a large A).
  2. Move the mouse pointer over a connection point on a shape on the drawing surface. The connection point becomes outlined in red.
  3. Press the mouse button. This starts the connection process.
  4. Drag the mouse pointer to another's shape connection point. This draws the point-to-point connector.
  5. Release the mouse button. This draws the point-to-point connector.

That creates a point-to-point connector between any two shapes using the Connector tool.

Here's how to create a shape-to-shape connector using the Connector tool in Visio:

  1. Select the Connector tool. This tool is just to the left of the Text tool (which displays a large A).
  2. Move the mouse pointer to a shape (not connection point). The shape becomes outlined in red.
  3. Press the mouse button. This starts the connection process.
  4. Drag the mouse pointer to another's shape connection point. This draws the shape-to-shape connector.
  5. Release the mouse button. This draws the point-to-point connector.

And that's it—drawing shape-to-shape connectors is easy with the Connection tool.

As you can see, drawing connectors using the Connector tool is easy and convenient.

Using the Connect Shapes Feature

Here's an easy way to connect multiple shapes at once—you can use the Connect Shapes tool, which appears in the Action toolbar. Using this tool, you can connect multiple shapes at once, as shown in Figure 3.11.

Figure 3.11

Figure 3.11 The Connect Shapes tool.

The Connect Shapes tool shows two boxes separated vertically, with a red line connecting them. It's the third tool from the left in the Action toolbar, and it appears at the location of the mouse pointer in Figure 3.11.

Here's how you connect multiple shapes using the Connect Shapes tool in Visio:

  1. Select the Pointer tool on the Standard toolbar. This tool is the standard mouse arrow pointer.
  2. Holding down the Shift key, click the first shape to connect. The shape becomes selected.
  3. Then, still holding down the Shift key, click the other shapes you want to connect. Make sure you click them in the order you want the connections to follow.
  4. Click the Connect Shapes tool in the Action toolbar. This makes the connectors appear.

And that's it—an easy way to connect multiple shapes. If you don't like the way that Visio has connected your shapes, just drag the endpoints of connectors to where you want them.

Using Automatic Connectors

As of Visio 2007, you can also use automatic connectors to create connections between shapes. You've already see automatic connectors at work, and we'll review the ways to use them here.

The first method lets you create connectors as you add shapes to a diagram. Here's how it works:

  1. Place a shape on the drawing surface. This is the shape that you're going to connect to.
  2. Drag the shape you want to connect to the first shape. You'll see four light blue triangles; these are automatic connection points.
  3. Move the second shape around until one of the automatic connection points on the original shape turns dark. This is the connection point that the second shape will connect to.
  4. Drop the second shape. Visio connects the shapes using the automatic connection point you've selected.

Here's the second method—this is a good technique if you already have existing shapes that you want to connect:

  1. Select the shape you want to connect from. Visio displays automatic connection points.
  2. Hover over the automatic connection point you want to use. Visio darkens the connection point.
  3. Make sure that the target shape appears with a red box around it. Visio selects the target shape it thinks you want to connect to automatically by surrounding it in a red box.
  4. Click the dark blue automatic connection point. Visio draws the connector between the shapes.

And here's the third method. Say you have a shape already on the drawing surface, and want to draw a shape connected to that original shape. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Make sure that the original shape is on the drawing surface. This is the shape that Visio will connect to.
  2. Select the second shape, the one you want a connection to. Do this by highlighting the second shape in the Shapes window.
  3. Hover the mouse over the original shape until the automatic connection points appear. These automatic connection points are light blue.
  4. Move the mouse until one of the automatic connection points turns dark blue. That's how you select where the second shape will connect to.
  5. Release the mouse button. Visio draws the shape selected in the Shapes window, and connects it to the original shape automatically, using the automatic connection point you've selected.

Using the Connector Stencil

Visio comes with a special connector stencil, which you can display in your own templates. Just select File > Shapes > Visio Extras > Connectors to display the Connector stencil.

You can see the Connector stencil at the left in Figure 3.12.

Figure 3.12

Figure 3.12 Special connectors.

You can drag a connector from the Connectors stencil to the drawing surface, then connect the endpoints to connection points on the shapes. You can see this at work in Figure 3.12, in which heptagons are connected.

You can also use the Connect Shapes tool:

  1. Select the Pointer tool on the Standard toolbar. This tool is the standard mouse arrow pointer.
  2. Select File > Shapes > Visio Extras > Connectors to display the Connector stencil. The custom connector stencil appears.
  3. Click the connector you want to use. The connector becomes selected.
  4. Holding down the Shift key, click the first shape to connect. The shape becomes selected.
  5. Then, still holding down the Shift key, click the other shapes you want to connect. Make sure you click them in the order you want the connections to follow.
  6. Click the Connect Shapes tool in the Action toolbar. This makes the connectors appear.

Dragging Connectors from Stencils

Some standard stencils also contain connectors. For example, the Basic Shapes stencil of the Basic Diagram template contains a Dynamic connector and a Line-Curve connector. You can drag the connectors you find in stencils to the drawing surface and then connect the endpoints of the connector to connection points on shapes.

Most of the connectors you'll find in the various standard stencils also appear in the special connector stencil, which you can open with File > Shapes > Visio Extras > Connectors.

Here's how to use the connectors you'll find in various standard stencils:

  1. Select the Pointer tool on the Standard toolbar. This tool is the standard mouse arrow pointer.
  2. Select the connector you want and drag it onto the drawing surface. The connector appears on the drawing surface.
  3. To create a point-to-point connector, drag an endpoint of the connector to a connection point until the connection point appears inside a small red box.

    Drop the endpoint on the connection point. A small dark red box should appear at the join of the connector and the connection point.

  4. To create a shape-to-shape connector, drag an endpoint of the connector to a shape until the shape appears inside a red box. Drop the endpoint on the shape. A bright red box should appear at the join of the connector and the connection point.
  5. Repeat the process for all endpoints of your new connectors.

You can also use the Connect Shapes tool:

  1. Select the Pointer tool on the Standard toolbar. This tool is the standard mouse arrow pointer.
  2. Select File > Shapes > Visio Extras > Connectors to display the connector stencil. The custom connector stencil appears.
  3. Click the connector you want to use. The connector becomes selected.
  4. Holding down the Shift key, click the first shape to connect. The shape becomes selected.
  5. Then, still holding down the Shift key, click the other shapes you want to connect. Make sure you click them in the order you want the connections to follow.
  6. Click the Connect Shapes tool in the Action toolbar. This makes the connectors appear.

Moving Connectors Around

Connectors are by no means simply stuck in place—you can move them around as you want. That's good to know, because when you're creating drawings, things change and move around. In other words, if you decide that a connector would be better in another place, it's easy to move it.

Here's how to move a connector:

  1. Select the Pointer tool on the Standard toolbar. This tool is the standard mouse arrow pointer.
  2. Select the connector you want to move. The connector's endpoints appear.
  3. Drag the connector's endpoint to its new location. The connector moves to your new location.
  4. To create a point-to-point connector, drag the endpoint of the connector to a connection point until the connection point appears inside a small red box. Drop the endpoint on the connection point. A small dark red box should appear at the join of the connector and the connection point.
  5. To create a shape-to-shape connector, drag an endpoint of the connector to a shape until the shape appears inside a red box. Drop the endpoint on the shape. A bright red box should appear at the join of the connector and the connection point.
  6. Repeat the process for all endpoints of the connector you want to move.

In other words, to move a connector, just reconnect its endpoints. That's all it takes—Visio will do the rest.

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