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Step 2: Get Visual

Now we're ready for Visio:

  1. Open Visio.

  2. Choose File, New, New Drawing (US Units).

  3. Choose File, Save As, and type a filename (use Supplies.VSD for this example).

  4. Before going any further in Visio, you should make a decision about the artwork you want to use. For this example, we're going to use or modify shapes that come with Visio and will change color to indicate the order levels of the supplies at Eye Tee General Hospital. But we want more precise static representations of each type of supply to go along with those indicator shapes.


    Ask your supply vendor if it's okay to snag photos from their web site for your in-house database, and then paste the static objects onto a background, leaving room for Visio's SmartShapes next to each.

    For this example, we're going to use Visio's Text Tool to create "text drawing objects" (instead of photos) representing the products. If you place the Visio SmartShapes above the Visio text objects, it will appear that the SmartShapes are the objects, and the text objects are just labels for them, which may seem more logical to people than a photo of a product plus a shape object.


    One little rule from the start: Include the Product ID number in all art for the products. Later, when you're matching database records to anonymous shapes to pieces of art, you'll never miss the mystery.

  5. Select the text tool and create the list of supplies from the database in the drawing space, as shown in Figure 2. Note the Product ID number from the database within each text drawing.

  6. Figure 2Figure 2 Creating text drawing objects that contain product ID numbers and product names from the database.

    Now you can select or create the SmartShapes to go with your products or text objects. The SmartShapes may as well be one type for this demonstration, just to keep it moving. The cross in Basic Shapes is reminiscent of a Red Cross symbol. We'll grab that and pop it above the first text object in the drawing (Autoclave).

  7. From the File menu, choose Shapes, Block Diagram, US Units. A Shapes Template appears.

  8. Scroll until you see the cross. Click the Pointer tool on the toolbar; then click the cross and drag it above the text drawing for Autoclave. Resize the cross until it looks like the one in Figure 3.

  9. Figure 3Figure 3 Dragging a cross shape to the drawing area and resizing it with the Pointer tool.

  10. Copy the resized cross and paste it above each text drawing.

  11. If any shapes or text drawing objects refuse to line up, use Ctrl-click to select more than one; then choose Shape, Align Shapes from the menu. A dialog box appears with graphical representations of the types of alignment you might want, as shown in Figure 4. Make your selections and choose OK.

  12. Figure 4Figure 4 Aligning shapes on command.

    Now you're ready for the Viz Wiz.

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