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Creating a Visio Flowchart

Last updated Mar 26, 2004.

Creating a Visio Flowchart

When Visio opens, you get only the task pane, but boy, is it powerful! The templates in the task pane can suggest and begin any one of dozens of diagrams to convey your message (see the following figure).

Figure 128Figure 128 The Visio task pane contains numerous templates for diagram types to help convey complex ideas.

Let's try a simple Visio project. Because Visio is particularly adept at showing process, we'll use a basic flowchart to illustrate and collect some info about a series of steps we follow with Surrealty.

  1. As the principal of Surrealty, assume that you're thinking of taking on some associates. But you have a very specific way of doing things and costing out the sale or purchase of property. What you want to do is create a diagram that not only conveys the right way to go through the process, but can also calculate some costs and track information. Click the Basic Flowchart (US Units) template to open the Visio diagram.

  2. From the Shapes stencil (see the following figure), drag the first process shape and drop it onto the diagram. Then begin typing a concept, such as Find property.

  3. Figure 129Figure 129 The flowchart and other diagrams open with a set of stencils containing shapes that will populate the flowchart.

  4. We're going to get into custom properties now. Normally, this topic would be way down the road, after you've explored all the Visio shapes and created some diagrams. But you can learn those aspects as you need them. Right-click the shape you created, and click Shape, Custom Properties, as shown in the following figure.

  5. Figure 130Figure 130 Flow chart shapes have custom properties already assigned that you can access.

  6. Custom properties are database records inside the shape! If you look at the dialog box, you can figure out how to use the assigned properties, and fill in some data for our hypothetical task (see the following figure).

  7. Figure 131Figure 131 Custom properties are database records that can be filled in.

  8. To dig further into the potential of custom properties, click Define. Notice that the first field, Cost, is defined as currency, the Duration field is a simple number, and the Resources field is a string or text field, as shown in the following figure.

  9. Figure 132Figure 132 You can change the definition of custom properties for the shape, or create your own.

  10. Choose View, Custom Properties to open the Custom Properties window, and drag another process shape onto the page. Call it Contact Owner. Set Cost as $5.00, Duration as 0.5, and Resource as Phone. (Make sure that the shape is selected to access the fields for that shape in the Custom Properties window.) The following figure shows how it should look.

  11. Figure 133Figure 133 You can add your custom properties directly in the Custom Properties window.

    TIP

    You can set up the custom properties so that when a shape with custom properties is dropped, the dialog box opens automatically. To do this, switch to Developer Mode by choosing Tools, Options, clicking Advanced, and selecting Developer Mode.