Populating the Timeline
Right-click the timeline shape to reopen the Configure Timeline dialog box (see Figure 4), so we can make some modifications. We're ready to add the inner elements of the timeline. Let's add a diamond milestone to the timeline that shows when we approved the blueprints for the restaurant, making it about two weeks into the span, November 15. Drop the shape on the timeline and enter the information into its dialog box. When you click OK, the milestone appears on precisely the part of the timeline on which it belongs, and description and date are added with a callout (see Figure 5).
Figure 4 Right-clicking the timeline or any shape lets you adjust and change parameters.
Figure 5 Milestone information appears outside the timeline in a callout.
Notice that there are any number of different milestone shapes that you can drop onto the diagram from the stencil. But next, let's use an interval.
In the dialog box shown in Figure 6, we're going to set aside a period from November 18 until January 17 for the construction of the restaurant. Select and drag-and-drop a cylindrical interval onto the timeline, entering Construction as the description. When you click OK, the appropriate information goes into the timeline. To change the information, you can right-click to open the Configure Interval dialog box.
Figure 6 Configuring an interval allows you to set aside a portion of the timeline for a span of time.
Be careful with overlapping intervals where the text will be hidden. Using a bracket interval may alleviate this problem.
After you have populated the timeline with detailed milestones and intervals, you can dress it up using the other stencils. Click open the Borders and Titles stencil; then drag a Title block deco into the diagram and enter a title (see Figure 7). If necessary, drag the control handles to expand the title holder.
Figure 7 The Borders and Titles stencil provides placeholders to add descriptive information to the timeline.
Click the Backgrounds stencil to open it; then drag a background into the diagram and drop it. A decorative background is added to the diagram (see Figure 8).
Figure 8 When you drop a background on the diagram, it goes into a separate background page that can be shared with other pages you may add.
Notice that at the bottom of the page it has gone into a separate new page called Background. As you work with Visio, you may create multiple page diagrams with similar or different stencils, and in this way you can have them share the same background.
At this point you could continue to refine the diagram with new milestones ("Hire chef") or intervals, but first you need to save the diagram as a Visio diagram file (with a .VSD extension). Saving it as a Visio template (with a .VST extension) is also a good idea, because when you open the template all of your stencils (which have now been saved) will open with it.
If you work with Visio a lot, you'll eventually create stencils of your own useful shapes.