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Chapter 6. Storing Data in Diagrams > Working with Shapes, Data, and Custom Pro...

Working with Shapes, Data, and Custom Properties

During Visio’s development cycles, the product’s designers realized that the drawings could have value beyond their worth as graphical representations. Part of what makes a Visio drawing valuable is the investment of time taken to create it, but a more significant part of a drawing’s value comes in the form of important, job-critical information that can be stored right in the drawing. When you view the shapes in a drawing as meaningful conveyors of information, rather than simply graphics, you can use Visio to model systems and processes. In this sense, for example, an organization chart is not just a chart, but also a visual representation of an employee database, and shapes can serve as records in that database complete with specific fields of data, such as employee name, title, date of hire, and so on. In Visio, a custom property is the means by which you associate valuable data with a shape.

You can see whether a shape has custom properties by displaying the Custom Properties window. When you select a shape on the page, the shape’s properties are displayed, as Figure 6-1 shows. Some custom properties operate like fields that you type in; others are set up to provide a list of options. When you click in the latter type, an arrow appears, indicating that you can open a drop-down list of choices.


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