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Viso Interface Diagram with supporting data

Posted on 2009-04-08
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
Hello, I'm attempting to design a somewhat complicated interface diagram using MS Visio.  I would like my diagram to display the various interfaces between applications, and have an excel spreadsheet that contains the interface details (i.e., connection settings, frequency, host name, etc...) to support the diagram.  When the user performs a mouse over of the interface in visio I would like a screen tip to pop up with the details stored in the spreadsheet for that interface.  The details may contain different fields for each interface, I would like to be able to update the spreadsheet and automatically have the screen tips populated (I may have to write some VB for this).  Further I would like to double click the interface and be taken to the excel details for that interface.  

If it makes it easier, I'm OK embedding the visio diagram in the excel workbook.
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Question by:JamesCbury
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by:Scott Helmers
ID: 24103898
What you're describing is feasible but it will take a bit of creativity and may require some VB code as you suggest. A couple of initial thoughts:
  • You don't mention what version of Visio you have but you want Visio 2007 Professional for what you have in mind. In particular, this will be much easier using the data linking features in 2007 Pro rather than the clunky database links in prior versions. Updates to the data in the spreadsheet can be pushed to the drawing manually or at a preset time interval. Start here if you're not familiar with data linking:
         http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/visio/HA100487831033.aspx
  • Tooltip text does work in Visio but Visio truncates what it will display; you'll need to experiment to see how much you can fit that's useful. From the Visio UI, use Insert/Shape ScreenTip to try it (we can get the text into the appropriate place automatically from the spreadsheet too, though that will require an extra trick or two).
  • Hyperlinking so a doubleclick opens the spreadsheet is very doable; in fact, you can create a hyperlink that opens the worksheet at a specific cell or cell range and highlights it.
  • You don't need to embed the drawing in the Excel workbook; at the moment I can't think of any advantage to doing so.
That's all I have time for at the moment, but just wanted to let you know that what you're describing can be done, probably with very little need for code. (Having said, that all of the above can be automated also, if that turns out to be desirable.)
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by:Scott Helmers
ID: 24137111
James,

Was the information above helpful? What else do you need to get started on your interface diagram?

Scott
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by:JamesCbury
ID: 24138956
Hi, sorry for the delay in my response.  The info above helped me get a good start... Unfortunatly I'm stuck with MS Vision 2003, So I have to use the older data link functions.  I may for-go the screen tips and just use hyper links to my excel sheet.
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by:Scott Helmers
ID: 24140200
Sorry about Visio 2003 :-(    It will definitely still work to link to Excel, it's just more work for you.

For the hyperlinks, if you want the link to highlight a specific cell when someone follows it, there are two steps: 1) create the named cells or cell ranges in Excel; 2) when you create the hyperlink in Visio, enter the target cell/range name in the Subaddress field in the hyperlink dialog. When someone follows your link, the named cell/range will be highlighted.

Re the tooltip: when you create the link to Excel, if you create a custom property field in the shape that is populated with data from the cell containing the text you want in the tooltip, the rest is easy. For example, if your custom property field is called XYZ then open the shapesheet and type this is the Comment cell in the Miscellaneous section
   =Prop.XYZ
The tool tip text will appear. (OK, there is one complication -- if the same shape also has a hyperlink, the tooltip for the hyperlink trumps the Comment and only the hyperlnk description appears. But there's an easy way around that also... let me know if you want the details.)

Let me know if you need anything else...
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Author Comment

by:JamesCbury
ID: 24142855
Hi Scott, the tool tip trick would be pretty helpful, right now when I scroll over the linked shape all I an see is the spreadsheet name...

-Thanks,
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by:Scott Helmers
ID: 24143904
Do you have a custom property field in the shape that now contains the text you want to appear in the tooltip as I described above? If so, open the shapesheet and put the same formula from above
   =Prop.XYZ
into the Description field of the hyperlink row. (If you're not familiar with editing shapesheets, let me know).

If you have lots of shapes for which you need to do this, I can write a 10-line macro that will make this change on all shapes...
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Scott Helmers earned 500 total points
ID: 24697219
James,

Are you all set on this question or do you need additional information?

Scott
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Author Closing Comment

by:JamesCbury
ID: 31568292
Sorry Scott, I've been away from this for a while... thanks for the help
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