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Summary: There are many approaches to developing extensions for Microsoft Office Visio 2003 or

integrating Visio with other applications. This article summarizes the technologies for development for

Visio and points to resources for specific information and sample downloads. (5 printed pages)



Solution Development

Shape Development

Visio Drawing Control Development

Save as Web Page Development

XML Development

The Visio 2003 SDK

Additional Resources


You can extend Microsoft Office Visio 2003 in several ways, either programmatically or by integrating it

with other applications. Development in Microsoft Office Visio 2003 Standard Edition or Microsoft Office

Visio 2003 Professional Edition can take the following forms:

Solution development

Shape development

Visio Drawing Control development

Save as Web Page development

XML development

This article summarizes these areas of development and provides links to documentation and sample code

to get you started developing with Visio.

Solution Development

A Visio solution typically combines Visio shapes and programs that model the real world and solve specific

drawing problems. Programs can help create a drawing, analyze a drawing, transfer information between

the drawing and an external data source, or recognize events as they occur in the application.

You can use the following technologies individually or in combination to create Visio solutions:

Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)

The built-in VBA macro recorder and

Integrated Development Environment (IDE), called the Visual Basic Editor, enable you to create simple macros to automate repetitive tasks. You can also develop simple or complex extensions that integrate

Visio with other applications such as Microsoft Office Word 2003 and Microsoft Office Excel 2003 in the Microsoft Office System, and the hundreds of other applications that include VBA.

VBA Help, in the form of the Microsoft Office Visio 2003 Automation Reference, is built into Visio

Standard and Visio Professional; it documents and explains how to use the properties, methods,

events, and objects in the Visio object model. The Automation Reference is also available as part of

the Microsoft Office Visio 2003 SDK.

COM add-ins and Visio add-ons

A Component Object Model (COM) add-in provides new

functionality to Visio, such as a custom dialog box that is accessed from a new menu item and adds new features. A Visio add-on is a user-written program that extends Visio functionality. An add-on can be one of two file types and can be implemented in one of two ways—in a Visio library file (a .vsl file), which is a form of dynamic-link library that is Visio-specific, or in a standalone executable program (an .exe file).

The Microsoft Office Visio 2003 SDK includes two wizards that you can use to create add-ons and add-

ins: the Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 Visio Add-in Wizard, which creates a shell add-on or add-in

project in Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003, in Microsoft Visual Basic .NET, in Microsoft Visual C#, or

in Microsoft Visual C++; and the Microsoft Visual Studio 6.0 C++ Visio Add-on or Add-in Wizard, which

creates a shell add-on or add-in project in Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0.

In addition, the Visio 2003 SDK includes Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 project templates for creating an

executable program that runs as an add-on in Visio and a COM add-in to run in Visio. Projects based

on these templates contain basic Visio support, help speed the development process, and show

suggested practices for creating Visio add-ons and add-ins in Visual Basic.

For more information about creating add-ons and COM add-ins in Visio, see About Microsoft Office

Visio Add-ons and COM Add-ins in the Visio 2003 SDK.

Managed code

You can use the Primary Interop Assembly (PIA) that is installed with Visio

2003 to integrate the COM-based Visio object model with managed-code assemblies and applications that are developed with Visual Basic .NET, C#, and other languages that use the Microsoft .NET Framework.

Normally, you install the Visio 2003 PIA when you install Visio on your computer. To determine

whether it is installed, you can open the global assembly cache as follows: On the Windows Start

menu, click Run, and then type assembly in the drop-down list box, and then click OK. This action

opens the assembly window, in which you should see Microsoft.Office.Interop.Visio listed, along

with the other PIAs for the Microsoft Office 2003 applications that are installed on your computer.

If you don't see the Visio PIA in the global assembly cache, see How to: Install Office Primary Interop

Assemblies. For more information on using the .NET Framework to extend Microsoft Office

applications, see Managed Code and Office Programming with Visual Studio .NET.

The Visio 2003 SDK includes a Managed Code Tutorial. The tutorial consists of four lessons that walk

you through creating a Visio COM add-in. Each lesson is a COM add-in sample application written in

Visual Basic .NET. The COM add-in automatically generates a flowchart from end-user data collected

by a custom Visio wizard. Each lesson takes the sample application one step forward.

Integrating Visio with other applications

By integrating Visio with other Office applications,

you can create rich solutions. For example, to learn how you can integrate Visio with Microsoft

SharePoint Products and Technologies, see Integrating Microsoft Office Visio 2003 with Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies.

Shape Development

Everything in Microsoft Office Visio 2003—every document, page, style, shape, group, shape or object

within a group, master, object from another program, guide, and guide point—has a ShapeSheet

spreadsheet where information about that object is stored. This spreadsheet contains information such as

height, width, angle, color, and other attributes that determine the shape's appearance and behavior.

Shape developers need precise control over the appearance and behavior of the shapes they create. As a

shape developer, you can change a shape's default behavior and enhance what it can do by editing its

ShapeSheet, which you can access programmatically or in a ShapeSheet window in the Visio user

interface (UI).

For more information about shape development, see the ShapeSheet Reference, which is built into Visio

and which is also available as part of the Visio 2003 SDK.

The SDK also includes ShapeStudio, which is a development and productivity tool for people who design

and develop Visio shapes. ShapeStudio provides a custom work environment in Visio that facilitates

project management, specification and design, development, and verification of SmartShapes. All the data

associated with ShapeStudio projects is stored independently in a database—not in the Visio document—

making shape maintenance and version control much easier.

For more information about ShapeStudio, see the ShapeStudio documentation in the Visio 2003 SDK


Visio Drawing Control Development

The Microsoft Office Visio Drawing Control 2003 is a Microsoft ActiveX control that provides full access to

the Visio object model (API) and user interface so that you can integrate the Visio drawing surface and UI

into your applications, customize its appearance, and automate Visio in your applications. The Visio

Drawing Control is provided with both Microsoft Office Visio Standard 2003 and Microsoft Office Visio

Professional 2003 and is installed when you install Visio.

For more information about the Visio Drawing Control, see the Automation Reference in the Visio SDK.

Further information is available in the following articles on MSDN:

Programming with the Microsoft Office Visio ActiveX Control

Host an Interactive Visio Drawing Surface in .NET Custom Clients

For managed-code development, the Visio Drawing Control has its own PIA,


Save as Web Page Development

The Visio Save as Web Page feature provides users with a simple way of publishing Visio documents on

the Web. The Save as Web Page API gives you programmatic access to this feature, enabling you to save

a Visio drawing as a Web page without exposing the user to the Save as Web Page dialog boxes in the

user interface. For more information, see the Help topics in the Save as Web Page Reference in the Visio


For managed-code development, the Visio Save as Web Page API has its own PIA,


XML Development

XML (Extensible Markup Language) is the universal format for structured documents and data on the Web.

A DataDiagrammingXML (formerly XML for Visio) file is an XML document that contains all the components

of a Microsoft Office Visio binary file. Much as you can access a Visio document by using Automation or

from the ShapeSheet window, you can use XML and supporting tools to access data in a

DataDiagrammingXML file.

For more information about developing in Visio with XML, see the XML Developer Center on MSDN. You

can also download the entire Office XML Reference Schemas file and related documentation from

Microsoft, including the DataDiagrammingXML schema.

The Visio 2003 SDK

The entire Visio 2003 SDK is available as a download on Microsoft. The full download includes the



Customization and extensibility tools to increase your productivity and reduce

development time. These tools include the Persistent Events, Print ShapeSheet, Solution Publishing, and Event Monitor tools, as well as ShapeStudio, a complete user interface for developing Visio shapes.

The SDK also includes wizards to set up new Visio add-ons and Component Object Model (COM) add-

ins in Microsoft Visual C#, Microsoft Visual Basic .NET, Microsoft Visual C++, and Microsoft Visual


Sample applications

Samples that you can experiment with and use to acquaint yourself with

Visio features. These sample applications are written both to demonstrate aspects of developing on the Visio platform and to be used as a starting point for your custom applications. The samples include the Flowchart, Tree View, and Office Plan sample applications, as well as the Managed Code Tutorial.

Code Librarian

A database of reusable methods, classes, and procedures for Visio in Microsoft

Visual C#, Microsoft Visual Basic .NET, and Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0.

You can view and copy all of the code samples provided in the Microsoft Code Librarian Viewer, which

is included with the SDK.

Library files

Type libraries for the APIs that Visio exposes as well as C++ library helper files.


The full set of Visio references and articles, including the Automation

Reference, ShapeSheet Reference, Save as Web Page Reference, and XML Reference.

Additional Resources

Development for Visio 2003 goes well beyond Visio itself. The Microsoft Office Developer Center has a

wide variety of information about development for all products in the Microsoft Office System and

integration with other products. The Visio Developer Center includes links to technical articles, updated

SDK documentation, related resources, and Visio newsgroups.

Various third-party books are available that contain valuable information about developing with Visio.

It is also important for any developer of a solution that involves Visio 2003 to understand Visio itself. The

Visio home page on Microsoft Office Online includes many resources for assistance, training, templates,

articles, case studies, downloads, and information on how to use Visio 2003.


Developing Shapes in Visio 2003

Introducing ShapeStudio

Downloading and Installing ShapeStudio

Setting Up ShapeStudio

Starting ShapeStudio

The ShapeStudio Work Environment

Key Elements and Concepts in ShapeStudio

Workflow in ShapeStudio

Using ShapeStudio Help

Additional Resources

Developing Shapes in Visio 2003

Microsoft Office Visio 2003 is a shape-based diagramming program providing a wealth of built-in shapes

that users can drag onto the drawing page to create drawings; many third-party shapes for use in Visio

are available as well. Sometimes, however, when no built-in or third-party shapes exist to solve a specific

drawing problem, a shape developer must create custom shapes that have a particular appearance or

behave in a certain way. Once created, custom shapes become reusable components that can be assigned

to Visio stencils or compiled into shape libraries. The capacity to use custom shapes is one of the features

that make Visio such a powerful diagramming program.

Developing a shape involves creating the geometry of the shape and specifying and implementing its

behavior. By choosing the correct combination of geometry and behavior, a shape developer can create

shapes that model the objects in the real world that they represent.

Shape geometry refers to a shape's appearance, and consists of the lines, angles, and formatting of a

shape, and whether a shape is rotated. It also includes the way a shape is structured—whether, for

example, it is a simple shape or a complex shape (such as the bolt in Figure 1) that groups several simple

shapes together. You create shape geometry by drawing a shape, using the Visio drawing tools on the

drawing page. You can also create or extend shape geometry by writing formulas in the Visio ShapeSheet


Developing Shapes in Visio 2003 Microsoft Office Visio 2003 is a shape-based diagramming program providing a

Figure 1. A shape that has complex geometry

Shape behavior refers to the way a shape interacts with other shapes and the drawing page, and the way

users can interact with the shape. For example, shape behavior determines what a shape does when a

user drags the shape onto the drawing page, double-clicks the shape, or clicks a command on the shape's

shortcut (right-click) menu. As shown in Figure 2, a shape developer can create a behavior that lets users

change a shape from a circle to a square by clicking a shortcut-menu command.

Figure 2. Changing a shape by clicking a shortcut-menu command (Click picture to view larger image)

Figure 2. Changing a shape by clicking a shortcut-menu command (Click picture to view larger


The concept of shape behavior also includes custom properties assigned to a shape and data associated

with the shape.

Shape behavior is usually implemented by means of formulas entered in cells in the ShapeSheet

spreadsheet. (Behavior also can be implemented programmatically by using Automation.)

Of course, you can create shapes right in Visio without any additional tools, and shape developers have

been doing just that since the earliest versions of Visio. Shape geometry, in fact, consists of formulas in

the Visio ShapeSheet, and must be created either directly, by writing those formulas, or indirectly, by

drawing on the drawing page.

However, because implementing shape behavior has always required knowledge of how to write

ShapeSheet formulas, it has been one of the most difficult aspects of shape development.

Related shapes that should have consistent behavior sometimes behave differently from one another,

because their behaviors have not been implemented in a systematic fashion. And testing of shapes is

often done haphazardly, without the benefit of automation or scripts to improve efficiency.

For all these reasons, it would be useful to have a tool that standardizes shape development and makes it

easier to specify, implement, and test shape behavior and store shape information for future reference.

ShapeStudio, which is included in the Visio 2003 SDK, is just such a tool.

Introducing ShapeStudio

ShapeStudio is a development and productivity tool for people who design and develop Microsoft Office

Visio shapes. ShapeStudio provides a custom work environment that integrates with Visio to make it

easier to specify, create, build, test, and maintain Visio smart shapes and stencils.

Why Use ShapeStudio?

Some of the reasons for using ShapeStudio to develop shapes are as follows:

Although developing a simple shape is easy, development of complex shapes or shapes with complex behavior is difficult and requires specialized knowledge. While knowledge of the ShapeSheet is important, even in ShapeStudio, you can apply numerous behaviors to the masters you create without ever opening the ShapeSheet window.

The behaviors built into ShapeStudio are implemented by using the best practices of Visio shape development, so you can also study the ShapeSheet of masters to which you have applied behaviors in ShapeStudio to learn these best practices.

ShapeStudio provides consistency in newly developed shapes. You could implement the same behavior in a variety of ways in the ShapeSheet (for example, by using different formulas) or in different locations (sections or cells) within the ShapeSheet. With ShapeStudio, behaviors are applied the same way every time.

ShapeStudio stores master and stencil specifications and all data associated with shapes and projects you create independently in a database, not in a Visio document, making it easier for teams of designers, developers, and testers to work cooperatively, or for different aspects of shape creation to be handled by different teams or companies.

Masters and stencils must be checked out before they can be edited, which provides tighter control over shape versioning.

ShapeStudio provides extensive testing tools for ensuring that behaviors have been implemented as specified.

When to Use ShapeStudio

ShapeStudio is a powerful tool and makes shape development easier and more dependable. However,

sometimes it makes more sense to create shapes directly in Visio, without making use of ShapeStudio. For

example, if you are creating a one-of-a-kind shape that you know you won't need to use again, there is no

reason to use ShapeStudio.

Also, remember that ShapeStudio doesn't make it any easier to create shape geometry—even in

ShapeStudio, you must still create shape geometry by using standard Visio tools on the drawing page.

Use ShapeStudio when you want to do any of the following:

Create shapes that have complex attributes and behaviors, such as multi-state shapes.

Create shapes that are part of a hierarchy of similar shapes or sets of shapes that have minor variations.

Create libraries of shapes and maintain them over time, including making changes to numerous shapes at the same time.

Be able to test shapes you have developed to ensure they implement specified behaviors correctly.

Create shapes as part of a shape-development team that divides labor amongst shape designers, developers, and testers, or outsource parts of the shape development process to other organizations.

Store shape information independently rather than in the Visio documents in which the shapes are used.

Downloading and Installing ShapeStudio

ShapeStudio is included as part of the downloadable version of the Visio 2003 Software Development Kit


To install ShapeStudio, download the executable file vissdk.exe and run it. (You must already have Visio

2003 installed on your computer before you install the SDK. In addition, you must have access to either

Microsoft SQL Server or MSDE—see the next section for details.)

Setting Up ShapeStudio

Before you can use ShapeStudio, a database administrator must create the ShapeStudio database that will

contain ShapeStudio projects. The ShapeStudio database can be either a SQL Server database located on

a server or an MSDE (Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine) database on a user's local computer.

ShapeStudio provides the ShapeStudio Database Administration tool to assist database administrators in

this task.

The ShapeStudio Database Administration tool creates an MSDE database running on the user's computer.


MSDE 2000 Release A is available as a free download.

To help you set up a SQL Server database, the Visio 2003 SDK also includes a SQL script file named

SStudio.sql, which a database administrator must run. The SQL Server script file is included so that

database administrators may examine it and modify it for their own purposes. However, the only

modifications allowed in the script are those that create a global ShapeStudio project that has units and

version different from the default. (See the comments at the end of the SQL script.)

The ShapeStudio Database Administration tool does not actually run that script file, but rather runs a copy

of the script file (containing the same SQL statements) that is linked to the executable for the tool,

thereby ensuring that a valid database is always created, even if the script was changed or deleted.

The SQL Server script file does the following:

Creates a ShapeStudio database.

Creates tables.

Creates and executes stored procedures.

Adds the standard Visio ShapeStudio behaviors.

Creates a single global project. One and only one global project can be in each database.

Sets the default Visio version and the default measurement unit for the global project.


As provided, the script sets up the database so that stencils created in projects in the database

are designed to be used in Visio 2003 and use US units. To modify these values, comment out the line at the bottom of the script file that specifies this combination of version and units and remove the comment markers from the line that specifies the combination of version and units you want.

Creates an open database connectivity (ODBC) data source name (DSN) connection for the database. This connection becomes the default ShapeStudio DSN connection if one does not already exist.

The ShapeStudio Database Administration tool (Figure 3) has the filename SSadmin.exe, and if you install

the SDK to the default location, the tool is installed in the following folder: C:\Program Files\Microsoft


• Creates an open database connectivity (ODBC) data source name (DSN) connection for the database. This

Figure 3. The ShapeStudio Database Administration tool window (Click picture to view larger


Starting ShapeStudio

ShapeStudio is a Visio add-on (VSL). To use ShapeStudio, you must have Visio 2003 installed and


For Microsoft Windows 2000 operating systems only, ShapeStudio requires Microsoft Data Access

Components (MDAC) 2.6.

To start ShapeStudio

  • 1. Start Visio 2003.

  • 2. On the Tools menu, click ShapeStudio.

  • 3. In the ShapeStudio dialog box, select the data source that you want to connect to and the project you want to work in.

The ShapeStudio Work Environment

Because ShapeStudio is a Visio add-on, it runs within the Visio window (Figure 4), but it provides its own

distinctive workspace.

Figure 4. The ShapeStudio work environment (Click picture to view larger image) The ShapeStudio workspace includes

Figure 4. The ShapeStudio work environment (Click picture to view larger image)

The ShapeStudio workspace includes four windows that are unique to ShapeStudio.

Project Explorer window

The Project Explorer window contains a tree view of your project, showing the hierarchical

relationships between all the objects in the project. The window has two different views: base masters

and masters are displayed in the Masters view (Figure 5); stencil specifications are displayed with

their assigned masters in the Stencils view. You can right-click any object in the tree to access

commands that are relevant to the context, such as the Check Out command, which checks out

masters so that you can work on them.

Figure 5. Masters view in the Project Explorer window • Specification window The Specification window (Figure

Figure 5. Masters view in the Project Explorer window

Specification window

The Specification window (Figure 6) displays the list of behaviors that you assign to base master,

master, and stencil specifications. You can use this window to specify the behaviors that you want to

include in an object's specification.

Click Modify to open the Modify Specification dialog box, where you can view the list of behaviors

you can assign to the specification, assign new behaviors to the specification, or modify or remove

behaviors already assigned to the specification.

Figure 5. Masters view in the Project Explorer window • Specification window The Specification window (Figure

Figure 6. The Master specification window

Validation window

All validation and error information appears in the Validation window (Figure 7). Use this view to

resolve validation errors.

Double-click the name of a base master, master, or stencil specification in the Validation window to

resolve validation errors. Or, you can right-click anywhere in the Validation window text area to

access the commands that are relevant to the context.

• Validation window All validation and error information appears in the Validation window (Figure 7). Use

Figure 7. The Validation window

Output window

All project log information appears in the Output window (Figures 8).

You can right-click anywhere in the Output window text area to open the log file or access the other

commands that are relevant to the context.

• Validation window All validation and error information appears in the Validation window (Figure 7). Use

Figure 8. The Output window

In addition, the workspace includes three windows that are common to all Visio drawings: the document

stencil, the document page, and the master-editing window.

Document stencil

When you check out a base master or master to edit its behavior specification or shape geometry, it

appears in the document stencil (Figure 9). When you double-click a master in the document stencil,

Visio opens an editing window where you can edit the shape geometry of the master. You can drag a

master from the document stencil to the document page to experiment with its instance. You can also

open read-only copies of base masters or masters in the document stencil and drag them to the page

for the same purpose.

When you check out a base master or master to edit its behavior specification or shape

Figure 9. Checked-out and read-only masters in the document stencil

When you open a base master or master as read-only, its specification also is in read-only mode. The

text "[read-only]" is prepended to the name of a master when it is placed on the document stencil to

help you distinguish it from masters that are checked out.

Drawing page

The drawing page window in ShapeStudio is identical to the Visio drawing page window. On the

drawing page, you can experiment with instances of the masters you create.

Master-editing window

When you double-click a master in the document stencil, Visio opens the master-editing window,

where you can create or edit the shape geometry of the master. You must create master-shape

geometry before you can apply any behaviors to a master.

Key Elements and Concepts in ShapeStudio

ShapeStudio consists of various elements and concepts, some familiar from Visio or from other

applications and tools, such as projects and stencils; and others unique to ShapeStudio, such as behaviors

and sets.


Projects in ShapeStudio provide a method for organizing and managing your shape development work.

You can organize your projects in the way that best suits your needs. For example, a project could contain

the shape information for a particular solution area or content domain, such as network equipment. Each

project you create is stored in the database you specified for ShapeStudio. Projects have properties, which

you can assign in the Project Properties dialog box (ShapeStudio menu.). For more information about

projects, see the topic "About Workflow and Roles in ShapeStudio" in ShapeStudio Help.

Base Master and Master Specifications

A base master specification or master specification is a formal definition that includes the intended

behaviors and shape-specific details for base masters and masters, respectively. When you create a

project, it is a good idea to create base masters as templates for groups of masters that should share

similar behaviors.

ShapeStudio masters correspond to the actual master shapes that are available on the stencil in Visio

after you build a stencil file from the completed stencil specification. Base masters, however, are simply

classification mechanisms that make it easier for you to categorize masters and create groups of similarly

specified masters. Base masters never appear outside of ShapeStudio.

In addition to masters associated with base masters, ShapeStudio provides for baseless masters, which

are masters not associated with any base master. You might create a baseless master, for example, if you

want to include a master that does not inherit undesired behaviors from a base master. For more

information about base master and master specifications, see the topic "About Master and Base Master

Specifications" in ShapeStudio Help.

Stencil Specifications

A stencil specification is a virtual assembly of existing masters. It includes the name and properties of the

stencil you want to create, a list of the masters you want to assign to the stencil, and any notes you want

to make about the stencil.

You can assign to the stencil specification any of the masters (but not the base masters) that you have

created in a project. Although only one version of any master exists in ShapeStudio, a master can belong

to more than one stencil.

When you generate a stencil file, the stencil specification is used to build the .vss or .vsx file that Visio

recognizes as a stencil file and that contains the actual masters. For more information about stencil

specifications, see the topic "About Stencil Specifications" in ShapeStudio Help.


ShapeStudio introduces the concept of assigning behaviors to shapes as a way of simplifying the process

of making smart shapes. A behavior is an abstract definition of a characteristic you want a shape to

have—for example, that the shape has a certain ScreenTip associated with it. Rather than having to figure

out and program various complexities of ShapeSheet formulas, cell references, or property settings for

frequently needed shape functionality, you can assign behaviors to a master that describe how shapes

that are instances of that master should behave. ShapeStudio then creates that behavior, using a best-

practice implementation provided by Visio shape developers.

ShapeStudio makes it easier to implement the following common master attributes and behaviors, among


Callout lines

Connection points

Shortcut menus

Dynamic glue (shape connections that adjust automatically as shapes are moved)

Control handles

Drag-and-drop response

Layer membership

Sizing and resizing

Shape structure


Smart tags


For more information about behaviors, and for a detailed list of behaviors in ShapeStudio, see the topic

"About Behaviors in ShapeStudio" in ShapeStudio Help.


Sets are custom groupings of properties that can be used by behaviors. You can define sets of shortcut

menu and smart tag menu commands (actions), custom properties, layer memberships, and ShapeSheet

user-defined cells, and then assign them to your shapes in various combinations, making the shapes you

create more modular. For more information about sets, see the topic "About Sets in ShapeStudio" in

ShapeStudio Help.

Testing and Validation

In ShapeStudio, you can validate base masters and masters to verify that the objects developed in a

project still conform to the specification settings originally intended by the project manager or shape

designer. When you validate an object's current settings with its specification, any deviations from the

specification are flagged as errors. You can then ignore the errors, in which case they will continue to be

flagged as errors, or you can reapply the specification values to the object and thereby resolve the errors.

ShapeStudio provides two test tools that can help determine whether masters meet specifications and

help find bugs that might cause masters to fail validation.

Standard Shape Tests tool

This tool provides 28 pre-defined tests that check various settings

for masters. You can run all of these tests (the default) or any combination of them. Generally, these

tests check whether ShapeSheet cells or Automation properties are set properly, according to the specifications in the master. Standard tests are read-only: they check settings but do not change them. You can use the Find and Replace Cells and Set Cells tools to change properties in multiple masters.

Custom Shape Tests tool

This tool lets you create custom test scripts that can run one or

more custom tests that you design. You can run the script either on selected master specifications in Masters view of the Project Explorer window, or on selected stencil specifications in Stencils view. When you test stencils, you test all of the masters assigned to those stencils. You can save the test scripts you create (as XML files) so that you can run them again and modify them if necessary.

For a detailed list of all the tests available in ShapeStudio, see the topic "About Tools in ShapeStudio" in

ShapeStudio Help.


ShapeStudio provides a variety of reports, including project reports, stencil reports, master reports, and

check-out reports. For more information about reports, see the topic "About Reports in ShapeStudio" in

ShapeStudio Help.

Reference Drawings

You can attach reference drawings to a ShapeStudio project to provide developers a model from which to

work when implementing shapes. For example, reference drawings can contain pictures of the shape,

bitmaps of the shape's icon, or other instructional notes and requirements that can't be easily specified as

behaviors. To learn how to attach a reference drawing to your project, see the topic "Add a Reference

Drawing to a Project" in ShapeStudio Help.


Styles, a feature found in Visio, make it easier to apply the same formatting to multiple shapes.

ShapeStudio does not provide a user interface specifically for styles, but rather it tracks styles in your

document, stores them in the database, and manages them as part of the checking out and checking in of


Workflow in ShapeStudio

Workflow in ShapeStudio typically consists of the following phases:


Setup and project management

  • 2. Specification and design

  • 3. Development

  • 4. Validation and testing

Figure 10 shows the relationship between these phases and project roles and activities.

1. Setup and project management 2. Specification and design 3. Development 4. Validation and testing Figure

Figure 10. A graphical representation of ShapeStudio workflow, roles, and activities (Click

picture to view larger image)

The following steps suggest the general workflow to use in ShapeStudio, after the database administrator

has set up the global project.

  • 1. Open Visio, and then open ShapeStudio.

  • 2. Create a project. This step includes naming the project and specifying the database for the project. Note

If the database administrator has created global base masters and masters in the global

project, your project inherits them. If you intend to use global masters or global base masters in your project, ensure that the project unit and Visio version settings in your project match the global project unit and Visio version settings.

  • 3. Create base masters to be used as "templates" for the masters you want to create. Then assign behaviors to the base masters that you want their associated masters to inherit.


Add shape geometry for each master in its master drawing window.

  • 6. Validate the current behaviors of masters against specified behaviors and resolve errors.

  • 7. Create stencil specifications and assign masters to various stencils.

For more information about workflow in ShapeStudio, see the topic "About Workflow and Roles in

ShapeStudio" in ShapeStudio Help.

Using ShapeStudio Help

ShapeStudio has a built-in Help system that explains many of the subjects addressed in this article in

more detail and provides directions to help you perform many common procedures. To access

ShapeStudio Help, you must be running Visio and have a ShapeStudio project open. Then click Help on

the ShapeStudio menu to open the Microsoft Office Visio 2003 Help window.