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Visio Shapes for SIX



In 1998 when D-Tools was first introduced its target market was the residential electronics installation industry.  At that time it was mostly AV oriented and did not need a lot of product categories.  If memory serves we shipped with about a dozen categories that easily covered the product needs of our customers.


Back then we had some simple, hard coded rules for shape and category assignment.  Basically the category had to equal the Visio stencil name and the Visio shape name had to equal the subcategory/type.  For example take a product like a subwoofer.  A subwoofer is a subcategory/type of the Speakers category.  If the user dragged out the Visio shape named “subwoofer” the software would use the category/subcategory as a filter so the user was just presented with product choices of Speakers/Subwoofers instead of the entire product catalog.


If the user was dragging a product from the Product Editor or PDM (as it was called back then), then the software would use the same filter criteria and find a shape where the stencil named = Speakers and the shape name = subwoofer and drop the appropriate shape.


All good until someone spells subwoofer as sub-woofer or sub or woofer or anything that is not spelled exactly “subwoofer”.  It all worked as expected as long as your data was perfect.  In the case of the misspelled subwoofer dragging the subwoofer shape from the Visio stencil would only get you the product choices that were spelled correctly.  If you were dragging a product from the product editor with a misspelled subcategory then the software would not be able to find the shape and it would drop the default elevation shape for that category.


Expected "subwoofer" Shape:



What actually dropped was the default Elevation shape:

default elevation shape.jpg


Fast forward 15 years and we now service many more industries than residential AV and we have close to 1,000 product categories and sub-categories that we attempt to keep track of.  Although we gave users interfaces to better manage their categories and shapes, having hard coded categories and sub-categories was pretty much an untenable situation and we needed to make a change.


-Adam Stone, Head Tool



There are four main styles of Visio shapes in SIX: Line, Elevation, Plan, and Schematic. Shapes exist inside of Visio stencils (.vss files). In our Visio interface, a list of the Stencils you have downloaded display in the D-Tools SIX 2013 window on the Shapes tab:




The first time that you open a Visio Project file, you will get this prompt to download the D-Tools SIX 2013 Stencils:




If you choose [No], you will be prompted to this each time you open a Visio Project file. To check for updates to these stencils, you can choose to download them in the D-Tools SIX 2013 window:




You can also use this menu to download specific Manufacturer Stencils. When chosen, the following form will open where you can choose which ones you want to download:


download manufacturer stencils form.jpg


Any Manufacturer Stencils downloaded will display in the "Manufacturer" node of the Stencil list:



Shape Data UI


SIX shapes take advantage of the Shape Data interface within Visio so we recommend that you choose to display this. Click the View tab and then click the drop down arrow in the Task Panes section and select "Shape Data":


shape data ui.jpg


This will display on the right-side of your Visio page and will display all of the available options/settings for the shape(s) selected. You can select multiple similar shapes, e.g. all speaker shapes on a Plan page, and make changes to them all at one time via this interface. 


shape data ui example.jpg

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