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Microsoft Visio floor plan & Visio shapes

Floor plans with Microsoft® Visio® Version 2002

Author: Resources Online
Level: Beg/Int
First published: 09/12/2001

Visio floor plan tutorial, laying out office space

Visio floor plan tutorial

After completing this Visio tutorial, you will be able to:

  • Create a scaled Visio floor plan using MS Visio.
  • Use door, window, and furniture shapes in a scaled floor plan.
  • Organize floor plan shapes with layers.
  • Import pictures into an existing floorplan.

Think of something big- a house, an office building, or your backyard. In Microsoft Visio, you can diagram a large object on a small page by using a drawing scale, which represents the relationship between an object's size in the real world and its size on the page. Like a map that depicts a 10- mile stretch of highway with a 1-inch line, a scaled drawing represents objects at a ratio or a fraction of their size. A drawing scale isn't for large objects only- you can also draw very small objects, such as a watch mechanism or printed circuit, at a larger scale as well. When you start a Visio floor plan with a scaled template, the drawing scale is set up for you, and the Visio shapes conform to that scale automatically. All you have to do is drag and drop them.

In this chapter, you create a Visio Floor Plan of a furnished office for the head manager of The Office Floor Company, who gives frequent lectures in the adjoining conference space. You work with the Visio Floor Plan template to create a replica of the building shell- its walls, doors, and windows- and then add furniture shapes. This chapter introduces a new concept, layers, which provide a method of organizing shapes. As a finishing touch, you import a graphic file that contains The Office Floor Company logo.


Creating a Visio floor plan

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The Visio Floor Plan template makes it easy to create an accurate floor plan with architectural details, such as pilasters (rectangular wall projections like columns) and door swing (the space needed to open or close a door). If your goal is simply to experiment with different furniture arrangements in a room, you might not need the level of detail that Visio provides. However, because Visio is designed to provide architectural and engineering precision, your scaled diagrams are as accurate as your measurements.

All Visio templates have a pre-set drawing scale, but for most business diagrams, such as flowcharts or organization charts, that scale is 1:1- that is, no scale. In the Visio Floor Plan template, the drawing scale is ½ inch to 1 foot, which means that a shape that appears ½ inch high on the drawing page represents an object that is 1 foot tall. Visio sets up the floorplan page using the template's scale and units of measure, which are typically inches (although Visio includes metric templates as well). If you prefer to measure Visio shapes in yards or meters or some other measurement unit, you can by using the Page Setup command on the File menu, which is also how you set the drawing scale. In addition, the Visio Floor Plan template also adds a new menu: the Plan menu, which includes commands specifically for working in this type of drawing.

When you start a floor plan with a scaled template, the floorplan page reflects the measurement units of that scale much as a map reflects the scale shown in its legend. The units of measure for the drawing scale appear on the rulers and the grid and are displayed automatically in the dimension line shapes that you can add to walls. Part of what you have to do when working in a Visio floor plan or any scaled drawing is grow accustomed to measuring distance in real-world units. For example, if your drawing scale is ½ inch to 1 foot on letter-sized paper (11 by 8½ inches), the rulers show that the page is 22 feet long and 17 feet high. That's because the rulers display the real- world measurements so that you position and size shapes in terms of the physical space or object you"re designing. When you print the page, however, Visio ensures that it fits on regular letter-sized paper.

After you set up the drawing scale you want, you start by adding shapes that represent the structure of your building. One way to do this is to drag wall shapes onto the page and rotate them into position. Where two walls meet, Visio joins their corners automatically for a smooth look. All the other structural shapes, such as doors and windows, are designed to snap to the wall shapes in a building layout. However, when you"re planning a new space, you can instead use the Space shape, which represents a 10-foot-by- 10-foot area. You can lay out a patchwork of space shapes, and then combine them into a single area by using the Union command, which merges shapes to create a new shape. Then you can convert the space into walls. Although this technique sounds like it takes several steps, most people find it easier to lay out rooms and create walls in this fashion rather than drag out individual wall shapes.

When you need to measure areas precisely, Visio offers several helpful shortcuts. Some Visio shapes display their size - for example, the Space shape displays 100 sq. ft. The status bar below the floorplan page reflects the real- world units of measure, so you can see at a glance how large shapes really are and exactly where a wall goes. Guide lines can help you align shapes to an exact point as well. Shapes connect to guides to ensure perfect alignment, and you can even drag a guide to move all the shapes connected to it- a very efficient technique. Visio's built-in connection behavior also helps you attach dimension lines to the walls they measure. As you move or resize walls, the dimension lines stay connected and update measurements as they change.

In this exercise, you start a new Visio floor plan with the Visio Floor Plan template and use the Page Setup command to customize the drawing scale. You rough out the area you want to show with Space shapes, which you then combine into a single shape and convert to walls- a faster way of creating the outline of a building than simply dragging wall shapes onto the page.

  • Start Visio.
  • On the File menu, point to New, point to Building Plan, and then click Visio Floor Plan.

Visio starts a blank floorplan with the Visio Floor Plan template, which opens the following five stencils: Walls, Doors and Windows, Office Furniture, Office Equipment, Office Accessories, and Cubicles. The Plan menu is added to the menu bar.

  • On the File menu, click Page Setup to open the Page Setup dialog box.
  • Click the Drawing Scale tab.
  • Under the Pre-defined scale option, click the down arrow on the box that displays ½" = 1"0", scroll up, and then click ¼" = 1"0".

Visio changes the drawing scale and recalculates the dimensions displayed in the Page size (in measurement units) boxes.

  • Click OK.

The rulers display the new drawing scale and show that the floorplan page represents an area 44 feet wide and 34 feet tall.

  • From the Walls, Doors and Windows stencil, drag a Space shape onto the page so that its top and left edges are about 10 feet from the page edges as measured by the rulers.

VISIO FLOOR PLAN TIP: As you drag a shape, Visio displays dotted lines on the rulers and measurements in the status bar, which show you the shape's exact position on the page.

  • Drag a second Space shape onto the page so that its upper left corner overlaps the bottom right corner of the first Space shape.

The Space shape remains selected. Your screen should look similar to the figure on the following page.

  • On the selected Space shape, drag the right middle selection handle to make the shape 20 feet wide, as shown by the Width field in the status bar at the bottom of the floorplan page window.

Visio updates the measurement displayed on the shape to 200 sq. ft.

  • On the same shape, drag the bottom middle selection handle to make the shape 15 feet high.

Visio updates the measurement displayed on the shape to 300 sq. ft.

  • Hold down Shift as you click the other Space shape so that both shapes are selected.
  • On the Shape menu, click Operations, and then click Union.

Visio combines the two shapes into one shape. The shapes should look similar to the following.

  • On the Plan menu, click Convert To Walls to display the Convert To Walls dialog box.

VISIO FLOOR PLAN TIP: Another way to create walls in Visio is to use the Line or Rectangle tool to draw rough approximations of your walls, and then use the Convert To Walls command to convert them into wall shapes.

  • Select the Add dimensions check box, and then click OK.

Visio displays a status bar as it converts the perimeter of the shape to wall shapes and adds dimension line shapes to each wall.

  • Right-click the top 10-foot wall, and click Add a Guide on the shortcut menu that appears.

Visio adds a guide to the wall shape's top edge and connects the adjoining walls to the guide so that you can move them together. The guide is selected. Your screen should look similar to the figure on the following page; however, your dimensions might not match exactly.

  • Point to the guide until a two-headed arrow appears, and then drag the guide up about 3 feet to the 27-foot mark.
Visio floor plan, Visio shapes

Visio moves the guide and all three walls that are connected to it to the new position and updates the dimension lines. The shapes should look similar as on the figure.

  • Press Esc to deselect the guide.
  • On the Standard toolbar, click the Save button.

The Save As dialog box appears.

  • On the Places bar, click My Documents.
  • In the File name box, type New Office.
  • Click Save.

The Properties dialog box appears.

  • Click OK.

Visio saves the floor plan.

  • On the File menu, click Close.

The floor plan closes.

VISIO FLOOR PLAN TIP: Although Visio floor plans are a common type of scaled drawing, you can define a scale for any drawing type in Visio. For example, you can create maps, parts drawings, and physical network diagrams to scale by using the Page Setup command on the File menu to define a drawing scale.


Adding Doors, Windows and Furniture

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You don't have to start with a Visio template to create a scaled floor plan, but an advantage of doing so is that the template opens stencils of shapes designed to work in the drawing scale. The Visio Floor Plan template includes many specialized Visio shapes and tools for working in a floorplan scale. Wall shapes join together to form smooth corners. Door and window shapes drop into place on top of walls, rotating if necessary to match the wall's orientation.

One way in which Visio Floor Plan shapes are unusual is that they"re designed to match standard architectural sizes. Because of this, some shapes are locked to prevent you from resizing them with the mouse. To change their size, you must edit the shape's built-in property that controls its dimensions. For example, a Door shape has a Door Width property that you can set to 24, 28, 30, 36, 48, 60, or 72 inches- standard door widths. Visio resizes the shape based on your selection. You can change a shape's properties from its shortcut menu, which might contain other specialized commands for editing the shape. For example, you can't rotate or flip a door to change its orientation. Instead, you can use the Reverse In/Out Opening command or Reverse Left/Right Opening command, and Visio does it for you.

VISIO FLOOR PLAN TIP: Right-click a Visio floor plan shape to see whether its shortcut menu contains special commands for editing the shape.

In this exercise, you add doors, windows, and furniture to an office of The Office Floor Company. You start by opening a sample floor plan, OfficeWalls. You work with shape properties and shortcut menu commands to edit door and window shapes. Finally, you add furniture to the rooms.

  • On the Standard toolbar, click the Open button to display the Open dialog box.
  • Navigate to the SBS\Visio\OfficeLayout folder on your hard disk, and then double-click OfficeWalls.

Visio opens a diagram showing the outline of two adjoining rooms in a scaled Visio floor plan and displays the five Visio floor plan stencils.

  • From the Walls, Doors and Windows stencil, drag the Door shape to the middle of the top 10-foot wall.

When you release the mouse, Visio connects the door to the wall, displaying red selection handles to show that the shapes are connected, and padlock handles to show that the door is locked to prevent resizing.

Visio floor plan, Visio door shape
  • On the Standard toolbar, click the Zoom down arrow, and then click 100%.

Visio magnifies the view. The door and wall should look something like on the figure.

  • Right-click the door to display its shortcut menu, and then click Properties.

The Custom Properties dialog box appears and lists properties for the door.

  • In the Door Width box, click the down arrow to display a list of dimensions, and then click 36 in.
  • Click OK.

Visio widens the door and updates its dimensions to 3"-0".

  • Right-click the door to display its shortcut menu, and then click Reverse In/Out Opening.

Visio flips the door opening so that it swings into the office.

  • From the Walls, Doors and Windows stencil, drag the Window shape to the vertical wall to the right of the door.

Visio flips the window to match the wall's orientation and then connects the window to the wall shape, displaying red selection handles and padlock handles.

  • Drag the window's lower selection handle until the shape is approximately 3 feet wide.
  • From the Walls, Doors and Windows stencil, drag another Window shape onto the 17-foot wall.

Visio connects the window to the wall.

  • Hold down Shift and Ctrl while you drag with the right mouse button to pan the floor plan to the left.

The right half of the office space becomes visible.

  • Drag a selection handle on the window you just added to make the shape about 3 feet wide.

Visio updates the window's dimensions.

  • Hold down Ctrl while you drag the window along the wall to the right to duplicate the shape.
Visio floor plan, window and walls connected

Visio connects the copied window to the wall. Your floor plan page should look similar as on the figure.

 
Visio floor plan, cubicle shapes added
  • Pan the floor plan to the right to display the office with the door.
  • Click the Cubicles stencil to display it on top.
  • From the Cubicles stencil, drag the L workstation shape into the corner of the office opposite the door.

The shapes should look similar as on the figure.

 
  • Hold down Shift and Ctrl while you right-click to zoom out.

Visio zooms out to show more of the floorplan page.

Visio floor plan, furniture shapes added
  • Click the Office Furniture stencil to bring it to the top.
  • From the Office Furniture stencil, drag the Multi-chair racetrack shape into the large empty room.

Visio adds the shape, oriented vertically, to the room. The shape is selected.

  • On the Shape menu, point to Rotate or Flip, and then click Rotate Left.

The Multi-chair racetrack shape rotates 90 degrees to the left.

VISIO FLOOR PLAN TIP: To quickly rotate a shape 90 degrees to the left, press Ctrl + L.

  • On the Standard toolbar, click the Save button.

Visio saves your changes.

  • On the File menu, click Close.

The floor plan closes.


Organizing Visio shapes with layers

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For some drawing types, shapes are pre-assigned to layers, categories that help you organize related shapes. Visio can selectively show, hide, lock, print, snap, glue, and color shapes based on their layer assignment, which gives you a great deal of flexibility when editing shapes. For example, it's common to lock the structural shapes like walls, doors, and windows after they"re in place so that you don't inadvertently move them while adding furniture to a Visio floor plan. Or you can temporarily hide all the annotation shapes, such as dimension lines, to make it easier to see and move furniture shapes.

Layers are often used when different people revise or review a single drawing. For example, in a Visio floor plan, the building shell can be locked and then handed off to an electrician, who adds wiring on one layer, and then to a plumber, who adds pipes on another layer. That way, each person can add to the drawing without disturbing another's work. A shape can be assigned to a single layer, to several layers, or to no layer at all. If you use the drawing tools to create a shape, that shape is not assigned to a layer. You can, however, assign a shape to an existing layer or create a new layer. Fortunately, the Visio Floor Plan shapes are already assigned to layers that are built into the template and added to your floor plan.

VISIO FLOOR PLAN TIP: If you display the Format Shape toolbar, the Layer list shows you which layers a selected shape is assigned to.

Visio includes two commands for working with layers. The Layer command on the Format menu shows you a shape's layer assignments and allows you to create and remove layers. The Layer Properties command on the View menu lets you control the appearance and behavior of the shapes assigned to layers.

In this exercise, you add determine which layers shapes are assigned to, and then you change layer properties to affect the way you can interact with shapes in the floor plan. You start by opening a sample floor plan, OfficeFurnished.

  • On the Standard toolbar, click the Open button to display the Open dialog box.
  • Navigate to the SBS\Visio\OfficeLayout folder on your hard disk, and then double-click OfficeFurnished.

Visio opens a Visio floor plan diagram and displays the five Visio floor plan stencils.

  • Select the conference table, and then on the Format menu, click Layer.

The Layer dialog box appears and highlights the layers to which the shape is assigned. In this case, the conference table (the Multi-chair racetrack shape) is assigned to two layers: Furniture and Movable Furnishings.

  • Click Cancel to close the Layer dialog box.
  • Select a wall shape, and then on the Format menu, click Layer.

The Layer dialog box appears and highlights the Building Envelope layer and the Wall layer, indicating that wall shapes are assigned to these layers.

  • Click Cancel to close the Layer dialog box.
  • From the Walls, Doors and Windows stencil, drag the Callout shape onto the page to the left of the conference room.

Visio adds a callout that points to the left. The shape is selected.

  • On the Shape menu, point to Rotate or Flip, and then click Flip Horizontal.

The callout now points to the right. The shape remains selected.

  • Type Verify table size.

Visio zooms in as you type and adds the text to the callout.

  • Press Esc.

Visio zooms back out. The shape remains selected.

  • Drag the right endpoint of the Callout shape to the conference table.
Visio floor plan, assigning Visio shape to layer

As you drag over the table, Visio highlights the shape with a red border. When you release the mouse, the endpoint turns red, indicating that the callout is connected to the table. The shapes should look similar to those in this figure.

  • On the View menu, click Layer Properties.

The Layer Properties dialog box appears.

  • In the Building Envelope row, click in the Lock column.

Visio displays a check mark for Lock, indicating that all shapes on the Building Envelope layer will be locked to prevent selection.

  • Click in the Lock column for the Door row, Wall row, and Window row.

Visio locks the shapes assigned to these layers and displays a check mark for Lock in the Door row, Wall row, and Window row.

  • In the Notations row, click in the Visible column.

Visio clears the check mark in the Visible column, indicating that all shapes on the Notations layer will be hidden.

  • Click OK.

Visio updates the Visio floor plan with the new layer properties. The Callout shape is no longer visible.

  • In the Visio floor plan diagram, click the door shape.

Nothing happens- the shape is locked, so you can't select it. The walls and windows are similarly locked.

  • On the View menu, click Layer Properties to display the Layer Properties dialog box again.
  • In the Notations row, click in the Visible column to place a check mark there.
  • In the Notations row, click in the Color column.

Visio places a check mark in the row.

  • In the Layer Color box, click the down arrow, scroll up, and then click color 9 (green).

In the Notations row, the Color check mark is highlighted in green.

  • Click OK.

Visio displays the Callout shape and text in green.

  • On the Standard toolbar, click the Save button.

Visio saves the changes to your floor plan.

  • On the File menu, click Close.

Visio closes the floor plan.

VISIO FLOOR PLAN TROUBLESHOOTING: Many of the shapes in the Visio Floor Plan template are actually groups, such as the plant shapes on the Office Accessories stencil and the multi-chair conference table shapes on the Office Furniture stencil. To add color to the individual shapes in the group, you must subselect the shapes: Click to select the group, click a shape in the group to subselect it, and then choose a formatting option. For example, you can subselect a chair in the Multi-chair racetrack shape, and then click the Fill Color button on the Formatting toolbar to apply a color to that chair.


Importing logos and other pictures

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Although Visio includes hundreds of shapes as well as several drawing tools, sometimes you simply need an image that was created in a different program. You can import a picture- that is, a graphic file- into Visio whether or not you have the application that created the original image. For example, you can import a corporate logo to add it to an existing diagram. Visio can import most of the standard graphic file formats, including popular Web formats such as GIF (Graphic Interchange Format), JPEG (Joint Photographic Expert Group), and PNG (Portable Network Graphics). So there's almost certainly a format that Visio and the graphics application have in common.

There are two ways to import pictures:

  • When you use Visio as a picture editing tool, you can use the Open command on the File menu to open the file, which creates a drawing page with a picture on it.
  • When you want to add a picture to an existing drawing file, you can use the Picture command on the Insert menu.

Most of the time, you insert pictures into existing drawings. The Picture dialog box can even help you locate the correct file, because it can display a preview (sometimes called a thumbnail) of the picture. After you insert a picture, you can edit it somewhat- you can size, position, and crop the picture, which means to cut out portions you don't want to see. You can also format picture properties to change a picture's brightness, sharpness, and other qualities that affect appearance. Visio includes a new Picture command on the Format menu that even previews your changes before you apply them. Another new option that adds visual interest to imported pictures and shapes is transparent colors. By making your picture slightly or very transparent, shapes underneath show through.

You can import files of the following formats in Visio.

File extension, file format

  • .ai - Adobe Illustrator File Format
  • .emz - Compressed Enhanced Metafile
  • .cgm - Computer Graphics Metafile
  • .cmx - Corel Clipart Format
  • .cdr - CorelDRAW! Drawing File Format
  • .eps - Encapsulated PostScript
  • .emf - Enhanced Metafile
  • .gif - Graphics Interchange Format
  • .igs - IGES Drawing File Format
  • .jpg - JPEG File Interchange Format
  • .pct - Macintosh Picture File Format
  • .drw - Micrografx Designer Version 3.1 File Format
  • .dsf - Micrografx Designer Version 6 File Format
  • .png - Portable Network Graphics
  • .ps - PostScript File
  • .tif - Tag Image File Format
  • .eps and .dib - Windows Bitmap
  • .wmf - Windows Metafile
  • .pcx - ZSoft PC Paintbrush Bitmap

VISIO FLOOR PLAN TIP: You can insert other types of files as well using different commands. With the Open command on the File menu, you can open ABC FlowCharter (.af3, .af2) and other files. With the CAD Drawing command on the Insert menu, you can add Autodesk AutoCAD (.dwg and .dxf) drawings and Bentley Microstation (.dgn) files.

In this exercise, you insert a GIF file of The Office Floor Company logo into an existing Visio floor plan diagram. You start by opening a sample floor plan, OfficeLogo. After inserting the logo, you format the picture properties just for fun to make the logo transparent.

  • On the Standard toolbar, click the Open button to display the Open dialog box.
  • Navigate to SBS\Visio\OfficeLayout on your hard disk, and then double-click OfficeLogo.

Visio opens a Visio floor plan diagram and displays the five Visio floor plan stencils.

  • On the Insert menu, point to Picture, and then click From File.

The Insert Picture dialog box appears.

  • Navigate to SBS\Visio\OfficeLayout on your hard disk, and then click TGC Logo.gif.

A preview of the picture appears to the right.

VISIO FLOOR PLAN TROUBLESHOOTING: If you don't see a preview, in the Insert Picture dialog box, click the Views down arrow on the Views button, and then click Preview.

  • Click Open.

Visio inserts the logo for The Office Floor Company in the middle of the page. The logo is selected.

  • Drag the logo graphic to the upper right corner of the floor plan page.

Your screen should look similar to the figure on the following page.

  • On the Standard toolbar, click the Zoom down arrow, and then click 100% to zoom in to see the logo.
  • Drag a corner selection handle toward the logo's center to reduce the logo to approximately half its original size.

The logo graphic remains selected.

  • On the Format menu, click Picture.

The Picture dialog box appears and displays a preview of the logo graphic.

  • Drag the Transparency slider to the right until the box indicates 50%.

The preview displays the logo graphic at 50% transparency.

VISIO FLOOR PLAN TROUBLESHOOTING: The checkerboard pattern in the transparency preview is Visio's way of showing you how transparent the color will be.

  • Click OK.

Visio makes the logo graphic transparent so that the grid shows through.

  • On the Standard toolbar, click the Save button.

Visio saves the changes to your floor plan.

  • On the File menu, click Exit.

Visio closes.

VISIO FLOOR PLAN TIP: Like pictures, Visio shapes can be transparent, too. Select a shape, and then click Fill on the Format menu. In the Fill dialog box, drag the Transparency slider to adjust the transparency of the shape's fill color.