Microsoft Visio 2010 : Tips for Creating Timelines

11/19/2011 5:24:46 PM

The Timeline template (File, New, Schedule, Timeline) is great for sketching out quick schedules with a medium to light amount of detail.

You start with a timeline shape, set its date span, and then choose the size of intervals to mark and label. Then you diagram the details of your plan by adding milestone and interval shapes. These shapes attach themselves automatically to the Timeline and reposition themselves automatically when you change their date values.

If you look at the stencil that opens with the template, you see a selection of 22 timeline-related shapes. In reality, though, there are only three shapes: Timelines, Milestones, and Intervals.

The reason is that you can change the style of any timeline shape by right-clicking or by changing a Shape Data field. Right-click a timeline and choose Set Timeline Type. Select any milestone and change its Milestone Type property. Similarly, interval shapes have the Set Interval Type menu item and Shape Data field.

Figure 1 shows three copies of the same timeline diagram. Pay particular attention to the look of the timeline bar and the style of the intervals and milestones. None of the shapes were deleted or replaced. They were simply altered by changing their Type properties.

Figure 1. The same timeline copied three times, but the style of timeline, interval, and milestone was changed. Shape properties allow you to easily change the look of timeline shapes without redrawing.

Being able to change the type is a big time saver. Without such a mechanism, you would have to delete the original shape, drop a different style master, and then re-enter the data and any other options you might have set.

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