Sunday 29 March 2015

Hand-drawn Process Flows: Part 3 - More Shapes

A Free Document Productivity Tool For Visio

This post complete hand-drawn process flow shapes. With these tools you can complete model simple process flows using Visio's swimlane template. 

The Hand-drawn post series looks like this:

  • Part 1 - Introduction - How the hand-drawn look is created. Shows all shapes.
  • Part 2 - Basic Shapes - Good for most process flows.
  • Part 3 - More shapes - For more advanced models.
  • Part 4 - Building a hand-drawn template.
  • Part 5 - Quick posts - Three more great hand-draw shapes for process flows.

The Group Shape

The group shape is a standard BPMN shape that defines a set of processes.


The shape can be sized to surround other shapes.  It uses the standard randomizing routines to create the hand-drawn look.

The Data and Output Shape

The data shape is part of the BPMN set and can be used to signify data, information in many formats.  The output shape is not standard BPMNN shape. It is a bit old school these days, but almost everyone viewing it immediately gets the idea.

I had a lot of fun building these shapes.The data one really shows the technique of drawing a right angle.  If you draw it with two lines, Visio wants to smooth the line into a wide curve.  To counter this, you have to draw a line back into the corner before starting the next side.  This gives you a tight corner while still preserving the curve smoothing needed for the long sides.

The output shape required formal curve definitions to get the sweeping curves at the bottom. It uses the ArcTo geometry method which uses start, and end coordinates and a measure for the arch height.

The SmartConnector 

The SmartConnector joins process shapes and is based on the standard dynamic connector .  It includes optional message and activity shapes which can be used to convey meaning
There has been a surprising amount of refinement put into the connector.  It isn’t randomized because I need the dynamic smarts for retaining connection as shapes move.  However I have coloured it to match the hand-drawn standard, and most folk don’t seem to notice.

The text block is positioned just to the right of the start position.  I find this is the most likely location

When you right click you can select Message or Gears.

When either of these is selected, the shape offers a choice of locations at 25%, 50% and 75% from the start. As the length of the line changes, the icons move accordingly

The Note Box

The note box is useful for annotating diagrams. I have used a standard hand-drawn rectangle for the outline and the regular comic sans font.  

The box will also automatically resize as you add content.  It extends down while holding the width constant and demonstrates some useful Shapesheet text control attributes.

Other Shapes

I have added a number of other shapes to this stencil which will be the subject of subsequent posts
  • Swimlane and Pool Edge – These are part of the standard Visio cross functional flowchart tools. I have adapted these for hand-drawn diagrams
  • SmartAudit – This shape gives date, version and author information. It fits nicely into the cross functional flowchart and is linked to the right hand edge so that as the boundaries of the diagram move, so does the auidit box.
  • SmartAnnotation – This annotation tool remains linked to the parent shape is attached to, when the parent moves, the annotation does too.  It’s a real time saver.
  • Speech Bubble – I’ve lifted this from the Visio Guy – Take a look at his site for more fun shapes.
  • Other hand-drawn shapes –I’ll add a triangle shape and a hand-drawn line to the template shortly.

Downloading the shapes

You can download the stencil with these shapes from the Visio Downloads page here.

I am keen to hear how you find the shapes, so please leave a comment.

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