Creating and Controlling Merged Shapes
A merged shape has all the standard ShapeSheet® sections for a single shape, but instead of a single Geometry section, the merged shape contains a Geometry section for each separate path (a sequence of line or curve segments that connect a shape's vertices). Because you can work with a single ShapeSheet spreadsheet, setting attributes for a merged shape with multiple geometries is far more efficient than working with shapes that have been grouped, where each shape in a group has its own ShapeSheet spreadsheet.
When a shape has multiple Geometry sections, you can hide and show individual sections conditionally. For example, you might hide a path when another path in the shape is unfilled, and make it visible when the path is filled.
A merged shape has only one text block and one set of formatting attributes, as the following figure shows. If you're merging multiple shapes that contain text or special formatting, the merged shape retains the text and formatting of the first shape you selected.
When you merge shapes with different formats and text labels, the resulting shape retains the text label and attributes of the first shape you selected. The selection handles for the first object you select are green, while those on subsequently selected objects are blue.
In this section…
Filling Merged Shapes
Hiding Shape Geometry
When you want to merge several shapes into one shape that contains multiple Geometry sections, you merge component shapes using the Combine, Join, or Union command on the Operations submenu of the Shape menu. Unlike the Group command, these commands merge several shapes to create a single shape that contains multiple paths represented by multiple Geometry sections.
To merge several shapes that overlap each other into a single shape that combines all of the shapes' geometry information into one Geometry section, use the Union command.
To combine multiple selected shapes into a single new shape
- On the Shape menu, point to Operations, and then click Union, Combine, or Join. The resulting shape contains multiple Geometry sections corresponding to the paths of the original component shapes. For Union, the resulting shape will contain multiple Geometry sections if the original shapes did not overlap on the page.
When you merge shapes, the original shapes and any custom formulas in them are not retained, and you cannot recover them by ungrouping as you can do with grouped shapes.
- Before merging shapes
- Union merges overlapping shapes into a single geometry. Using Union on shapes that don't overlap maintains the geometry of each original shape.
- Combine merges selected shapes, while maintaining the geometry of each original shape. If the selected shapes overlap, the area where they overlap is cut out (discarded), creating a cookie-cutter effect.
- Join creates a new shape from the perimeter of two or more shapes, while maintaining the geometry of each original shape. The new shape results from the mathematical union of the regions covered by the original shapes.
Filling Merged Shapes
A Geometry section includes a NoFill cell that controls whether the associated path is filled, as well as a NoLine cell that controls whether the stroke associated with the path appears. If the NoFill cell is set to TRUE, the shape appears hollow. Because merged shapes can have only one set of formatting attributes applied, you can use this setting to selectively control the appearance of individual Geometry sections within shapes that have been merged.
When filled regions in any shapes overlap, the overlaps created by merged paths are considered to be outside of the filled paths and therefore are not filled, as in the following example on the left. If one path is completely contained by another, as in the following example on the right, it is not filled—even if its NoFill cell is set to false. To fill the shape, set the NoFill cell for that shape to TRUE.
Merging filled shapes and shapes contained within another shape
- When merged shapes that have been filled overlap, the overlapping areas are considered by Visio to be outside of the shapes and are not filled.
- The same principle applies when shapes are contained within another shape. Setting the NoFill cell for the smaller shape to TRUE causes the shape to be filled, though if another shape were contained inside of it, the new shape would appear hollow.
Hiding Shape Geometry
A Geometry section includes a NoShow cell that controls whether a shape's geometry is visible. To hide a shape described in a Geometry section, set the NoShow cell that corresponds to that shape to true. You can use this cell to design shapes for which the geometry is not visible or is visible only at certain times.
For example, you might create a merged shape representing a subsystem that has multiple Geometry sections representing different components. Depending on the state of the subsystem, you can hide individual components by setting their NoShow cells to true in the ShapeSheet spreadsheet. You might choose to edit directly in the ShapeSheet window, or you might add shortcut commands that allow users to selectively hide or show parts of the shape. For details about adding a shortcut command that controls whether shape geometry is visible, see Shortcut Menu Commands in Chapter 7, Enhancing Shape Behavior.
This merged shape represents a shape with two possible states; when the triangle shapes are hidden, only the dots remain visible.