Visio 2007: PivotDiagram tips and tricks, part 1

Eric posted a little bit about PivotDiagrams and what you can do with them. I’d like to add a little flavor to that by giving you a little more information about how to get the most out of working with the feature.

Adding a PivotDiagram to an Existing Diagram

Eric mentioned the new PivotDiagram template, and that is the usual way that most people will create a new PivotDiagram. This creates a whole new document, which is often what you want.

On the other hand, sometimes it would be great to be able to add a little data analysis into an existing diagram. For example, if you have a cross-functional flowchart for a business process improvement project, you may want to add a PivotDiagram to show some analysis of the transactions flowing through the process. To do this, all you need to do is go to the Data menu then click on "Insert PivotDiagram…".

When you insert a PivotDiagram into an existing diagram like this, it takes on the layout settings of the page it was added to – we don’t want to make any changes to your diagram. If you want the standard PivotDiagram layout, go to "Shape>Configure Layout…" and set the Style to "Hierarchy".

Copying PivotDiagrams

Often you need to look at the same data cut in a couple of different ways. To use a clichéd example, sales numbers might be broken down by product and also by region. We wanted to make doing something like this extremely easy. Obviously you can use the menu item I describe above, but you’ll have to go through the data selector a couple of times. When I’m doing this, I just build up my PivotDiagram including any customized Data Graphics and then copy and paste the whole PivotDiagram. That creates a second PivotDiagram hooked up to the same data source. Then I can just select the top node or any other shape and group the data by a different category.

You can also select a subset of the diagram, and a new PivotDiagram will be created, filtered down to just that data. For example, in the diagram below, I’ve selected the shape corresponding to one of the products (Currency Options).

When I copy and paste that shape, I have a second PivotDiagram on that page. Note that the data graphic that I applied is still applied to the second PivotDiagram and that the second PivotDiagram only shows the data for "Currency Options". There is an optional legend that will show you what filters are applied. I can now start adding categories or other totals to this ship as if I had created it from scratch.

This also works across diagrams, so if you have a PivotDiagram in one document that you want to add to another, it will automatically be hooked up to your data if you copy or drag it to another Visio document.

Comments (4)

  1. BigMerk says:

    Hey Bill thanks for the interesting post. I’m still trying to get my head around pivot diagrams as something with differentiated value from Proclarity. At first blush it seems to be that Visio is far more accessible (less expensive and easier to use) and made for the masses as opposed to just a few analysts, like Proclarity tends to be.


  2. wmorein says:

    When I think about PivotDiagrams compared to Proclarity decomposition trees, the biggest difference is in the intended use of the end product.

    PivotDiagrams were designed from the ground up to be put into a presentation or be used in communicating the data. We put effort into features like Apply Shape and retaining formatting and position changes across refeshes (I’ll cover some of this in later posts). The diagrams that are generated are full-fledged Visio diagrams so you can also do things like add other shapes to call out or annotate your data. The idea is that you can easily put together a data connected diagram that conveys the data you want to a broad audience.

  3. The default PivotDiagram layout is a hierarchy with spacing of 9.5 mm (or 0.375 in) between shapes. This…

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