Monday, January 19, 2009

Diagrams and Word

I needed to create an overview document for our Director, and the best way to (briefly) provide an overview of our architecture was to draw a little diagram. This was never a hard thing to do in OpenOffice; just insert a new OpenOffice Drawing. OpenOffice also let me set up guides and snaps, so that all my diagrams looked clean.

My first challenge to do this in Word was figuring out how to create a new drawing. Under the "Insert" tab, there's a "Shapes" pull-down. Nope, that draws a shape directly into the document, hiding everything underneath it. "Picture" allows me to insert a picture from a file (for example, a JPG photo) which is not what I needed. "Word Art" wasn't helpful, either.

Eventually, I stumbled upon "New Drawing Canvas" under "Shapes". This wasn't intuitive to me. Everything else in the "Shapes" pull-down is a shape, except the "New Drawing Canvas", which is (technically) an action.

(Ironically, in writing this blog entry, I opened an empty Word document and tried to retrace my steps so I could write it all down. I honestly couldn't figure it out again, and I had just drawn 3 diagrams in my document for work.)

Once I had my new canvas, my big problem was that everything just looked sloppy. If Word understands the concept of "snap points" they are spaced too close together to be useful. Even in the absence of snaps, there are no guide lines to help me line things up by sight. I fell back to the old trick of "create a shape I want to duplicate several times, then copy/paste." It worked, but doesn't look nearly as nice as diagrams created using OpenOffice.

There isn't an "Options" for the canvas, but you can right-click and select "Format Drawing Canvas" to get some options. There isn't much to choose from, and I found no options that let me set up guides or snaps.

To create a simple diagram in Word, I had to fight the whole way - and I'm still not happy with the result. If someone can point me the right way, please do so in the comments.

1 comment:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.