In this post I went over some of my history with Middle Atlantic Products (MAP) and how we created the first version of RackTools the Visio based equipment rack design software.  If you read that you know that MAP has just released some new Visio rack shapes.

These are really well done rack shapes. I think they are based on our old rack shapes but we did not do them.  It is clear that whoever did knows a thing or two about Visio.  Again well done.

Anyway, man does not live by rack shapes alone.  Any drawing that includes a rack is probably going need some actual equipment at some point.  I thought some of our users would find it beneficial if they could take the MAP Visio shapes and link them to the D-Tools database and drawing surface so the rack can be populated with equipment and added to the project.

Before I start it should be noted that there is a MAP stencil and data available to all D-Tools SI users for free via the Manage Data UI in SI5.  For the most part the D-Tools MAP stencil will produce the same drawing style as the MAP Visio shapes  Here is a picture of a D-Tools rack on the left and MAP rack on the right.  I think the MAP shapes look ‘fresher” but that level of detail may be lost on the ultimate client?

So here is how to insert a MAP Visio rack shape or any Visio shape for that matter in a  D-Tools SI 5 drawing.

  1. Draw a rack in using the MAP Visio Rack shapes.
  2. Copy the MAP Visio rack and paste into an open D-Tools SI5 Visio project
  3. Right click on the new shape choose D-Tools>>Shape>>Link to D-Tools.  You will get the following UI prompting you to link the shape to a specific product in your database.
  4. When you click apply you will notice that whatever shape is being added to the drawing automatically goes to whatever the max programmed size is. (oops, big problem)
  5. Give up, it wont work, here is why.

The problem is that whoever programmed the MAP Visio shapes used the Prop.Model field as an index for the equipment height.  Clever way to handle multiple shape heights per model but D-Tools uses the Prop.Model field for the actual manufacturer model number.  As soon as you link the shape D-Tools will put the model number from the database in the Prop.Model section of the shape overwriting the original index value causing the shape to go to the max height of the index.

Close, but in reality not that big a deal because D-Tools comes with all/most/some of the shapes/data anyway.  In any case I would encourage more manufacturers to create their own versions of the MAP Visio rack shapes.  Just make sure to ping me first so I can give you some pointers on how to make them more compatible with D-Tools and/or other programs.