I have been spending a lot of time thinking about ways to improve the plan icons in SIX and what could be done to make them more efficient.  The Plan icon that ships with SIX is pretty versatile but it is only available as a square with some limited color and text options.  I wanted something that was more universal and could be used across multiple categories.

Since the beginning D-Tools has always used one to many shapes vs data, meaning that a single shape could be used to represent multiple pieces of data.  This process has worked well for elevation drawings because the shape changes dimensions and text based on the specific data.  However plan view icons do not use dimensions and have a limited use of text to identify what the specific icon actually represents.  Because of these limitations I needed to come up with something that fundamentally changed the way the icons work.

The first thing I started thinking about were the different mounting options and how they were generally represented.  What I found was that an item that was going to be mounted in the wall it had a sideways “T” coming out of the side of the icon.  If it was going to be mounted in the floor it had a square around it.  A ceiling mount was just represented by the icon without any enhancements.  If I could create a Shape Data menu option for these three mount choices I could gain a lot of efficiency since we used three different shapes in the past to represent these choices.  So that is what I did and it worked really well.

That got me thinking that that if I can create Shape Data menu options that reconfigure the geometry to represent different mounting choices why not create some menu options to change the base shape from a circle to a square.  That way a single shape could represent many different types of objects AND different mounting choices.  I Googled “basic geometric shapes” and came away with 12 distinct, basic patterns that I could stuff into this new shape.  Now this single shape can be re-purposed to represent 12 different shapes and three different mounting environments.  In addition I added a 21 (12 shown below) color fill pallet as a menu item to make  the shape more customizable and unique.  This gives us a total of 252 different looks and three different mount options for a total of 756 possible options, all from a single shape.


This new plan icon will be available to all SIX users via automatic download by the end of this week.   A full description of this new shape can be found at the SIX documentation wiki about half way down the page here: http://d-tools.mindtouch.us/SIX_Guide/007_Projects/003_Visio_Interface/Visio_Shapes_for_SIX

BTW; Visio only for now, we are working on a AutoCAD version.

Special thanks to VisGuy Chris Roth for doing all the heavy lifting on this shape.