Sunday, 23 November 2014

Taking Stock

A Free Document Productivity Tool for Word

I have been working on some process documentation in the past few weeks, so I'll give the Word macros a break and post some of the Visio tools that I have developed over the last couple of years.

Hand-drawn Process Flow Shapes

My first Visio post will be a set of process flow shapes with a funky hand-drawn look. This signals informality, and promotes discussion. I think they are fun to use too.

The shapes can be used for flowcharts, but there are extensions so you get a decent subset of the BPNM shape palette with shape variants you can switch on and off.

Other Upcoming Visio Posts

My Visio tools provide efficiency improvement features that you can use everyday.  They are especially useful for people laying out process flows, context diagrams and preparing simple graphic designs for summarising business issues and solutions.

The Visio posts coming soon are:
  • Hand-drawn process flow shapes - stencil and template
  • SmartAlign - Enhanced Horizontal and Vertical alignment tools
  • SmartSize - An smart tool for consistently sizing shapes
  • SmartLink - Connector link tools used when adjusting process flows

I'll also be adding a range of smart shapes for reducing the effort when BPMN diagrams - I'll publish a stencil and template for these too.

I also regularly use a set of page re-size and layout tools which I'll also publish.

Word Tools

I have not finished with Word, I have the following tools yet to publish.  Let me know if you want any expedited.  The upcoming tools are:
  • SmartAnnotation - Enhanced annotation
  • SmartBrowse - Extensions to the standard browse tools for managing reviews.
  • Advanced document review tools for managing editing tasks
  • Advanced Table formatting - quickly inserting tables, formatting subsections and making tables consistent across the document.
There are one or two other small items which I use a lot - things like cleaning up double spaces, dropping bookmarks, 

SmartTable Insert Update

A Free Document Productivity Tool for Word

I have added logic to the SmartTable Insert tool to improve the way Word inserts columns

When Word adds columns, it adds them with the same size as the column at the start point.  

I find that inconvenient, especially if auto resize is switched off, the new column can be created off the width of the page.

The SmartTable Insert routine has been altered to add a modest sized new column to the right if the cursor is just outside the first row. 

To insert a column, make sure the cursor is just outside the table at the first header row.

The new table is of modest size, not the monster sized column that I usually get.


This is an update to SmartTable Insert.  The latest copy of all Tool code can be found in the Downloads tab.

SmartTable Number Update

A Free Document Productivity Tool for Word

There have been a number of improvements to SmartTable Number, the tool that renumbers and tidies tables in Word.

The highlights are:
  • Ability to handle multi-row headers.
  • Suffix codes e.g “7a, 7b, 7c..” added for rows that follow from the one above.
  • Continue numbering from a previous table.

Handle Multi-row headers

SmartTable Renumber is designed to start numbering from the first row after the header. Previously, only single row headers were supported. Having worked on some complex tables lately, I added logic to handler multi-row headers.

You can now use the “Repeat Header Rows” option in the Table Layout tab to define multi-row headers. Numbering will start from the first regular row after the header.

Using the "Repeat Header Rows" sets a flag on each header that ensures the header gets repeated on each page.  The numbering routine tests for this flag and skips header before starting to assign numbers.

Suffix Codes

The routine now numbers rows that have a blank cell in column 2.  It does this by appending “a, b, c…” to the previous row number.  

In this example, since there is no text in column two, the routine has added the suffix a, b, c... to the previous row. 

To switch this on, a new entry in the table control list has been added.  A value of S adds this suffix.  If a value of “N” is entered, rows with a blank column 2 are not numbered.

I needed this logic to handle some complicated tables where the second cell was sometimes a header for several rows that follow.

Continue numbering from a previous table

To continue numbering from the previous table type ”-1” in the first number cell and then select SmartTable Number.

The routine will go to the previous table and get the last number (and prefix, if any) from the previous table and continue numbering.

The “-1”refers to the number of tables to go back, If you type “-2”, the routine will get the number and any prefix from the table before the previous one.  This allows me to insert small tables between the main numbering sequence

In this example -1 has been added to the first row of the second table.  

After selecting SmartTable Number, the numbering from the previous table has been copied down.

I needed this logic to handle several tables that needed to have a common numbering. 

The routine is not smart enough to automatically renumber a series of tables, you have to do them one at a time. This isn't a limitation of coding, its more of a limitation in the way Word works. There are no spare fields in the table properties to permanently store the relationship between tables, this makes building repeatable process tricky.


This is an update to SmartTable Number.  The latest copy of all Tool code can be found in the Downloads tab.