Update/Replace Shapes Addon

Started by nebulous, May 12, 2008, 12:19:48 PM

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I use a custom template and stencil for my business process diagrams. I occasionally update the stencil's shapes as I improve them.

I recently noticed a Visio Add-in called "Update Shapes" [TOOLS | ADD-ONS | VISIO EXTRAS].

I thought I could use it to replace an older version of a shape in an existing diagram with its newer version. But that doesn't work -- I get a dialog saying "This document does not contain out-of-date shapes."

Is that the purpose of this add-on?

If not, is there a (free) way for me to easily update old diagrams with newer versions of shapes?

Thank you,


Visio Guy

Hi Nebulous,

THAT is a feature that many of us Visio dev-types have long wished for. I think that updating shapes is a very difficult problem to tackle in a generic way, and that is one of the reasons there has never really been a tool created for it.

My guess is that the add-on you found in the Tools > Add-ons > Visio Extras menu is used by Microsoft/Visio to update some of their in-box custom solutions, like the Org-Chart, P&ID solution, and UML. I have noticed, that when opening older diagrams of these types that some sort of "update" progress bar will spring into action.

Perhaps one of the Microsofties will comment on this post, or perhaps some of the other Visxperts out there have talked to our friends in Redmond and gotten the complete scoop...

Thanks for the GREAT question, sorry I don't have the magic that you need :)
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Visio Guy. I appreciate the quick reply.

I know that in some "power tools" package I once demoed there was a shape replacer feature -- not just for updates, but for replacing any shape with any other shape. I no longer know even what program that was. It was not a free package, that was just one of its minor features, and I didn't have a budget to buy the package.

However, it does give me hope that something could be out there to help me. I'd love to hear from more Visxperts!


Excuse my ignorance but won't the very modestly priced Visimation search and replace tool for shapes accomplish that? There is a free download to try it out. It accomplished it for me and it even allows for hyperlink changes.


Bingo! Thank you so much, toddfoll.

I downloaded and tried the trial version of this tool from http://www.shapesource.com/Scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=141.

It pretty well does what I want. It's a little buggy, but for <$30 it works great!

I like that it allows me to choose what parameters I want to keep (text, original size, custom properties, etc.) via checkboxes.

Thanks for the tip!


Visio Guy

Nice find toddfall!

Visimation does indeed offer a search and replace tool. For others looking for this feature, and stumble upon this thread, here's a reproduction of the feature list for Visimation's add-on.

Visimation's Search and Replace Add-on for Visio


  • Finds and replaces shapes, not just text
  • Search for shape name, master name, text, plus advanced options
  • Searches active page or document, or all open documents
  • Properly handles shape size, glue, and text when replacing shapes
  • Hosted in a Visio 2003 modeless anchored window that can float, dock to the edge of the drawing window, or collapse and auto-hide itself (2003 and 2002 version only).

Scenarios for Use

  • Your office floor plan contains many instances of a certain chair, which is being upgraded to another model.  Search & Replace will locate and replace the old chair with the new... automatically.
  • You document your networks with Visio, and have been using old network shapes that are not very realistic.  Use Search & Replace to exchange them with new high quality graphic shapes that improve the visual quality of your drawings.
  • You have created an HVAC sales proposal drawing that contains many of the same air handling units.  Your customer has just changed the requirements, so you use Search & Replace to swap out the units for a different model... in a matter of seconds.

Visimation also has quite a few other add-ons for Visio. Check out their Visio Add-ons page!
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Visio Guy

Here's another tool from Sandrila:


Search for the word: "substitute"
For articles, tips and free content, see the Visio Guy Website at http://www.visguy.com
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Fred Mackie

Good mention of the sales proposal drawings. There's a webcast about how to make quick and easy sales proposals using Microsoft Office Visio 2007 on http://www.microsoft.com/events/series/visio.aspx.