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Changing the fill colors in cross functional swimlanes

Started by Mahisse, October 31, 2013, 02:09:29 PM

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Hi again

I have this annoying problem and I think it's simply because I can't grasp my head around the whole "theme", "style" and "design" dynamics.

I'm creating a Crossfunctional Visio template and I have a specific theme/style that I want so I'm trying to specify the color fill in the swimlanes manually.

First of all.... WHY oh WHY does the crossfunctional stencils completely ignore a defined style? When I try to change the style in Drawing Explorer-> Styles-> Normal -> Define Style and changes the color fill nothing happens when I draw in new stencils.. They still have the default blue color. This works perferctly with stencils from basic flow charts, so why not here?

If I try to edit the fill colors in the swimlane's Master I'm able to change the fill in the swimlan but the Headerboxes ("Title" and "Phases") will still be default blue and if I edit the Headline's Master I can only create a stencil where the headers will appear everytime I draw in the new stencil.

How can I make a dynamic swimlane with my own defined fill color? This annoys the hell out of me.


No ideas for this problem? Or maybe just an explanation?

Please let me know if the question is not clear.


Swimlanes are a grouped shape and what you are attempting is to change the fill-color of one of the sub-shapes. There isn't an operation that will affect all of the sub-shapes. Your best bet is to open the drawining explorer and then drill down to the sub-shape that you really want to change and do it from there.


Well, the theme's don't seem to work very well on the Cross Functional Flowchart.  But, it is possible to do the manual editing you desire.  I suspect that perhaps you haven't drilled down far enough into the grouped shapes as suggested by Aledlund.

Attached is a sample of what can be done. 

Not sure what you mean by "dynamic".  There could be options that might be added upon dropping swimlane onto the drawing.  Most ought to be able to be done in shapesheet, VBA might provide additional options.

Visio 2019 Pro

Paul Herber

Which version of Visio?
Visio 2007 and before used grouped shapes, Visio 2010 onwards uses containers.
Electronic and Electrical engineering, business and software stencils for Visio -


Visio 2019 Pro


I'm using Visio 2010 and the whole container thing is also new to me. I'm trying to understand how the swimlane is built up.
The problem is when changing the fill color via the shapesheet by "digging down" to the right shape I manage to change the color of the shape but after that the swimlane loses its function where the first drag and drop of a swimlane creates the title and phase headers and after that you just snap a new swimlane onto that. After editing the subshapes it will loose the ability to "snap" to another lane and it will always have the title and phase headers.


it sounds like you ungrouped the shape to do your editing, always a no-no, and then regrouped it (thus the loss of functionality)



Thank you for your replies, I finally figured it out! I may not have explained myself well enough for you to understand what I wanted.

What I had to do to create a swimlane with specified formats in the title and phase container was to open the original stencil file "xfunc_M.vssx" in the visio content folder and save a copy to get rid of the "read only". Saved it as "xfunc_M_Test.vssx". Once you have an editable version of the stencil file you can format the containers as you like.
Once you have made the desirable format changes go into the developer tab and press "view code". Change the AlternateNames to "xfunc_M_Test.vss;xfunc_M_Test". Save and close the stencil file.

Now create a Cross Functional document. Make an editable master of the swimlane stencil. Edit the the master of the swimlane and enter the shape sheet for the swimlane shape. In here you should change the User.visMasterStencil from "xfunc_M.vss" to "xfunc_M_Test.vssx". Close and update the stencil.

After that you want to go into the developer tab again and press "view code". Change the AlternateNames in this document to "xfunc_M_Test.vssx;xfunc_M_Test.vss". Save.

Visio should now use your customized swimlane stencil with all the original functions still intact.

(You will probably only need to change the AlternateNames to whatever you end up calling the stencil file)

I'm sure alot of you guys knew how to do this so sorry if I couldn't make my OP clear enough.

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