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Tuesday 8, April 2014

Polydia 1.1.1 includes several enhancements and one area in particular is worth pointing out because it will play a larger role going forward: the 'Locked' setting for shapes in the 'Object Info' dialog/panel. This setting has been available for quite some time. Until now its purpose has simply been to prevent locked shapes from being moved or resized. This is quite useful for documents such as block diagrams where shapes are stacked one on top of another and you want to 'lock down' the lower shapes to prevent accidentally moving them while working with the shapes on top.

One new feature coming in Group Edit Mode is the ability to align groups of objects. The basic functionality works as you might expect: select a number of objects in Group Edit and then tap on the horizontal center alignment button, for example. The result is that all of the shapes are now aligned horizontally centered in a row. That's fine if you don't have anywhere in particular you need the selected shapes to align in the document. However, sometimes what you really need is to align the selected shapes with respect to a specific shape. The decision was made to have Polydia handle this scenario by checking to see if a locked shape is included in the selection, and if so, use it as an anchor for the alignment. What this means is that the alignment will occur relative to the anchor (locked) shape rather than relative to the overall group of shapes which is the default behavior if an anchor is not found.

Additional Group Edit features are being considered which will make similar use of the locked setting. There is also one annoyance with the existing shape locking functionality in that it is not obvious what was locked, and what was not, which could sometimes result in confusion. To solve this issue and take into account the more prominent role locked shapes will play going forward, a locked indicator will now display in the lower right hand corner of the shape as appropriate. Also, Group Edit now includes a lock/unlock shortcut to quickly set the state of the current selection.

However, there is one caveat: there are times when you probably don't want to see the locked indicator, especially if most or all of the document is locked down. Specifically, Polydia includes a number of structural templates in the form of the Euler and Venn diagrams where the predefined objects are all locked down. For this case, and others where it makes sense, there is now a 'Hide Locked Indicators' setting at the document level. That way, if you don't find these indicators helpful in your particular case, they can easily be turned off as needed. Going forward, existing and likely future structural templates that ship with Polydia will default to having the lock indicators hidden.