Customizing think-cell

This chapter describes how to customize think-cell, i.e., how to change default colors and other default properties.

The following properties can be changed using style files: The list of available colors and patterns (see Color and fill)

List of colors and patterns available for customization

The list of available color schemes (see Color scheme)

List of color schemes available for customization

The colors of Harvey ball and checkbox (see Checkbox and Harvey ball)

Colors of Harvey ball and checkbox available for customization

The list of available lines styles for the line chart and all connectors. The list of available markers for line charts and scatter charts

The first sections describe creating and loading a style file and explain how to deploy it in an organization. An understanding of these tasks is required in any case. Afterwards, you may either follow the Style file tutorial to create your own style file or go through the format reference in Style file format.

C1
Creating a think-cell style
C2
Loading style files
C3
Deploying think-cell styles
C4
Style file tutorial

C1 Creating a think-cell style

Simple modifications to an existing style file can be made using any text editor. A new think-cell style file should be created using a dedicated XML editor. It will support you by automatically checking for errors and making suggestions on how to solve them. Our recommendation for such an editor and tips for setting it up is described at

http://www.think-cell.com/kb/0191

A dedicated XML editor will typically highlight errors in your document, and with a keyboard shurtcut such as Ctrl-Spacebar you can trigger auto completion: the editor will offer a choice of tags, attributes or values applicable to the current context (position of the text cursor). If you move the mouse over highlighted errors, you will get a tooltip with a detailed explanation of the error.

Several sample style files are delivered together with think-cell and you can find them in the subfolder styles in the think-cell installation folder. First, find out the location of the installation folder. It is shown when you click About in the More menu.

Finding the installation folder

Open this folder and go to the subfolder styles, e.g.,

C:\Program Files\think-cell\styles

Open the file example_style_default.xml. It should look like this:

The default style file loaded in Visual Studio Express for Web

The editor automatically checks your file for errors. You can display an error list by clicking on View > Error List:

Empty error list window in Visual Studio Express for Web

Make sure that there are no warnings or errors indicated before you save an edited style file.

Of course, any other editor that supports XML also works. The file needs to be saved with an .xml extension.

C2 Loading style files

To load a style file, choose Load Style File... from the menu More. In the dialog, navigate to the folder with the style file, choose the file and click Open. It is used for any new charts in the current presentation.

For example, after you load the sample style file example_style_complex.xml from the styles directory in think-cell’s installation path, the color and color scheme property controls will include customized items.

Changed color and color scheme list after loading a complex example
style

If you want to apply a style’s colors or color schemes in existing charts, you need to do so manually.

C3 Deploying think-cell styles

Load Style File... loads a style file into the master slide of the current presentation. When the presentation is distributed as a PowerPoint template, the think-cell style is implicitly distributed as well. It should not be necessary to give a think-cell style file to individual users. Switching between styles is accomplished by switching between PowerPoint templates.

C4 Style file tutorial

In think-cell’s installation directory (usually C:\Program Files\think-cell), in the subdirectory styles, you can find the style file example_style_default.xml. This style mirrors the colors and color schemes that are available immediately after installation when no style is loaded. Therefore:

1.
Make a copy of example_style_default.xml and load it into an XML editor (see Creating a think-cell style for choosing a suitable editor).
2.
Walk through the file from top to bottom making the changes described in the following steps.
3.
Remove any unneeded colors from the list inside the fillLst element. You will find solidFill, pattFill and separator elements corresponding to the items in the color list displayed in think-cell (see Color and fill). To remove, e.g., a solidFill element, remove everything between and including the opening tag <solidFill ...> and the closing tag </solidFill>.
4.
Optionally, create a new section for your own colors. To do this, insert a separator tag by writing <separator/> at the appropriate location in the color list. Also, feel free to use line breaks, indentation and empty lines to structure the XML code in the style file for your own convenience. Spaces and linebreaks have no effect on the resulting style.
5.
Add your own colors using the solidFill element. Your color needs a name and values for the red, green and blue channels. You should have these values from the specification document for your company’s corporate identity. If the color’s name should be “Light Green”, the decimal value for the red channel 170, for green 255 and for blue 42, then it should look like this:
<solidFill name="Light Green"> 
  <sdrgbClr r="170" g="255" b="42"/> 
</solidFill>
6.
Remove any unneeded color schemes from the list inside the fillSchemeLst element. You will find fillScheme elements corresponding to the items in the color scheme list displayed in think-cell (see Color scheme). To remove a fillScheme element, remove everything between and including the opening tag <fillScheme ...> and the closing tag </fillScheme>.
7.
Optionally, modify an existing color scheme. You can
  • remove one or multiple colors from the scheme by removing the respective fillRef elements or
  • reorder the existing colors by reordering fillRef elements or
  • include one of your own colors by adding a fillRef element inside the fillScheme element at the appropriate place. If you wish to include the color defined above, add the following line:
    <fillRef name="Light Green"/>
    

Note that you can only use colors that have been defined in the fillLst section (see steps 3.-5.) above. In particular, if you removed any colors in step 3., you must remove those colors from the color schemes, too.

8.
Optionally, create a new color scheme using the fillScheme element. Your scheme needs a name, e.g., “Green Scheme”, and a list of color references as fillRef elements. If you had defined the colors “Dark Green” and “Medium Green” in addition to “Light Green” above, your color scheme might look like this:
<fillScheme name="Green Scheme"> 
  <fillRef name="Dark Green"/> 
  <fillRef name="Medium Green"/> 
  <fillRef name="Light Green"/> 
</fillScheme>
9.
Check the contents of the fillSchemeRefDefault element. The name attribute specifies the color scheme that is used by default when inserting new charts. If you wish to set your own color scheme as the new default, modify the code like this:
<fillSchemeRefDefault name="Green scheme"/>
10.
Save the modified style file, load it (see Loading style files) and test it.
11.
Deploy the new style in your organization as described in Loading style files. In particular, it is not necessary to send the XML file to your colleagues, but you should of course keep it for your own reference.