Templates are cool. Templates help you. This is how.
Use templates to organize things that you find yourself repeating when creating diagrams. You can arrange shapes and text fields just how you want them in a diagram ‘template’ and then you drag that template onto a working diagram every time you need it.
For example, perhaps there’s a certain arrangement of business shapes you use quite often. Or perhaps some text stuff that you put at the top of every diagram. These kinds of things go into a template.
Templates libraries are stored in the Templates panel, similar to shapes and backgrounds. In fact, you can export template libraries just like shape and background libraries.
To show the Templates panel, click the “Templates” button, third one down in the right-hand navigation. Or press F3. You should see something like this:
There’s always a “Default Templates” library, which will be empty when you first start. You can add lots of templates to this default library, or create a bunch of different template libraries and put templates in each of those, just like you do with shape or background libraries.
But you can’t delete the Default Templates library, because then you might not know what’s going on and send me an email like “aaahh aaahh help what do I do?” and I’d say “create a new Templates library” and you’d be like “Whaaat? Whaat? Ahhhh I’m in hell...” and so on, and nobody wants that. So you’ll always have a Default Templates library.
Creating a New Template Library¶
To create a new template library, select Libraries > New custom library from the menu, and then enter a new libray name and make sure to set type to “Templates” and not shapes or backgrounds.
You’ll now see your new library in the Templates panel, ready for some new templates:
Creating a New Template¶
You can create a new template in your library by right- or shift-clicking anywhere in the template library and selecting “Create template”:
Right away, you’ll notice a green bar beneath and to the left of your diagram. This means you’re in Template Mode. Whatever you do in your diagram work area now will be saved to the template you’re creating.
Click the “Template Properties” button in that green bar to modify how your template behaves later on when you apply it to one of your diagrams. The options on this panel are pretty self explanatory...
Adding Things to your Template¶
Ok this is where things get interesting. When you edit your template you arrange shapes, text fields and images the way you want them so they’re ready to go when you pull your template into a diagram.
Important note: When you are working with your template, you’ll probably need to switch to the library panel to grab new shapes, or perhaps the search panel to search for a shape. But you’re still working on a template. The green border will remind you of that.
Let’s set up that special UX Reaction Plan that you like to use in a lot of your diagrams...
If you select any shape or text area in your template, you’ll notice a new drop-down selector in the properties window:
This dropdown has three options:
- Free: after you drag the template into your diagram, you’ll be able to move this particular item and change it all you want.
- Placeholder: after you drag the template into your diagram, you won’t be able to move this particular item, but you will be able to change things like text or color on this particular item.
- Fixed: after you drag this template into your diagram, you won’t be able to change anything about this particular item.
For example, you might want to set a text header to Placeholder so you can change the text but not the position.
You can set any item in your template to one of these three settings, and it will behave accordingly when you later drag the template into your diagram.
Here’s how we want our UX Reaction Plan template to work:
Click the “DONE” Button in the green bar at the bottom of the screen when you’re done editing your template (you can always edit again later).
You’ll now see your template in your template library, ready to be dragged out whenever you need that UX Reaction Plan.
Remember that when you drag your template into your diagram, each item in that template will behave differently, depending on whether you set it to be Free, Placeholder, or Fixed.