K09 Tip: Using Connection Lines

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Over the years, we’ve heard many users complain that Keynote doesn’t have any decent flowcharting tools. While we have to concede that Keynote 09 still doesn’t match PowerPoint in this area (not to mention the new SmartArt that PPT 08 brought), Apple did toss us one new tool: The Connection Line.

In Keynote 09, if you select any two objects (including photos and other placed objects (and choose Connection Line from the Insert menu, a line that “sticks” to both objects is inserted between them. You can recolor this line and treat it as any other line in Keynote (including adding a reflection to it if you so desire). What you can’t do is move where the line is stuck to each object. In our tests it appears that this is determined by the location of the two objects. Put them perfectly above or beside each other and the line sticks to the center of each. Put one at an angle to the other and the anchor moves around, sticking wherever it makes sense, even to the corner of one or the other of the objects.

If you’re a fan of curved lines, there’s a small white dot in the center of each connection line that you can drag to curve the line. If you curve the line a lot, you’ll see the anchor move with it. It’s all rather smooth, but again, you aren’t offered a lot of control. The only other adjustment you can make is dragging the little blue dot at either end of the connection line back toward the center of the line. This actually shortens the line, to the point where it doesn’t even touch the two shapes. It’s still anchored to them, it just doesn’t visibly touch them. Doing this with the Option key held down shrinks it from both ends. We’re not really sure why you’d want a floating connection line, but Apple thought enough to offer that feature anyway.

So there you have it, still no true “SmartArt” type tools, and no true flow charting tools, but at least Connection Lines are are decent start.