Grouping and resizing multiple elements in Cacoo
July 21, 2020
In Cacoo, you can use a variety of shapes and imported images in your diagrams.
There is a ‘Group’ feature that allows you to merge multiple shapes or elements into one selectable and editable field. As a group like this, they can be moved around more easily, and styles can be applied collectively instead of each individually.
To help, we’ve put together a quick tutorial about using grouped elements in Cacoo, including:
- How to align or arrange multiple elements
- How to group multiple elements
- How to change the relative position of an element in a group
- How to maintain the size of an element in a group by using resizing constraints
- How to pin an element in a group to maintain its margin
Understanding these techniques will help you to use Cacoo more effectively and create diagrams that look exactly like you imagined.
How to align or arrange multiple elements
If you have multiple shapes or images that you want to align horizontally/vertically, or have them spread out evenly, you can use the ‘Arrange’ function. Simply select two or more elements, and the function will be available in the editor.
- Align selection: You can align the selected elements by their edges, center, or top/bottom.
- Distribute selection: You can arrange the selected elements to have them spread out horizontally or vertically.
Note: If the multiple elements are grouped together (as mentioned below), they become a single grouped element, and thus, the ‘Arrange’ function will not be available; you’ll need to ungroup them first.
How to group multiple elements
- Select multiple elements that you wish to combine into a group. You can select multiple elements by holding down the Shift key and clicking them one by one, or by clicking and dragging a rectangular selection over them.
- Choose the ‘Group’ tool in the editor menu, or use Ctrl + G (Win), Cmd + G (Mac) to group the selected elements together.
To ungroup elements, use Ctrl + U (Win), Cmd + U (Mac), or choose ‘Ungroup’ in the editor menu.
How to change the relative position of an element in a group
- Click on the group once to select it (you’ll notice a blue box appear around it).
- Click again on the individual element you want to move.
- Mouse over the + sign in the middle of the element. When the pointer changes to four-directional arrows, click and drag the element to move it.
- When you release the element, its relative position has changed but it stays as part of the group.
What happens when you resize a group of elements?
When you resize a group, each element’s size will be adjusted proportionally to the overall group. In addition, each element will keep its relative position in the group.
To preserve the group’s width to height ratio, simply hold Shift while resizing.* This ensures that the ratio won’t be affected by size changes.
*Note: If it’s an imported image or the group contains an imported image, you do not need to hold Shift while resizing, to keep its original ratio. Holding Shift to maintain ratio only applies to Cacoo shapes.
Using resizing constraints to maintain the size of an element in a group
In some cases, you may want to preserve the size of an individual element while resizing the group.
To keep an element in the group at the same size:
- Click the group once to select it.
- Click again on the element whose size you are preserving.
- In the editor menu, choose the ‘Resizing constraints’ option.
- Under the ‘Fix’ column, click on the checkboxes to fix the height (H) and width (W) of the element. This will keep the element at a fixed height, width, or both when the group is resized.
When the checkboxes are enabled, a lock icon and green lines appear on the individual element, indicating that its height and width are locked.
Pin an element in a group to maintain its margin
Sometimes, you may want to maintain an element’s margin length in the group during resizing. This is where pinning comes in handy.
Check out the images below as an example.
In image A, the orange rectangle is not pinned, so its margins decrease proportionally when the group is made smaller.
In image B, the left and right sides of the orange rectangle are pinned, so it maintains a constant margin when the group is resized.
How to pin an element in a group:
- Follow the same steps 1-3 above to open the ’Resizing constraints’ option.
- Under the ‘Pin’ column, the settings are for pinning the element to the group margins.
- Click on the respective dots to pin the left, right, top, or bottom margins of the element.
- To maintain the size of an element in a group, use the Fix H and/or W options under ‘Resizing constraints’ in the editor menu.
- To maintain the margin of an element in a group, pin it to the top, bottom, left, or right sides.
Now that you know the ins and outs of element grouping, give it a try in your Cacoo diagrams!