This interactive session is Part 2 of 2 part Visio Automation series.  It will show different ways to reduce the work involved in creating and maintaining multiple sets of IT network diagrams, focusing on networking diagramming. David Cutherbertson, of SquareMile will cover techniques that can be used for data centers, offices, networks, servers, applications, cabling, power, systems, ITIL service maps, security, etc, based on your questions and concerns. No programming involved – just awareness of how standard Visio can save time and improve consistency.

Don’t miss Part 1 of this series!

[irp posts=”1996″ name=”ITDUG 2019.7 Webinar – Visio Automation Tips & Tricks”]

Video Transcript
Allen Edwards
Good evening David

Allen How you doing fine Good, how early is it for you at the moment

10am are approaching about for you.

Unknown Speaker
It’s almost six o’clock in the evening. So I was six.

Allen Edwards
And I’m going to a Europe from practically my first time next month, trying to figure out how my work schedule is gonna look.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, of course, it depends which time zone you’re in. But if it’s on the East Coast, it’s five hours difference in England, on the West Coast

Unknown Speaker
now.

Allen Edwards
And I’ll be in France and check.

Unknown Speaker
So you’ll actually be six hours difference. And I go to France in the Czech Republic on business, because we have customers there, and also been on holiday as well, because I’m not going to other places. But as you probably were with our politics, I might not get the chance quite soon.

Allen Edwards
All right, you seeing my screen share, okay.

Unknown Speaker
Yep, no problem. Yep,

Allen Edwards
these slides are super subtle last time, a couple of minor updates. I’ll be less than five minutes doing it.

Unknown Speaker
Okay, yep.

Allen Edwards
And that five minutes will bias time for people who are late anyways.

Unknown Speaker
Yep. So I’ve got the rights to be able to share my screen and things.

Allen Edwards
Yeah. I just made your co host. So we should be able to share. I’ll stop sharing as soon as I do your introduction slide. Yep. Like before, I will try to monitor the chat for you. And William, if there’s ever a chance to interrupt you, even if it’s a little off topic, I’ll just try to get your attention to something as a question or such.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, just interrupt me because quite often as a natural flow, and I’m concentrating a lot trying to think about what I’m going to talk about next.

Allen Edwards
Pretty common to the and the thought is appreciated.

Unknown Speaker
But I’ll be in Vegas in a month’s time, doing a three hour Visio workshop. And so I think we’ll probably have about 100 people at it.

Allen Edwards
Minneapolis, Minnesota. Oh, right. After that, I’ll be in Paris.

Unknown Speaker
So you know, you get around a lot. Wait, where’s your home? Wherever your hat is?

Allen Edwards
Yeah, pretty. I’ve been living with my girlfriend in West Coast, Canada. But we’re only here. She’s only here nine months a year. We spend our winters in Mexico. Yep. And then I’ve traveled with the rest for business. My home address is technically in Georgia, though.

Unknown Speaker
Is it? Okay, I suppose is where you are resident for tax purposes that the government’s interested.

Allen Edwards
Right. And I mean, people ask me, why don’t you get your residence in Canada In Canada. So first of all, my only interest here is a girl. And changing all that stuff’s a pain in the butt.

Unknown Speaker
Well,

Unknown Speaker
I’m, I’ve traveled around a lot. So as you’re probably aware, to all parts of the globe, that I do, like coming home and just put my feet up in front of a fire and doing nothing sometimes

Allen Edwards
called with no fire. So start. Yep. I’m gonna let some folks in. Yep. Feel free to have small talk. I will just mention that out loud and give them a brief format and let’s let folks join.

Unknown Speaker
Yep. Good. Okay.

Allen Edwards
Good morning, afternoon and evening, everyone. We’re still getting warmed up. It’s a few minutes early, and we’ll wait for some others to join me about 20 registered attendees. David is on the line set up ready to go. This is a part two webinar. So we’re going to be very brief introductions, but I will do some mainly to kill some time as this is completely interactive. David is a highly focused presenter, but he has asked us to interrupt anytime. So you can put your questions in chat. You can unmute yourself. We’d love to have a video cameras if you don’t mind those. Just ask any anytime and if it’s via chat, I will interrupt David when it seems convenient into his attention. We’re just kind of small talking right now waiting for a few others to join. David what what where are you at again,

Unknown Speaker
I’m in the middle part of England, an area called the Cotswolds a pretty rural area. And I live in a little village where sort of typical picture postcard. With this is where tourists come to visit us to see what England looks like for houses that maybe four or 500 years old in the village,

Allen Edwards
our closest at the Gatwick

Unknown Speaker
it’s about two and a half hours drive. So we’re sort of in the middle of the countries near Oxford is probably, if anybody knows where Oxford is. And there’s no customers here. They’re all somewhere else, somewhere else in the world.

Allen Edwards
And we were just discussing that you, I’m on the west coast of Canada, and you are in the central part of England. And you and I are about eight timezones apart. Is that correct?

Unknown Speaker
Probably, yep. And that’s today. And then from what you were saying is, you’re going to be in Europe. And while you’re in Europe, I’m going to be in other countries. So I’ve got projects in Australia, quite a few in the US at the moment, a couple in Europe, kicking off in various stages. And some old customers have been going on for many, many years. And they’re the Middle East, as well. So I’m used to working across different time zones, just like yourself.

Allen Edwards
Yeah, people asking me to schedule appointments, that we have to use calendly to do it, because I cannot constantly translate these time zones correctly. Yeah. I always get the amount of hours correct. I don’t always get the plus or the minus, correct.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, that’s why sending an invite to people. And so it then translates into their local time is very useful. But I look forward to trying to give people a little bit more awareness of some of the issues around Visio that can sort of reduce the load of time and everything. So yeah, should be a good session.

Allen Edwards
Sounds great. Well, we are recorded. And it is two minutes after. So we’ll go ahead and get started. Which is welcome everybody to the ITU documentation users group. This is webinar I’m calling it 2019 nine a pretty self evident what that means that the A just means this was kind of a special follow up meeting. So I was hoping to have another nine coming up this month. But for today, we have Visio automation tips and tricks part two, where we’re going to focus a bit on that network mapping. A little bit about our group. For those who may not be from there, we were founded by Tracy harden. She owns next century technologies and connect in Kentucky been an MSP since 2001. She created this group back in May 2018, because she wanted some peer group help on how the heck to use it documentation just group. She recruited me back in 2018. August to collab in the group and we opened it up to more than just ice glue users. Cuz we felt that getting more people involved and interested would give us more brains to help answer our questions when we had them. And a little note, as of today, we have 1000 members, which is super exciting. When I took this snapshot earlier this morning is 999. But I approved one more member after disapproving to members. So we are at $1,000. And that’s super exciting. Again, more more brains to help answer your questions. So please do invite encourage people to do it. You can actually use the app sign it bu g at it Doug in post, which will link to the group and automatically spell it out for you once the slump it documentation users group. A little about me. I’ve been in it since 94. I founded Eureka process January 2017. And we do process consulting. And what I find is that almost all the processes and tools you work with the secret sauce has ended up in documenting what you decide without let everything falls apart, which is why I was so keen to work or Tracy and the it documentation users group. I felt this is really to give the most bang for the buck. We do have on the line with us. David Cuthbertson from square mile has also founded asset Gen, he has done hundreds of large scale documentation projects, using Visio using automation Visio in either writing some software to help populate that even faster for larger projects. And without further ado, since is a part two. I’m gonna let David give his 32nd intro and just launch into the cool content. David, the show is yours.

Unknown Speaker
Great. Thank you, Alan, just to share my screen. Just checking to see that as well. So let’s hopefully share and we should see a PowerPoint slide as they see that good. It’s great when the technology works.

Allen Edwards
First time here we go.

Unknown Speaker
Yep. Good. So let’s get into this sort of stuff. Just my screen a little bit. Good. So welcome, everybody. My name is Dave Cuthbertson. I’m not going to go through a full intro. We did a part one Back in July, where I explained some basic things to do with Visio, things that would save you a lot of time. Some of that involves linking Visio shapes to spreadsheet, so you don’t have to type anything, and a couple others. So I’m not going to go and repeat all of that content. But I will use some of those tips and things which I showed. But I will gloss through them because there is a bit more time that you can look at previously. And for those that are new, first of all, please go and look at Part One, because I’m not going to cover everything that’s in there. But as a result of that, I was asked to focus on network diagramming, specifically by some of the people who attended the first session. And so that’s what I want to focus on. And my background, is actually have a communications and electronics degree. So I actually started off in the networking world back in 1979, when I got my degree, and I’ve subsequently worked and been a network troubleshooter, I develop SNMP management tools and systems. I was installing Cisco’s kit in England as the only installer at one stage on contract. And so there’s a long history there and even ran a company doing outsourcing of people’s networks around voice and data networks of people. My day job, what do I do today is I developed the technology. We done this about 14 years with our asset Gen company, which is a software company. And square mile company provides services around the software, to help people with naming conventions, did a lot of work in the ITIL community and ended up chairing the actual group in the British Computer Society. But a lot of work with Visio, because we use Visio as a reporting tool effectively, on how you understand that infrastructure. And if anybody wants to look a little bit further, there are free Visio utilities, I’ll probably show some of them. So you can have for yourself, but they will save you time, because I developed them because I have a lot more diagrams to do the most people. And so a lot of what we do is helping people gather information about their environment, typically on a medium to large scale environment. So it could be 1015 X or it could be 10,000. x doesn’t really matter to us. With software, you can automate a lot. But you still have to have conventions and standards and data. So we try where possible to refer to existing frameworks, like ITIL, and Tia cobit, various other things to help understand. So what’s the best way to do this what is best practice in the management of change, and then the support of the systems around you, including the technical documentation of the infrastructure to underpins processes, you can see a load of logos there. Over the last 14 years, we’ve picked up quite a few customers. We’re currently running probably six, seven major projects in the US at the moment, some direct some through partners, where they’re going in reverse engineering infrastructure, so they can then plan and transition them in a big way. But it can be quite diverse, everybody uses roughly the same components in different ways. Sometimes it’s just the physical environments, but also we do the logical side. And so a good starting point. And I find for a lot of people is to say, everybody’s just using spreadsheets, quite a few people use Visio. Nobody’s ever had any training. But also, you sometimes have to summarize things in official verbal format word to then structure things. And of course, there comes a point where you then say, really, we should do this with the database. And so there are many different types of database driven systems to give us the advantages of audit trails, and various reporting mechanisms, and workflow and process. When you take a step back, and you look and say, I’ve got hundreds of spreadsheets and what thousands, is there a better way? As you start trying to combine them all? It’s always difficult doing a database because you then start realizing using different names. Yep. Hello.

Allen Edwards
so dangerous is getting it tested

Unknown Speaker
out. Okay. So when we actually start trying to combine information, what I found useful is to just break things down and say, Well, before you start doing anything, and this is where diagramming starts coming in. Realize actually you always going to need a different view of any component to support different information needs. There’s a commercial view, there’s a physical view, where are things the commercial view could be ownership and warranty, the logical view, and obviously, this is where networks come in. We want to do logical or physical network diagrams. But also we might want to have diagram virtual systems or cluster together to deliver applications and maybe even the business view, you know, this is how the electronic funds transfer system works. This is how baggage handling works. This is how our building management system works. And also we may want to separate for control purposes environments and say this is the production view. This is the Dr. view. This is the dev view. But actually, I need to understand which components are where. And the end result of all of this is, you end up with a lot of documentation. And so there are good ways to do things. And the first one is to recognize time, reduce the amount of data, but also use that data more effectively, to underpin and support these views. And effectively, what we’d do is what most people do is you draw a diagram to explain something. But if I’ve got a lot of buildings, I’ve got a lot of diagrams, I’ve got a lot of networks, I’ve got a lot of diagrams. So how do we join them together, and that’s what we’ll be covering this section focused around network mapping. As part of this, we may and at the bottom, you see two different symbols for a server, we may want to have physical symbols, where we’re doing things like rack layouts, or we want to show particular ports. Or we may not even care about that, we need a high level view, we just want a logical schematic, because I want to see what a firewall is, or what a router is, by the by the symbol itself, because I don’t recognize the various models and types of various components. So when we start, and we look and say, here’s a nice starting point, let’s draw a network diagram for this rack. So it’s easier to understand and looking at the wires and thinking, I have no idea what that means. What What is that, we start making some choices. And if you make the choices in the right way, in a particular method, it actually becomes quite easy. and easy way is to click it down and say, first of all, I need to define what I mean by buildings and rooms and racks. And then the next stage is then to say, what about the equipment’s that window acts so that I can give them identifiers. And I can say this server is connected to that switch. But actually, there’s a patch panel or two in the middle, which patch panel? Well, let’s give it a name. And this is my day job helping people get that naming convention, right? Because once you’ve got that, it’s relatively straightforward to deconstruct any environment into a few spreadsheets and load them into a database. So the scope could be, I want to do a logical diagram of those racks. So what level of detail do we need? Do we just need to do a logical view. So I don’t care about all of the individual cables, All I care about is the important stuff. And it could be I don’t care about all the end devices, I may just want to do the back. And what I’m going to try and do is just make sure you are aware of things that will really help. Some may be basic issues that maybe others as well. Okay, so the first things, organizing yourself. We may have different symbols, we may have properties under symbols. Typically, this is what we’ll get from a spreadsheet. We may have different types of links. And we may organize things in terms of groupings. So we may do different diagrams for the data center, over the Comms Room, but what we’re looking to see is we may group things together to make it easier to understand. So when we’re coming up files, think about what you call things. And this is just configuration management practices, give them names, based around buildings, site codes, and purpose as well. So they all organized themselves. So don’t call it network diagram of New York, call it New York network diagram. So we can see New York, Washington and other states and things. So that was simple stuff, but also about how we do versioning control. And we break those rules with our automated systems. Because actually, we don’t call them version one and version two. We use exactly the same name every time for the file, even when we update it. But we archive the original with the date and time. Because if you’ve opened up a diagram, maybe two months ago, and you want to look at a diagram, you want to open up the latest version of that, but you don’t know what the latest version is. So it’ll be fine. For more practical perspective, use the same name for the same file, but have an archiving system that then archives the old versions in case you want to reference them. But this comes down to organizing yourself. And this will apply to templates and stencils as well.

Unknown Speaker
I’ll start with templates and stencils. And the focus will be how do we organize ourselves, so we’re not. So we’re actually able to use Visio, rather than having to sort of cope with what it gives us. So let’s go straight into Visio. I’ll just start up. Here’s a blank Visio diagram. And what most people will do is they’ll go File, New, and then they’ll be presented with a series of options. And if I click the network options or categories, I’ll be presented with a number of templates. And we can see their different stencils and all sorts of things. And what Visio has a standard and if you have the office 365 some of these things you may think that looks new and the reason is, if you Have the office 365 version, there is constant new stuff being added. The old stuff you can see there, and I’ll just use what people may already be familiar with, which is the older versions. Let’s click, and you’ll get the option. First of all to say we’re going to be using metric or us units, as I’m based in Europe with normal use metric, but obviously, it doesn’t make a difference. But it is important that actually, you just use the same units all the time. So you don’t end up with printing problems. And also sizing issues as well. Normally, when we come to create something, we’ll have in this case, I’ve opened up the Visio template. And the visual template is opened up a page, in this case landscape. And we would drag a shape off the stencil. And in this case, this is one that’s representative of a server. And we will typically type something, I’ll just call it test. And as you can see, this has been set up to actually put the text below the shape. But that’s not always the case when we have components. That’s one of the things that Visio has is with a lot of its pre built stencils and shapes. If I do a right click on that symbol, those embedded data in there, which we can see at the moment, which you could fill in to make it easier to record things. And this can be filled in from a spreadsheet. But this is a bit of a pain. If you’re actually going to go to the Lincoln use spreadsheets, because you’ll start adding or ending up with conflicts. This is already a set here. But here for instance, I’ve got the manufacturer, but your spreadsheet might have the make or the supplier. And you’ve got things here like rooms, but you might have office, you might have additional data like customer. So one of the first things is with possible is to remove anything that’s unnecessary. So that then you use things. And you saw the shape data we had here. And there isn’t any consistency in Visio symbols. Because if I do a right click, and I go data, and we look at the shape data for that symbol, you can see that we have a whole lot of information. If I pick up something else, like say, what have we got here, a scanner and drag that across and drop that in, you can see the shape data for the scan is completely different. So I’d have to modify and add that. And every time I choose something different, I’m going to have different sets of data. So video camera doesn’t have very much. And a router doesn’t have the same as a server. So this isn’t very good from a control perspective, which is why it’s best that you don’t rely on physios inbuilt data, you actually create your own symbols. And you either have nothing or just the data that you want to have. Because otherwise, it just gets cluttered. And you missed the point of having all of this. If you choose manufacturer symbols they will have. So if I open up a stencil from the manufacturer, and I’ll just open up a Cisco switch or something like that. So Cisco switches, and I drag across a Cisco switch. So there’s a Cisco switch, you can see its data is completely different. It’s very specific to Cisco, it’s got its part number, and it’s got the numbers of ports and pairs of the things. But it’s not really very useful. And whatever the symbols that you have that like something else on that particular symbol there a C three k x nm one G. So for Gigabit Ethernet module, look at all the data that you’ve got there. And this is often, you know, just one of the things that’s in Cisco. So it’s got a whole load of information in it, which is actually more about a little module than it is about something more important, which is a whole switch. So the first lesson here is don’t rely on what other people have create your own conventions and standards. And it makes it simple. Otherwise, you’re coping with a lot of stuff. And I’ll show you different ways to get around this. And I’m not sure if anybody’s looked or tried using any of this data. But they’ll often find that lying on, she gives you a lot of work in its own right, it doesn’t simplify, just complicate things.

Unknown Speaker
Okay. The best thing, as I said, is to actually have nothing. And the reason for that is then we can link things to shape. So if for instance, I wanted to link this server here, and bring in information about its name, its IP address and other things. This is where I would do it. And this is what I covered previously. I’ll go to the data option at the top. I will go to bring in a custom import. Or you might have link data to shapes in one of the older versions of Visio. Let’s link to an Excel workbook due next, let’s select an Excel workbook. Here I have an inventory list. And I just stepped through the options to say which tab do I want to link to Do I want to filter out any columns or rows, give us identify and like the name of something. And if I finish, it will expose all of that data in here. So if I want to do our network diagram, and I want to have some information like IP addresses, and others, I don’t have to type anything, all I have to do is just drag this by doing a left click and hold, drag and drop it onto that server. And for now, just close this down, do a right click on the server, you’ll see that where it found a match, it’s put in the data. So it’s found that there was a match with manufacturer and IP address. And then where there wasn’t a match is then created its own things at the bottom. So here we have model number, which is what was in our spreadsheet, but in their terms, that maybe that should have been product number or part number or product description. So really, it’s best to get rid of all of that if you can. And so it will create things where needed. But what it does mean is good data is good diagrams, there’s a whole lot of stuff we don’t necessarily need. So the first question is, how do we get rid of information to make it easier for our diagramming. And this is the technique. So I’ll delete that server. I’ll go back to the same server. And drag this across. In the previous session, I showed how you could enable developer mode and developer mode, which is just a tick box and the advanced options. If we click on developer, you see these layers options here to be able to look and see if there’s any protection on the shape or any behavior. So for this shape here, I click on protection, the aspect ratio is protected. So if I try making this, why don’t you see how the aspect ratio is that I go to developer mode, I can undo the aspect ratio. And then it means I can make this thinner or thicker or size it whichever way I want. One of the other things when you go into developer mode, is you also unlock the internal shape sheet within each shape, which actually describes the symbol how it’s made up. So we do a right click on here, you’ll see there’s an option called show shape sheet, which only get if you’ve unlocked developer mode. Click on that. Effectively, what you see at the bottom here is a whole load of information, which you can then start to say, Oh, this defines what the width of the shapers and the some user defined cells, yeah, whatever they are, and their shape data. In fact, that shape data that looks like all of the different things that actually, I was seeing when we did a right click in the data. The reason I’m showing you this, and just a simple is, if you go into this area, and you do a right click, you can delete this whole section goes down the shape sheet window. And if I now do it, right click on Data. I have no data on there at all. So if I link to a spreadsheet, I only get the data, which I’m used to using, which has come out to my monitoring system, or my it glue system or whatever they may have. So if I go back, and I look at my sheet, so there’s actually a drag and drop this in onto the server. That’s the data I get. So this organizing yourself means don’t rely on videos, in built systems or manufacturer shapes. Just make it simple for yourself doing that. And you can use any visual image to create shape. So even if you don’t have a particular type of symbol, or manufacturer, or type of server or system that you want to use your network diagrams, it’s very easy to do it yourself. I’ll just fire up Google.

Unknown Speaker
Go to do a Google search for Cisco. Nexus 7000. As an example, assuming I don’t have any Visio shapes, I’ll just go to images. So there’s a whole load of images, switches and various other things. And if I want to use say, This one here is my symbol to actually show diagrams, the big Cisco switch. And the easiest and simplest way is to just use the snipping tool. Take a copy of that image, copy it, and then go into Visio and paste it. So there’s our image. One final thing to finish with, is to then just group it so that Visio knows it’s one single group. And now I can take this and drag this on top there. And now I have all the data in that symbol. So that should be able to then say I can now use real life images or photographs. Anything. So you can use Visio for more than network diagrams. But it’s worthwhile organizing yourself before you start. Because it makes it simpler. And it makes it easier to fill in the right sorts of data without any mistakes. Okay, so this is a very flexible tool to be able to do this. The next thing, of course, is, how do we do a diagram easily and quickly, while the best thing is to take anything that you stored, and you’ve spent a bit of time preparing yourself, and just save it in your own stencil. And it’s very simple to do, most people get a bit afraid of it, because they don’t understand. But all you have to do is go to more shapes. Yeah. And you say, let’s create a new stencil. This case, I’ll keep the same

Unknown Speaker
units metric. And what we then do is we just drag these across.

Unknown Speaker
Just drag that in and drop that. It’s called master two. And I just rename that and call that server. I’ll take this one here. In fact, I’ll just get rid of this thing called a data graphic. We’ll cover that later on. Let’s just clear that. Just drag it in that. I call that extra 7000. Okay, so now I can have things based around what customers have, or what we’re actually using for design. Okay, very simple to do. And David.

Allen Edwards
Yep. One tangent question. Yeah. As compared to Visio has all this power, have you tried anything, any other diagramming software, such as lucid chart, or smartdraw,

Unknown Speaker
I’m not really I’m originally this will came when I was using a package, which is no longer available called nippers, which came from a US company years ago. And the reason why we use Visio is because we can actually automate the update of those shape sheets. And we can draw diagrams and position everything automatically. And the vast majority of it, people use Visio in the corporate world, which is really our sort of target marketplace. I hate to say, I’ve come across other packages, and there’s web based versions and various other things. But often, the level of detail we’re dealing with is one where we need to use larger answer diagrams, the tools that people already use. And unfortunately, there isn’t the adoption, outside, you can save the Microsoft environments. I think I really should explore a little bit more because the world has changed. I’ve been doing things. But one thing we have is a lot of people said could you link this in with AutoCAD and produce diagrams in a similar way? The answer is, is too complex. It’s too difficult. And actually, the file sizes get too big. So actually, there is an element of choice here. It’s nice having symbols that look like devices. But there is the problems there. And the same I think probably also with other tool sets as well, they have their own flavors. What we’re doing here is we’re making Visio 2000s of times, automatically, I’m showing you how to do one. But really, what I want people to do is have lots of people do all the same things. What about itself, and others have more experience of using those other tools, that’s,

Allen Edwards
as I mentioned, in the chat to everyone, I’ve used the two that were mentioned, lucid chart and smartdraw. But I never really looked at the data driven side. I did a spreadsheet once in Visio to import data. But what you’re showing here, I don’t even know if those tools exist in other ones.

Unknown Speaker
The thing is, this shows a very mature product, just people don’t understand it. And all the things I’m showing you is not new, there’s functionality since 2000, Visio 2007. So I make a living out of teaching people how to use a tool. In fact, Microsoft has been a customer of mine, I’ve been teaching people how to do their data center floor plans and layouts for the romance, because it’s one thing to have the tool but to understand how to use it well. And it’s just focused for me. But you can see what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to actually be in control so that then I can have a standard which any of my team can use. And if I’m going to produce 1000 diagrams, I really want to have a standard template that’s already set up with the symbols, which is exactly what I need. So I get 1000 copies exactly the same thing. Because this thing is don’t use different symbols. Try and just use the same things. And you don’t need legends on diagrams, because everybody knows what that is. Because that’s the only way you represent the server with switch. So a lot of it’s about just simplicity of standardization. So before we go on any questions for anybody to feed into Alan, I’m not sure if any things in chat right now, but I can so I’m creating a stencil here. Now the next thing is, as part of my stencil I’m doing, I’ll be good, I’ll save it as I’m going along. And I’ll add things to this. So let’s just say this here, and I’ll just call it two. Alrighty, Doug one, then that means I can reuse it. But also, I can send it to other people, as well. And what I’ll do is, I’ll create some links that want to link a few things together. And so one of the great features of Visio is its connector option. And I’ll explain a little bit more about the connector to say for instance, I’ve got this connector here. And I want to use this to represent a copper networks, what I might do is I just pin this is how thick the line a little bit thicker. Right. And that will be a copper link, for instance. And if I just take a copy of this by doing Ctrl, C, and Ctrl V, I’m going to make this one red, I’d say this would be a fiber link. So that I’ve got a color coding for different things, I might have different color codes. For others, I might have squiggly lines, or something like that for wide area links, but just something that shows the difference. And I will now drag this link back in here. And I’m gonna have everything I need. I’ll just call it copper, we could call it data. It could be voice, it could be anything we’d like. And here we have fiber. And I’ll spell it the American way. So that I don’t get told off by the audience. What is the non american way? Probably the proper way. We should drag that on there. I would call it hyper like that. Yeah, then we could have a long conversation about how people in America have been trained to spell badly. And they get tested to make sure they sell badly. So we don’t have very much we still have we have some control over our own language here. But if you look at a lot of our literature, we use Americanisms because it just makes it easier. But it’s important to actually make sure that you can integrate data that you use common terms that you can see. And I can bring up any other symbols, I can use things that exist already. So I could take get again, something else I might want to use this firewall symbol to produce firewalls and things. If I look at this, there’s probably data in this already, which is different to the server, you think I wish it was all this assignment be nice. So the best thing is to get rid of it all. And if you remember from before, the technique is to right click, go to the shape sheet, and then find out where there is shape data. And just do a right click in there and delete the whole section. And that deletes all the data in one go. And now I can then take this and drag this onto my diagram. And I’m going to call this a firewall. You can also of course, put in things like you might want to change the size, you may want to change the default fonts. And in my case, I like to just try and make sure I spell it correctly.

Allen Edwards
So you’re building a template here. What would you call this section?

Unknown Speaker
I’m building a stencil. Okay, so what I’m building here is a collection of shapes, which will help me do diagramming which are consistent now, if I saved this, yeah. Okay, so now save that. And I close it. So let’s stop editing this to say that yes. And I just start again. So let’s just do a new diagram. Let me do a new blank drawing. Okay, so I’ve got no clutter, you’ll notice how we’ve got a portrait page. Because when we open up something new, it’s got to have a page size. So if I was doing floor plans, I was set scaling. But if I now want to start doing any diagramming, I can open up that stencil. Talking about so let’s just look at as I was I put it where did I put

Unknown Speaker
my shapes in other questions?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, too many different things, my shapes it duck. And so I don’t have any clutter, I can now go and start putting things on a page and drawing them and then linking them together.

Allen Edwards
So as we develop our own processes internally, we can build our own stencils so that a technician is always using the same shapes of the same data fields and colors and such. That’s right.

Unknown Speaker
And that means it’s simpler for them if you ask them to go and document a new customer site, or you’re planning a change to a customer site, and you have to create some document of what the net was going to look like. Just use the same things. But this is where we start getting this issue between the handover between project and operations teams. Just keep everything simple. Sounds so obvious. But what it means is you need somebody who has this It’s a bit about Visio, typically a subject matter expert. And to then say this is a good way of doing this is a good standard convention.

Allen Edwards
And we have about 10 minutes of content time left. Yep. So if anybody has questions, please get them out there. Is Steve’s here.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah. So the next thing we’re going to have is, how do we link things together. So what we have with this is, I’ve organized the shapes and the symbols, I can bring in data from different places. So I’m now going to bring in the original spreadsheet that we had before. So let’s bring in that spreadsheet, which was the inventory. I’ll just do Next, Next and Finish. And so this is where I can now link and put these in here. And well, that says, so far, well, I just put that as a router. But we can also bring in spreadsheets of connections as well. Though, this makes it a lot easier when we’re doing diagrams, to them, say that connection between these, let’s just drag and drop this on that link. If I close this down now, and we have a look, it now means but looking at the data, the link has the data of the ports, the cable IDs, the VLANs. And likewise, the devices have that. And what we show previously was how you can then create a data graphic that would then show all of that information, and how everything all comes together, just connect together that. So there’s a lot of different ways we can do this, I’ll just finish off by just putting in the data graphics. For those that haven’t seen that before, what we do is we define a way of bringing out the data so that then we don’t have to type anything. So we’re going to take the equipment name, just take this more fields. Let’s take the name of the equipment. And let’s put this as text. And there’s various types of text and things said that the previous one will, we’ll cover a little bit more, I’m going to use one here called heading three, which is sent a text, I’m going to put the name of the device above the shapes, so that all the devices will have their names above them. And I want to add a second item, which is IP addresses of the devices. And you can see any of the data that you see there can be displayed. As part of this. I’m just going to use the same thing again, filled, let’s put this in the center and below the shape. You think, why is he doing all of this because what it does is it then means that I now have the firewall with the IP addresses, and the switch for these IP addresses and other things, all there as part of this. So we can very quickly start doing diagrams. And then when we start using these techniques, what we end up getting towards is the sort of thing where we go to my diagram, where what I now have is I now have a lot of links, joining things together. But I can click on any link. And I have inflammation then there on the ports, the cards, various other things, because I can get that all from monitoring systems and tools, what the connections, you might have cable IDs, and on the actual devices themselves, I might have information. But this is the sort of things you can pull in. So if you organize yourself, well, it makes it very easy. But the best thing is to use your own symbols. And you can see on this diagram, I have a symbol set here, the stencils called network topology ports. So I have special connectors, I can drag across that already set with port names and other things. And this particular one here is the one we give away free. So you’re welcome to this if anybody wants it. But you can turn the ports on and off, just to make a little bit easier to hide things. Let’s hide all the ports or Let’s hide those ones particularly, let’s hide all ports. So different ways to show data. So as we’re doing our diagrams, really just look to see where do I have information so I don’t have to type anything. Or go back to the PowerPoint. What we’ve been covering now is how we would create a stencil and then the shape and the shape properties. You can see we can get from a spreadsheet. We’ll just go down to the next slide. Next slide. Yep. So should you use the physios own built symbols manufactures your own the answers in the long term, whatever’s the best and the quickest, but in the long term you’ll find using your own is always the best because you get so much clutter and you can optimize things, reduce the file sizes, but also reduce the options that people have.

Unknown Speaker
But you will want to do physical and logical diagrams. So having a spreadsheet or an infantry is very useful thing to be able to do. The next thing I’ll do is I’ll talk about how we connect shapes together. And because this is a bit that a lot of people misunderstand as to, why does Visio do things when we connect together? Because we’re always going to connect things together with network diagrams? And the terms we’re going to cover is dynamic and static glue. Does anybody currently on the link, ever heard of that? We’ve just come off mute. Has anybody heard of dynamic and static load?

Allen Edwards
I’ve heard the word dynamic and static was the last word,

Unknown Speaker
glue.

Allen Edwards
Um, yes, I have it is dynamic, where you drop the endpoint into shape versus on and a point on the shape.

Unknown Speaker
Sort of. So I try just to try. But the thing is, if you understand, then you’ll understand how to drive it. So let’s start with the basics. So we’ll start we’ll drag across a Pentagon. And we’ll have a five pointed star as an option. Just to explain, when you’re connecting these together, because this is important, when you’re doing diagrams, you want to show individual ports that connect to maybe an ISDN circuit, or maybe a broadband circuit or something ISDN. Yep, no, they still have it. And it’s often used out of band management. into boxes, it’s better than modems. But people still use modems. So the first thing is, is a connector. And if I just come to point at all, if I move my connector towards the shape, watch what happens, see how the whole shape goes green. Okay, and if I let go, that will connect the shape with what’s called dynamic glue. So you’re connecting shapes together. And if I take the other side, and I moved towards the Pentagon, and you see how that’s gone green. And if I let go, so that is dynamic glue. And what that means is, whenever I move shapes around, they will try and connect together at the nearest point between the shapes. So Visio will make a routing decision for you. So that’s really useful for doing logical diagrams. And so when you’re doing things, it means you don’t need some sort of worry about any particular points, it’s not very good if we’re doing specific ports. So what we have is the ability to do a thing called static glue. So that if I drag this off, and as I drag towards the shape, you’ll see how we have it green. But if I get closer to any of those little black dots, or those connection points, which you can define yourself, it will be static to that point, and Visio will not try and make a choice. So if I move the Pentagon around now, you’ll see how it’s always the bottom left leg of the star is always connected. In this way, I can then connect to a particular port on a switch or the power plug or something if I want to show exactly which port on a physical device. And likewise, at the other end, I have the choice of dynamic or static glue, so they go static here. These are now connected in the same places. So to show this in practice, let’s just bring in that Cisco stencil that we use previously.

Allen Edwards
This time before I wrap up section,

he has a question to throw in.

Unknown Speaker
Yep. Okay, so I, I just clicked on the one one open,

Allen Edwards
did mini rush and I am making mistakes.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah. So here I have my Cisco switch. If I bring in one of those connectors, move up here, zoom in. Watch what happens as I get closer to this. You see how this shape that Cisco provided already has a connection point in there. So you connect to a specific port and it will snap to that. Or if I go to the uplink ports, it will snap to that as well. So if I move this around, it will stay always connected to that particular port. However I route it. So if you understand that then means you can understand the difference between static and dynamic glue, and how you end up with problems. And when you’re laying out diagrams. To show that in practice, if I go back to this land diagram here, if I click on this link, you’ll see how it’s connected to the edge of the shape. And as I get closer, you’ll see that I’ve got these connection points on there. But I could also connect to the whole shape as well. Never connect to the shape but go to the center. But we want power though links for showing this. If I just move these around because of the static glue doesn’t look very good now does it? So anybody who’s doing network diagrams, I recommend that you get use our utilities, because we created a utility here called out connections that will look and create a little routine that will actually delete And move the connection points for you to then relay things out. So particularly where we have routing paths or various other things. So from a layout perspective, that saves a lot of time. And when you get to bigger diagrams, and you want to have lots of these links going between places, the layout takes a lot of time. So this is just a little bit just to give you an idea of connections and stencils, and how you can do them. And this data connector that you saw there, so that we give that away, we normally just populate these for free when we’re actually creating diagrams. But what you have to do is you have to filter out the information from your inventory lists, and transfer it to the diagram. So it saves time. And could be really quick, if you’ve already got the data, you can also export the information on a diagram out into a spreadsheet, if you do high level designs, and you then want an inventory list and the configuration by just typing things into data talked about. So if any questions come up?

Allen Edwards
I’m not seeing any. Um, I have a question that is a segue toward our wrap up. Yeah, mentioning things that you give away or that are free. Yep. Could you make sure to email those to me, and I sent you an email already asking. So I can include them in a follow up email as well. So they know how to get ahold of you are these?

Unknown Speaker
Yep, just to show you where you can get them. There’s different places. This is our website. And under here, you’ll see a thing called acid envisio. utilities, see those. And what we have there is the various utilities for doing data center floor plans, layouts, and others. One I’ve been showing you, for instance, say the network connector, we’ll click on this, you’ll see that we look description what it is, there’s a video that shows you how it works. And all you do is you just send an email to us on our contact page, that you go to this website, square mile systems or the asset Gen site. And we give them away free because we develop these for our own use as part of the projects we give to customers. And we keep adding new ones all the time. And basically, when I’m got fed up of laying things out or doing something that’s repetitive, I talk to my developers and say, there’s no better way of doing this. So these have all evolved for various reasons. So that’s where you can find things and sort of as part of sort of the rabbit, as we’re just getting towards the end, I wanted to cover that static or dynamic glue, so that you understand that you can make things work your way. But of course, you need to remember where you put those shapes and those connectors. But there is a limit to this issue of linking to spreadsheets, which is basically the transfer and refreshes automated, you can refresh from a spreadsheet with changes in IP addresses. But unfortunately, you can’t connect things together. So go and have a look and see what productivity features and things are there. But what I’ll do is I’ll just finish off and show you what you would have to do, because you can create your own applications to do effectively what our software does, because there is a toolkit that comes with Visio if you’re a programmer, but this is actually what you have to do to be able to do network diagrams in an automated way. The first thing you have to do is, and this is our our commercial software, is you have to say how big a diagram Do you want. So you choose a scope. It could be an individual device, it could be a room, it could be a building, or it could be a cabinet. So we’re going to start in this computer room and finish in this computer room. So this is what you would do manually from an imagery list. But you’re just using a database to filter it for you. On the right hand side. What do you want on the diagram? Do you want the servers? Do you want the switches? Do you want core switches, edge switches, and maybe routers here? And then we’re doing the bottom left? Here we’re doing a new diagram, we’re updating the existing one. I call this LAN. And then what Visio stencil Do you want to use? So that then you’re using the symbols, which are important to you? Because you may have different symbols for doing fiber networks, or for doing mobile phone networks, or offices. And then essentially, you then say, that’s the filtering. Now, can you not just create an inventory of everything that’s a core switch, which router? Can you work out the connectivity through all of the cabling infrastructure, and then draw the diagram for me, you’ll notice I didn’t click patch panels, because I may want to have all the patch panels to show the physical connectivity. But essentially what this application is doing is really doing what we would do manually, we would decide on a scope, we decided on a symbol set. And we then transfer the data to the diagram. As we’re laying it out. We still need to lay it out to make it more understandable. But what I’m doing here is a fair number of devices. And you’ll see is kind of end up like that whole diagram that we actually started with.

Allen Edwards
And while it’s while it’s publishing, we do have one question you can address later. Yep. Dan was just on the ask. In a website, and there were three different products Connect CES map and Visio. utilities, can you give us a super high level of the differences?

Unknown Speaker
Yep. This one I’m just using at the moment called Connect, it’s for doing physical infrastructure. So this is for doing data centers, networks, cabling, anything that you can touch this hardware related such as floor plans, networks and other things. The CES map is for doing application and service maps, where we’re trying to understand dependencies of maybe thousands of components. So what’s the business impact of this service. So there are different front ends because they both generate Visio diagrams, but it’s different types of data ones have physical side. And so like I mentioned last time, we’re midway through a project with New York City to do 2000 campus locations, which is all their schools. So we’ve got to do 2000 network diagrams. But we’ve also got two 2000, security diagrams, 2000, wireless access network diagrams. So that 6000 diagrams to do every week, and refresh. So this is how you do it, you choose a scope based on a school, but you need to have a stencil to start with. So if I take all of this, you can see why we developed this utility here to lay out the connections. Because when you do the automated things, Visio will lay them out on top of each other using dynamic glue. And then we’ve now created static glue to actually create the connection points. And it just calculates how many connection points you need, as part of all of this. So having done a diagram like that, all you do is you save that filter, and a filter template, and you run it again. And so you may give it a useful name like this particular building this particular site, this is the storage network, whatever, and you may have hundreds of these. So that then you can run a batch process every night and say, anything that goes on or in that building, that’s one of these, add it to the diagram or take it off. And we do the same approach for data centers and things, okay, for you to try and do this yourself, will be Visio can do this. And this is why we use Visio. Because it’s relatively straightforward. But you do need to have some Visio skills. But at least you’re aware of what Visio can do with just spreadsheets as well.

Allen Edwards
All right, so I do have to wrap this up. You’re ready. Yep. Late, on average.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah. But please, please look at Microsoft. And obviously, if there’s any other things, just as we’ve done with this, go back to Alan and say, if you found this useful, and you’d like to know more, I’ve gone to a level of detail I didn’t go to last time just focus on networks. But there are other types of diagrams as

Allen Edwards
well. Excellent. And I haven’t email off to you David to send me whatever links I will include them in the follow up email as well to all registered attendees, whether they made it or not today.

Unknown Speaker
Yep. I think he’s just just buy a book gonna have a look and see what I can do. And that was because to be honest, some stuff is just basic thing, anything that saves you time because time is money. But the issue here is how do we do it effectively? Yeah, thanks, Alan. Thanks for the opportunity.

Allen Edwards
My pleasure. And David is also occasionally on Facebook in the IT Doug forums. Our next webinar, which I hope to be ITW 2019, at nine is not quite decided yet. It will probably be the last Wednesday of this month. And we’re looking at it glue automation sticking with the theme of automation and perhaps it’ll be a panel discussion so stay tuned for that as Tracy and I get that documented. For those of you who may have gotten here a few links besides it Doug you can look us up just by typing it d u g in the Facebook search or FB comm slash group slash it Doug. This again, we were emailing out the video link but I will also always post these for free and publicly at Eureka process comm you can contact me directly and I’m going to send you all of David’s information that he wants me to include in this follow up email. Thank you all so much for attending. I will see you at the next one or online. Have a great one. Bye guys.

Here are the referenced resources from from David.

For the free utilities mentioned, you can go to
 the Square Mile website at https://www.squaremilesystems.com/products/sms-visio-utils/.  There are short videos of each module which explain how it works. When someone registers on their website contact form they send the download link so you can install and use the software. 

Their commercial software, AssetGen Connect (physical infrastructure) and AssetGen SysMap (logical and cloud infrastructure), is also on the website with videos. There is a product only website managed by their software team at www.assetgen.com 

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