The place to start when diagramming a network is with the physical topology. Both Visio Standard and Visio Professional include shapes for linear (straight) bus, star, star-wired (token ring), dual ring (FDDI), and linear bus Ethernet topologies. The topology shapes all work in a similar manner. You drop them on the drawing page first. Then you add the nodes you want to display and drag them into approximate position around the topology shape. To connect them, drag a yellow control handle from the topology shape and glue it to a blue connection point on another shape, as Figure 14-4 shows. The handle turns red when it's glued.
Figure 14-4. To connect nodes to a network, drag a yellow control handle from the topology shape to a connection point on the node. When you point to a control handle, the pointer changes to a four-way arrow to show that you can drag it.
Depending on the version of Visio that you have, topology shapes are located on the Basic Network Shapes, Basic Network Shapes 3D, or Logical Symbols stencils.
Network shapes are designed to connect and stay connected as you drag them around the drawing page. They stay connected because glue keeps them that way. It's possible (and quite common) to drag connecting lines without gluing them. Usually, they look fine on the page and print as expected. However, it doesn't take any longer to glue shapes, and it certainly makes them easier to rearrange later. For example, when you move a workstation shape that's glued to a topology shape, the connecting line moves as well—and stays connected. Figure 14-5 shows how to glue shapes together.
Figure 14-5. Visio tells you when you're gluing shapes; a red square around a point shows that the line will be glued to the point. In addition, a ScreenTip appears when you position the mouse over a point that you can glue to.
What if you want to attach more than eight nodes to a topology shape? All the topology shapes include eight control handles. The quick and dirty way to get more connections is to drag a second topology shape on top of the first one, and then use the second shape to connect more nodes. You should do this only after you have connected the first topology shape to its devices. A downside of this method is that your diagram now includes two shapes that in reality represent only one bus or ring, and if you generate reports based on the diagram, you could get inaccurate results.
There are a couple of different ways to represent connections, such as the coaxial or fiber-optic cable between devices in a network. You can always draw them using the Line tool or Pencil tool, which is a quick way to represent network connections. To draw connections, click the tool you want on the Standard toolbar, and then draw from a connection point on one shape to a connection point on another. If you connect shapes this way, you won't be able to represent the connections in any reports that you create for the diagram, unless you add custom properties to the lines.
Visio also includes several shapes that you can use to connect network nodes, as Figure 14-6 shows. The shapes are designed to provide different routing behaviors and other attributes that you don't get by drawing connections with the Line tool.
Figure 14-6. You can connect devices in a network using these and other connector shapes, which appear on both the Basic Network Shapes and Logical Symbols stencils.
The Basic Network Shapes stencil contains a variety of connecting shapes. Here are some of your connecting options:
For details, see "Laying Out Shapes Automatically."
If you're using the Connector tool, the Dynamic Connector shape, or one of the line connector shapes to draw lines between network shapes, you might want to review the information about connections and glue in Chapter 3. This is particularly good advice if you're hoping to take advantage of the Lay Out Shapes command, which is powerful but can have unpredictable results.
For details about connector shapes, see "Adding Connectors to Your Diagrams."
When you start a diagram with the Basic Network Shapes template, Visio sets up a drawing page automatically that includes layers you can use to organize shapes. You may not think this is particularly useful, but if, for example, you want to see alternative views of your network based on manufacturer, you can work with layers to do so. By default, Visio creates several manufacturer-specific layers as well as the Network and Connector layers.
As you drag shapes from the network stencils onto the page, they are added to the Network or Connector layer. You can choose to add shapes to the manufacturer-specific layers, and you can create new layers. Layers, however, are stored with a drawing page, not with a shape. If you insert a new page, it does not include the manufacturer layers. It might include the Network or Connector layer, however, which is added to the page when you add a shape that's assigned to that layer. Confusing? Perhaps, but the bottom line is that layers are useful for hiding and showing parts of a network or for selectively printing shapes by manufacturer.
To see the layers that are already included with your network diagram, choose View, Layer Properties. The Layer Properties dialog box lists the layers that have been created for the current page, as Figure 14-7 shows.
Figure 14-7. Visio assigns network shapes to layers by manufacturer, which allows you to work selectively with all the shapes assigned to a particular manufacturer.
For details about all the ways you can work with layers, see "Controlling Shapes with Layers."
The sections that follow summarize key information for working with layers in network diagrams.
To take advantage of the organizational possibilities that layers provide, shapes in a diagram must be assigned to a layer. Most network shapes are already assigned to either the Network or Connector layer. These assignments are maintained when you select a new layer assignment. That is, a shape can be assigned to more than one layer.
Follow these steps to assign a shape to a layer:
You can view a list of the diagram's layers and the shapes assigned to each in the Drawing Explorer window. When you assign shapes to manufacturer layers, the Drawing Explorer provides a quick equipment list. Follow these steps to view a list of the diagram's layers:
If nothing happens, your drawing contains no layers. Otherwise, Visio lists all the layers on the page, as Figure 14-8 shows. If you expand a layer, you can see all the shapes assigned to it.
Figure 14-8. The Drawing Explorer window lists all the layers on a page and all the shapes assigned to a particular layer.
You can keep track of equipment in a network diagram by assigning numbers to shapes. Visio can automatically number shapes, as Figure 14-9 shows, and provide you with options for the style of the number. You can also specify numbering options before you add shapes to the drawing page. That way, they'll be numbered automatically as you add them.
Figure 14-9. You can automatically number devices, nodes, or other shapes in your network diagram.
The Number Shapes command gives you several numbering options. You can
Visio numbers the shapes in the order you specify. If you don't specify an order, shapes are numbered from left to right and top to bottom. You can choose a different order, however, including back to front, which is based on the shape's stacking order (the order in which you dropped them on the page), or the order in which you select them.
To number shapes, follow these steps:
Figure 14-10. With the Number Shapes command, you can number devices sequentially as you add them or after you add them.