Many companies use Visio to draw network diagrams and data center cabinets and racks. Network designers have been able to use custom Visio shapes to design them for many years. There is a Nexans product library to select the correct shapes, and to create a bill of quantities for pricing.
bVisual ltd have been Visio partners since their formation in 1998, when their founder, David Parker, was providing data visualisation consultiancy at merchant banks in the city of London. David was linking large floor seating layouts; dealer desk equipment layouts; data centre floor plans and network rack elevations in Visio, sometimes with embedded CAD, to data.
A project manager from another consultancy group could see the power of integrated Visio and data, and when he left to join Nexans Cabling Systems (Click here ) asked them how they produced their building cabling system design drawings. He was shown how they were laboriously pieced together in Microsoft PowerPoint, so he introduced them to David, who went over to Belgium to demonstrate how a dimensionally accurate diagram could all be done more simply using Visio, and that a Bill of Materials could be extracted automatically, direct from the drawing. The Nexans manager whose job it was to create the pre-sales network diagrams could immediately see the possibilities, but his bosses were not immediately convinced of the need for their network equipment shapes to be available in Visio. Eventually, it was decided that a limited library would be created for their LANmark range of equipment … just to see if there was any interest shown. The download was called Nexans Visio Template or NVT for short.
The first release, comprising of a single stencil and a template was released in late 2003, for Visio 2000 and 2002, as a free download from the Nexans website (see Click here ). There were over 500 downloads in the first 3 months! The bosses at Nexans now agreed that there was indeed interest in providing smart shapes in Visio.
An updated version was soon provided for Visio 2002 and 2003, and regular release were made to add new product ranges and to accommodate new versions of Visio. By the start of 2012, the single stencil had become eight stencils of dimensionally accurate, scaled SmartShapes, with a total of 285 different product codes spread over 83 masters, and a further 16 pseudo 3D masters. This latest version supports Visio 2007 and 2010. The current version of NVT can be used to create professional rack layout diagrams and can export the bill of materials to a Microsoft Excel file for costing. The latest version is numbered 3.2, and also includes 3D drawings of Nexans products for use in schematics or presentations. The Visio libraries of intelligent drawing shapes cover all LANmark, LANsense, EMAC and LANconnect systems.
This useful support tool enables system designers to quickly and easily create professional drawings of the cabling system distributors (FD, BD, CD in Buildings / MD, ZD, EO, ENI in Data Centres). Presented together with quotations, these drawings enhance tender documentation and thus improve the chances of success.
In addition, the quotation drawings can be switched into as-built diagrams with asset, serial numbers and network names, thus allowing them to be linked to a variety of data sources, such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, SQL server, SharePoint lists or any OLEDB data source.
NVT features include
- Product Selector Tool that provides viewing by product line, range, part number or stencil
- Summary and detailed BOM export to Excel
- Custom page with border and title block that provides easy selection of a number of standard page sizes, orientations and scales.
- Smart Master shapes that provide easy change of selection of similar products
- “Add more” option to fill up products with their components or racks with similar items
- “Move” option to move rack components a specified number of U positions.
- Direct hyperlinks to data sheets for each product in any of six different country websites
- Document explorer of racks, with items at U height positions, with cards and ports
Together with NVT 3.2, users also get the NVT 3D tool including a specific template (different drawing scales) and a stencil providing 3D drawings of the main Nexans cabling components (cabinet, some patch panels, LANsense analyser, connection lines,..).
The solution is provided as a free download from Nexans website, and there have been over a thousand downloads of NVT per year, spread over twenty different countries world-wide, providing cabling system designers and network infrastructure engineers with simple to use, vendor-specific, accurate Visio shapes that are compatible with all the other network shapes in Visio Professional.
Coded in collaboration with VisualSignals Click here
Watch David Parker talk about this solution on YouTube