Visio by DPTPB: Rant about original Nutanix Visio shapes

Feb 17,2017 update notes for Visio by DPTPB stencil collection, part 6

Nutanix has decided to make the original Visio shapes in-house and the results unfortunately look very much like that.

I’ve exchanged emails with the illustrator who is responsible for the Nutanix Visio shapes. This blog post is not a personal attack against him. I get that he has limited budget and time available for Visio shapes and has done reasonable job with what ever little he has available. Without his work there wouldn’t be any Nutanix shapes.

But there is always room for improvement and my hope is that someone high-up in Nutanix ranks will be notified and some additional time and funds will be allocated towards improving Nutanix Visio shape collection.

Vector vs JPG

We have a fundamental “artistic” disagreement with the Nutanix shape developer. Normal Visio shapes are vector based and no matter how much you scale up/down the shape, it will remain sharp and crisp. Most vendors publishing Visio shapes get this and are using vector based shapes to build their Visio stencil collections. Unfortunately the Nutanix illustrator won’t budge on using rasterized images instead of vector based shapes as a base for Visio shapes. Although the base rasterized images are quite high quality images, these shapes won’t zoom as nicely as any vector based shape would, contain unnecessary elements like shading and are little bit fuzzy in general.

Modular shapes

Furthermore Nutanix shapes are not modular. For example a NX-3060 chassis can have one to four nodes. Nutanix NX-3060 shape is just one chassis filled with four nodes. If you need three-node NX-3060 shape you are out of luck, since there is no three-node shape nor can you remove nodes from master shape. To work-around this issue, I’ve made a “filler” shape with connection point that aligns with IPMI ports. Just pull the filler shape on top of existing four-node shape, it will lock-on to IPMI port and you have “masked” one of the nodes. As a result you will have a three-node shape or NX-3360 shape in case of NX-3000 series. (With Nutanix, the second number in model number indicates the number of nodes housed in a chassis/block)

Modularity could be extended to adapter cards, some Nutanix models allow more than one 10GbE NIC to be used. There are different NICs available: Quad-port sfp+ 10GbE, Dual-port sfp+ 10GbE, Dual-port 10GBaseT and a 40GbE adapter ( for high-end NX-8150, more decisions to be made). Since current Nutanix Visio shapes are not modular, you cannot change/add/remove adapter cards in drawings. For now my shapes come with what ever adapters there are already in place in the Nutanix original shape.

Super Micro Visio Shapes

Native Nutanix hardware is made by Super Micro, they have quite nice vector based Visio shapes for their generic Non-Nutanix hardware (some of the older generation shapes can be found by googling). Nutanix shapes might already exist in Super Micro shape library or it would be very easy for Super Micro to make required changes for Nutanix specific shapes. Hard to tell since the Nutanix illustrator refused to explore/use Super Micro shapes and Super Micro does not publicly distribute their shape library. Super Micro shape collection is only available for registered partners trough Super Micro sales. I’ve emailed Super Micro sales, but won’t hold my breath while waiting for the response. Since I don’t work for a Super Micro partner, they are unlikely to respond. (to give some kudos: their tech support replied within few hours, but the sales guys have been silent for few days).

To prove my point

The featured image of this blog post is a heavily scaled jpg / png image. As you can see, it doesn’t zoom very nicely, most details are lost and the picture is very fuzzy.


As a comparison a version of the same image that was scaled in Visio and not as jpg


The Nutanix shape above is based on rasterized image, quite good quality, but contains many elements like shading which might be good for illustration purposes, but not so for documentation purposes.

Below two examples are Super Micro shapes, which are vector based. Much more crisp and clear shapes, no unnecessary elements like shading, good for documentation purposes.


Example below where all connection points are highlighted (tiny yellow circles). Modular nature of the shape is evident with adapter slots, which have connection points for matching adapter shapes.



Some ideas for shape development

Modularity could be extended even further by using Visio “smart” shape features combined with “shapesheet” magic. For example a NX-3060 series shape could be just one shape.

  • Select number of nodes in use from “Shape Data” window
  • With some additional coding, unused nodes could be hidden/masked
  • Possible additional fields in “Shape Data”
    • Per node HW config
      • Adapters
      • CPU
      • Memory
      • HDD size / count
      • SSD size / count
  • Shape label could be linked to data and modified by using pull-down menus in “Shape Data” window

 Final words…

before I step down from my soap box: I get that disruption is in the DNA of every Nutanix employee and finding new ways is fundamental to them, but in this case they have forgotten one important ingredient of the disruption recipe: BETTER way of doing things. Using rasterized images like jpg’s or similar is not BETTER way of making Visio shapes, it is maybe just easier way.

To me this is somewhat similar than insisting of using imperial bolts with metric threads, it might work in some situations, but is fundamentally wrong and will cause problems in the long run. As a standalone system imperial or metric system is just fine, but when you combine them in wrong way, bad things start to happen. Same goes with jpg images and Visio, they are not marriage-made-in-heaven and never will be.

I really, really hope that Nutanix will wise up and outsource Visio shape development or work with Super Micro to use their vector based shapes. While waiting for that to happen, I won’t put too much effort into fixing what is already broken and will make minimal changes to current shapes. Don’t expect to see all the bells and whistles that can be found in other DPTPB Visio shapes.

4 thoughts on “Visio by DPTPB: Rant about original Nutanix Visio shapes

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