I was thinking about better ways to draw and manage equipment rack shapes in Visio for Six.  Equipment racks and their components are interesting objects to create in Visio because there are probably over 50,000 different permeation’s of the same thing when you consider the different manufactures, different families of products within the manufacturer, number of rack units and different depths.  This is a perfect task for Visio because it would be almost impossible to draw and manage 50,000 separate objects.

In the past we have created a single rack shape for a family of products like the Middle Atlantic WRK series because the only difference between each member of the family was the height of the rack.  This was an efficient way to do at the time but it still meant creating a single shape for each family.  In Middle Atlantic’s case that would have been about 14 different Visio shapes that would need to be created.  Multiply the number of rack families by the number of manufacturers and that is probably around 500 slightly different equipment rack shapes.  Better than 50,000 but still a lot of Visio shapes to create and manage.  I wanted a single shape to be able to ACCURATELY represent ALL* of the possible equipment racks out there.

In order to build this shape I had to think about the similarities of equipment racks, not the differences.  So what do the all equipment racks have in common, dimensionally speaking?  Well, they all have 19” (19.125”) as the interior width.  They all have a specific number of useable rack spaces to mount equipment (rack units).  They all have a specific height and width.  So dimensionally speaking all EQ racks are the same except for the size of the top and bottom pieces, the number of rack spaces and the overall height and width.  Since 19” is a constant the only dimensional data I need is the overall height, width and specific number of rack units to draw any equipment rack in the world*.

This is how the math works.  To get the sides to dimension correctly I have to take the overall width of the rack minus 19” divided by 2, that number will draw the sides.  To get the top and bottom pieces I take the overall height dimension and subtract the number of rack units expressed in inches (1 RU = 1.75”) divide by 2 to get the top and bottom dimensions.  With those three numbers and this magical shape I can create ANY* equipment rack from any manufacturer and it will be dimensionally correct.

Three different equipment racks from three different manufacturers were created from a single D-Tools/Visio shape.

The best part is that you do not have to wait for SIX if you want/need this shape.  It is available to all D-Tools users now.  Just hit me up on on the D-Tools Facebook page.


*19”, side to side and top to bottom symmetrical.