The aim of a technical documentation is to ensure that your users can flawlessly access your product and are able to use it with no problems. The network documentation tool helps you do exactly that. If a user cannot understand the instructions well and quickly, he may end up giving up on your product.
Network documentation tools have become necessary as the network applications that support the network architecture have become complex. The network administrator must somehow be made aware of the intricacies of those applications to better manage and support those applications. Network documentation tools are one way to accomplish this task. So what are some best network documentation tools? We will answer that in this article.
If you are looking for best tools to create and manage your software documentation, this post will be of great help. I have prepared a list of 12 top network documentation tools that can help you in every step of documentation process – writing documentation, creating interactive documentation or facilitating user’s onboarding with help of network application.
Confused about which network documentation tools are the best? I was too. The truth is, there are so many network documentation tools these days its no wonder we’re lost. This is why we created this list of best network documentation tools to help you make the right buying decision.
What should you look for in network mapping tools
We reviewed the market for network diagram topology software and analyzed the tools based on the following criteria:
- A range of options that include monitoring tools and graphics editors
- The ability to demonstrate different device types with specific icons
- The option to amend generated network maps
- Layout options, such as connections, site, and world views
- Export capabilities to integrate layout images into presentations and documents
- An opportunity for a cost-free assessment through a free trial or a demo system
- Value for money that is provided by a tool that has additional capabilities
With these selection criteria in mind, we have assessed available network mapping tools, including software for all the major operating systems.
The best Network Diagram Software, Topology Software & Mapping Tools
Some of these software packages even automatically update your network topology map when new devices are added or removed from the network, which really cuts down on manually having to remove them yourself.
Below you will find an Extensive list of the Top (some of which are FREE) Network Diagram Software packages available for download and trials.
A brief overview of the software is listed below to give you a better understanding of what it is capable of doing.
SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper (formerly known as LANSurveyor), is one of the Best, if not the best, diagramming tools on the market right now, especially for the Price you are paying compared to Microsoft Visio.
Built-in network scanning Wizard and diagramming allows for jump starting your drawings and automatic detection of new devices and changes on the network make this tool indispensable, especially with support for extensive discovery protocols and methods including SNMP, ICMP, WMI, CDP, VMware® and Microsoft® Hyper-V®, along with many more.
This tool automatically builds network maps from single scans and populates them with industry specific icons and clipart, along with providing reports for VLANs, subnet scanning, switch ports and more.
You can also exclude certain IP ranges and Subnets as needed through the Wizard. At this point, you can Group components by Roles, Vendor, Machine Type, Location, Subnet, VLAn or unidentified Nodes.
Added functionality, such as viewing only certain Layers are an added bonus for further detailed views.
You can then export your maps to PDF, PNG, Visio (.vdx file format) and even Orion® Network Atlas, along with exporting to SharePoint and other collaboration tools. PCI Compliance reports can also be exported out of this software quickly and effortlessly.
- Uses auto-discover for automated mapping, great for larger more complex networks
- Uses multiple protocols to identify network devices, ICMP, SNMP, WMI, and CDP
- Designed to work in virtual environments and supports both VMWare and Hyper-V hosting
- Can build static maps and include devices from your network for capacity planning and testing
- Would prefer a longer trial period
SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper is our top pick for network diagram, topology, and mapping software because this system takes care of all of the work for you. You don’t need to search through your network for details about your network devices and how they link together because the autodiscovery function in SolarWinds does that for you. You don’t even need to update your topology maps because SolarWinds periodically rescans your network, spots changes, and updates the map for you.
Download: Start 14-day Free Trial
OS: Windows Server
Auvik is a cloud service that offers network monitoring and management. At the heart of the Auvik system is a network discovery and topology mapping service. As it is hosted in the cloud, the Auvik system isn’t restricted to one site. It can map any network anywhere as long as you give it access.
Another advantage of the cloud location of this software package is that it can be accessed from anywhere. This enables large businesses to centralize their network monitoring service and small businesses to let a single network technician track performance while away from his desk. The dashboard can be accessed from any device that has an internet connection.
The initial scan of the network creates a device inventory. This forms a menu for ongoing device monitoring and it is constantly updated.
The network topology map is drawn up automatically from the device information contained in the inventory. So, when a change occurs on the network, it is reflected in an updated inventory and a redrawn topology map.
Auvik is a SaaS platform that is delivered from the cloud so its dashboard can be accessed from anywhere through any standard Web browser and it will document and map any network to which it is granted access.
- Remote access to networks from the cloud
- Autodiscovery of network devices
- Network topology mapping
- Continuously updated inventory and map
- No software inventory features
Price: Auvik is available in two editions: Essentials and Performance. The Performance plan has more features and so is more expensive. However, Auvik doesn’t publish its price list, so you have to contact the company and request a quote.
Download: Get a 14-day free trial.
Datadog Network Performance Monitor is one of a list of infrastructure monitoring tools available from Datadog. The Datadog platform is a SaaS system, so you access the dashboard through any standard browser from anywhere. The system is able to monitor any network and can also extend its monitoring capabilities out over the internet to cloud resources.
A key feature of the Network Performance Monitor is an automated device discovery system. This runs constantly, not just when you first create an account on the service. IT will spot any changes in your network and automatically update its network inventory. The service also draws up a series of network visualizations, based on the inventory. This is a live service, so any changes detected by the discovery module are instantly reflected in the network topology maps.
The network maps are interactive and you can query each node for statuses by hovering your pointer over it, or click through to a detailed status screen.
Price: Datadog Network Performance Monitor is a subscription service, priced at a rate per host of $5 per month when paid annually or $7.20 month to month.
This service pairs well with other Datadog modules, such as the Network Device Monitor or the Infrastructure Monitor.
- Has one of the best interfaces for network mapping
- Uses live network mapping to pull in new devices, and reflects changes in the network right away
- Features data flow analysis to help administrators understand dependencies as well as performance metrics between devices
- The subscription model makes Datadog accessible to any size business
- Would like to see a longer trial period
ManageEngine OpManager has an automatic network mapping utility built into its network monitoring capabilities. As well as monitoring networks, this system monitors servers and some applications and services. Among the services that this monitor will supervise are virtualizations and it maps the virtual infrastructure as well.
The mapper in OpManager creates network topology maps on demand. The information that these maps are based on comes from the network inventory. That inventory is constantly updated with periodic network scans. That means the topology map that you see is always based on the latest version of the network.
The topology mapper is able to present the network in a number of different formats. Here is an example of a layer 2 map, which only shows the switches on the network.
There are other layouts available. The service can plot a WAN on top of a real world map. It can show a 3D image of the office building or a floor plan with the network and all connected equipment shown. It is also able to present a rack view.
ManageEngine OpManager is a software package that is available for Linux and Windows Server
- Supports network and server monitoring capabilities built into the topology map
- Has an option to simulate and track physical connections, great for messy switches and larger complex networks
- Uses both Ping and SNMP to discover devices, making it more thorough than some smaller tools
- Maps are automatically redrawn when a device changes, keeping it up to date and accurate every time it is viewed
- Available on both Linux and Windows
- Is a feature-rich tool that requires time spent with the product to fully learn all of its features
Price: OpManager is available in four editions:
- Free for up to three devices — $0
- Standard starting at a price to monitor 10 devices — $245
- Professional starting at a price to monitor 10 devices — $345
- Enterprise starting at a price to monitor 250 devices — $11,545
Download: Get a 30-day free trial
Domotz is a cloud-based service that offers network monitoring for LANs and can unify the monitoring of several sites. It also offers a multi-tenant architecture that makes it suitable for use by managed service providers (MSPs). The system constantly polls network devices and generates a network map from the information that it gleans.
The Domotz system installs an agent on the monitored network. This acts as a data gatherer and uploads that information to the Domotz server for processing. Domotz creates a network asset inventory from that data and then draws up the network map.
The information that helps compile the network map is also displayed as status reports. It is also stored for demand analysis and capacity planning.
You can examine the Domotz system with a 14-day free trial.
Compatibility: As a SaaS package, you access the Domotz system through any standard browser. The package will download an agent onto a server on your network and this process is managed by the Domotz interface.
- Useful for centralizing the monitoring of multiple sites
- Suitable for managed service providers with a multi-tenant architecture
- Uses SNMP to poll network devices for status reports
- Creates a constantly updated network inventory and map
- Monitors physical, virtual, and wireless networks
- No endpoint agent for macOS
Price: Domotz is a subscription service and the standard plan is called Pro, with a rate of $21 per network per month. This is a flat rate and applies to networks of all sizes. An Enterprise plan is a custom package and is priced by negotiation.
Faddom is an on-premises software package that performs a range of discovery and mapping functions. It can be used to create network topology maps and application dependency maps.
The discovery process creates an asset inventory, listing details of each encountered device. That inventory forms the reference base for a topology mapper in the package. Each node on the map is clickable and leads through to the device details page.
The discovery process repeats automatically and so spots any changes made to the network. Those changes get reflected in the inventory, which automatically updates the network topology map. The map can also be used for ongoing system monitoring. The service provides live statuses on device health and network traffic flows.
Compatibility: The software bundle for Faddom includes a custom VM, so it can run on any operating system as a virtual appliance.
- Can be used for network mapping or for identifying application dependencies
- Provides a console for live network performance monitoring
- Includes network traffic flow monitoring
- Creates a hardware inventory, which is kept constantly up to date
- Creates a software inventory to aid patch management and license management
- No SaaS package available
Price: There are two editions with scalable pricing according to the number of nodes that you want to monitor. For 100 nodes, the Basic edition costs $150 per month and the Standard edition costs $600 per month. Faddom is available for a 30-day free trial.
7. ConceptDraw Pro – best features overall
ConceptDraw Pro is a very versatile Business diagramming and drawing tool that doubles as a network diagram tool as well.
Because of its extensive menu and icon layout, it is Very Easy to use due to its Drag-n-Drop functionality, making this software easy to learn and use on a daily basis with very little training.
What are the different types of network diagrams?
There are two types of network diagrams. These are physical and logical. A physical network diagram shows the hardware in the network and how it connects together. A logical network diagram is a schematic that can include non-fixed links, such as “the internet” represented as a straight line.
There is no denying the fact that creating an API documentation tool is one of the most challenging paths in programming. This is because you need to understand how to read other people’s code, how to look at all the layers of a program and then merge in the new ones that you have created for your installation. Additionally, you also need to be able to simplify and organize this information, so that others can use it. This adds up to quite a complicated situation where carrying out, managing and inspecting all the nitty-gritty details becomes a daunting task.
Network documentation is the practice of keeping a record of changes, such as hardware or software, to a computer network. This may be in the form of network diagrams or flowcharts that document physical or logical network elements or data information flow, respectively.