Technical drawings are a valuable tool for presenting complex information. They offer a visual way to display data that might not make sense if presented in table form. Architectural diagrams are a specific type of diagrams, which differ from things like bar charts, line diagrams, and pie charts. In this article, we will examine how to draw technical architectural diagrams that enlighten the viewer and offer useful information in an easy-to-digest format.

What are Technical Architecture Diagrams?

In simple terms, technical architecture diagrams offer an overview of how different components in a system fit together. They can be used in many different sectors, including construction and engineering, but are common in the world of IT.

Technical architecture diagrams help businesses and stakeholders see how systems fit together. This can help when the business is considering an upgrade from one system to another. Think of it as having a bird’s eye view of your IT infrastructure.

Architecture diagrams is an umbrella term: there are different types of technical architecture diagrams for different digital solutions, including DevOps, deployment, integration, and application. The larger and more complex a system is, the more value a technical architecture drawing has. A well-designed architecture diagram illustrates how information flows. It also highlights any constraints that might be an issue. Annotations will be included to provide more information.

There are software solutions that are designed to help you create technical architecture diagrams. These are compatible with recognized methodologies such as Data Flow Diagram. Software tools like this are useful when teams are collaborating on a project, as comments can be added, and diagrams exported as image files for use in presentations.

How to Draw Useful Technical Architecture Diagrams

How you draw a technical architecture diagram will depend on the type of diagram you need.

  • DevOps architecture diagrams are typically used for projects like app development. They help facilitate the processes involved, specifically where improvements can be made.
  • Deployment architecture diagrams are useful when systems and applications are being upgraded. A diagram will help address such questions as how many availability zones are needed and where instances should be deployed.
  • Integration architecture diagrams are used when external systems are being integrated into an internal system. For example, in the travel sector, agents use different systems to book flights, hotels, and take payments. Systems from different partners will often need to be integrated into one system so they can be used more effectively. An integration architecture diagram is very useful in this regard.
  • Application architecture diagrams can assist when systems are being upgraded, replaced, or merged with other systems, so they are not dissimilar to integration architecture diagrams. They are helpful when different applications are in separate containers and need to be merged for use on one platform. Questions such as what types of applications and what are their dependencies can be addressed in an application architecture diagram.

To create useful diagrams, which actually help the reader, it is important to select the right type of diagram for your needs. Once you have that ironed out, read on.

Shapes, Lines, Colors, and More

Shapes are an important feature of technical architecture diagrams and can work great for your home. You can use squares, circles, triangles, rectangles, or whatever else is available in the software solution you choose (if that is your preferred way to create a technical architecture diagram; it’s perfectly okay to draw on a whiteboard!).

It is important to be consistent when using shapes. Mixing and matching shapes will cause confusion and make it very difficult to interpret the diagrams you draw, which defeats the whole objective. Whether you decide to use a box or a circle, always document what you use and why. Be consistent and use the same shape for each element in the diagram.

Be consistent with arrows too. These are used to denote dependencies between different elements, as well as the flow of data. Annotate arrows so it is clear what the relationship between different elements is. One line could mean two or more things, such as an implementation and a dependency, so annotation is critical for the meaning to remain clear.

Think about the border you use. Dashed lines might have a different meaning to a dotted line, or a straight line. Again, annotations are necessary to avoid confusion.

Technical architecture diagrams don’t need to be monochrome. Color can add an extra layer and make it easier to differentiate between different elements. However, there is a caveat here. Color choices must be logical at all times. Don’t add color for no good reason. Use it to emphasize different sections of the diagram, to draw the eye, and highlight something you want the viewer to see first. Be consistent in your color choices and annotate the diagram so it is clear why some elements are one color and others a different color.

Add legends and other annotations to the diagram, so things like acronyms are clear. If the data you are working with is extremely complex, consider creating multiple diagrams for different systems. This might make it easier for stakeholders to grasp the different viewpoints. Be sure to remain consistent on all the points above. Finally, consider using diagramming software if your diagrams will undergo multiple iterations and need to be circulated among many different groups. This makes it easier to keep track of changes and different versions.

By Rob