Spreadsheet Rack Diagrams

Visio can produce athestically pleasing and highly detailed rack diagrams, if you have time to spend mucking about finding stencils that don’t suck (the default Microsoft ones do.), and actually have access to Visio to begin with.

For the most part though what Visio can do isn’t necessary to plan a rack properly and convey the information that’s actually required to yourself and other staff. Spreadsheets seem like the perfect medium in which to do this, they’re row/column based, which equates directly to Rack Unit (or other measurement)/rack or cabinet numbers.

And I’ve seen many cases of spreadsheets being used to represent rack diagrams. But up until recently I’ve not seen one that didn’t make me squint, cringe and demand proper diagrams. They just didn’t look any good but more importantly they were so cluttered and poorly formatted that they failed to quickly and easily convey any useful information.

This however, in my opinion, is something that actually looks pretty darn good. It’s essentially what I saw a co-worker I’m now working with, who has fourteen years experience on me, throw together in a few minutes.

So here are the files:

Page/print size is still A4 portrait and it should print without scaling and looking terrible.

Some notes on creation in Excel, OpenOffice/libreoffice works basically the same as Excel, but things like print area etc seem to be a bit harder to find:

  • Colour fill the whole spreadsheet to get rid of cell lines
  • Font size was dropped to Calibri 10 (from 11) to help reduce row height for portrait layout
  • Margins were set to narrow
  • Regardless of what you’re doing set the print area to the minimum number of cells required, once again this is to avoid scaling while printing and even while saving to PDF. When Office scales things it looks bloody terrible
  • It is possible to use landscape layout and have four vertical rack representations at Calibri 8 with margins set to 0, print results may vary with no margin width
  • OpenOffice/libreoffice works basically the same as Excel, but things like print area etc seem to be a bit harder to find
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