Can you recommend a graphic illustration tool to model the architecture of IT systems?

I am searching for a graphic illustration tool to model the architecture of IT systems. It has to be capable to import and export the following file types:

Import: Excel(.xls)

Export: Excel, HTML, PNG, JPG, PDF, SWF

The graphic illustration should meet the following requirements:

  • Illustration of applications, interfaces and ways of communication
  • Free definition of object types and association types and their attributes
  • Aggregation
  • Drill-down in generic and manual graphs

The ambition is to generate an interactive graph where you can navigate through the structure and groups (drill-down) and if necessary highlight something (like mouse-over-effects). It should be readable for non IT professionals.

Can somebody suggest a tool with these requirements?

1616 Answers

author avatar

I would look into these tools:

Archi (http://archi.cetis.ac.uk)
Qualiware (http://www.qualiware.com)
ARIS (www.softwareag.com)
ardoq (http://ardoq.com)

author avatar

Regarding your requirements, I think MS Visio covers most of them. I would suggest also have look to ArchiMate and IBM Enterprise Architect

author avatar


I can see that a number of visual modelling tools have already been suggested. Troux (www.troux.com) also offers visual modelling capability that creates such diagrams and addresses the requirements posted. However, it is important to focus on the true purpose of this exercise from a business outcome / value perspective – in our experience, visual modelling in isolation is not the most effective way to achieve true business oriented value and there are far more effective vehicles for information to be managed effectively in a way that is easily consumable by both IT and non-IT professionals.
- collect only that data which is relevant to achieving targeted business outcomes from the enterprise and populate a central repository;
- connect the data to establish enterprise context;
- derive meaningful business analytics and graphical architecture models from that centrally maintained and constantly stewarded repository

In our experience, non-IT professionals do not want to look at visual models, but do want targeted analytics which answer their specific business oriented questions and do want the flexibility to be able to ask follow-on questions. Having a central repository which allows multiple static and ad-hoc views (models / graphical analytics) of the same data is really the only way to address these needs.



author avatar

I have used different Architecture Modeling Tools such as Microsoft Visio ,IBM Enterprise Architecture and recently started using AHA (for visual representation of Product road map along with Architecture modeling). I find Visio to be simple, intuitive and meeting all of your key requirements. Briefly, I have also used Qlikview and I liked the faster integration of all data from various sources and various forms of data representation.

My recommendation - Start with free license version of Visio, use it for 1-2 months and then buy it if you like it.

Many Thanks,

author avatar

If you have never done any drawing or graphical modeling before, I suggest you start with any free tool on the web just to try it out. As David Dichmann said you will soon find out that you need a tool that is repository based, that can synchronize information and connect information. This will be a must have for you if you even intend to share it across the organisation.

Quite many people have done the exact same thing as you are asking for here so what you should do when you og out and search for a tool is to explain an ambition of something you are trying to achieve (improve somthing, make more efficient etc.. not just say share information - that can lead you to a long Project where everyone has a lot of fun, you document alot but you get almost nothing out of it and are stuck in a big job keeping Things updated), ask them for pre-made best practices setups for your needs (this will get you started quite faster then starting to think of so much of this from scratch) and for flexibility to change the setup and what you use (this you need after you have tested their best practices so you can tweek it more to Your needs).

I am a business consultant in Norway, and our company uses and re-sell QualiWare so naturally I am biased in this situation but the tips above is valid for all the vendors in this situation.

You will find that QualiWare, Aris, Mega etc will all cover Your needs and alot more. Sparx likewise. They all have their extra strenghts and weaknesses (even if many Sales People do not really want you to know).

Feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more of the experience I have with tools like this, and I can also set you in contact With Companies using theese tools so you get some real usage feedback of pros and cons.

As you can see I love discussing this, but most of all I really enjoy sharing experiences from business and it architecture that gives business results because I get contacted so much from People who do loads of work and achieve really nothing than update problems.

author avatar

I recommend Qlikview to *model the architecture of your IT systems. It
meets all most all of your requirements (I am not sure about exporting to
SWF). FYI see the below links.*

*http://community.qlik.com/welcome *
*http://www.impressico.com/ *

author avatar

All I can say is if you find a tool that will do all of that, please let me know!

author avatar

I would suggest looking at Adaptive

author avatar

Check out:





some have collaboration features (nice) and while they also focus on flow charts etc, all should fit your interests. Of course you can always go the popular route and use Visio so your boss thinks you’re really busy all the time.


author avatar

I recommend: Microsoft Visio.

I had a doubt about Drill-down feature, and this tool can cover it.


author avatar

If you need to keep the diagrams tied together (ie: something in one diagram also appears in another, and when you change the definition, you need to sync that definition everywhere), or you plan to mahev many users (contributors or read-only consumers) then a modeling tool is going to be much better than a drawing tool like Visio. It will also be more expensive. Good ones I see used in the industry are:

Software/AG ARIS
SAP PowerDesigner (Disclaimer - I work for SAP)
IBM Enterprise Architect

Tools like these have a repository that manage objects that appear on diagrams, essentially a database that keeps the objects separate from where they appear in the pictures. They also have reporting tools, Web-based visualization tools, rich import/export features, and are highly configurable. My own company's PowerDesigner has an evaluation you can get from the company website (Google SAP PowerDesigner and you find it) and I am sure you can evaluate the others as well. Try them out before making a decision, but I recommend a modeling tool for complex architecture, you will get a lot more value from it and they are worth the price.

I've used both modeling tools and drawing tools in the past, and while a drawing tool gets you started quickly, it soon falls apart when you try and keep all visualizations together, and when you need to collaborate with a wider audience.

author avatar
Real User


Enterprise Architecture (EA) tool from Sparx systems can be explored.


author avatar
Top 10LeaderboardReal User

In this sense the most important thing is not to lose sight of the strategic objectives of the company, for it would recommend the adoption of enterprise architecture methodology within this methodology there are several tools that help us be clear throughout the field of IT with the business, like any tool that implements TOGAF or eg ARIS that is a tool of software AG

author avatar
Top 20Vendor

I would suggest you look at Microsoft Visio 2013, which allows linking of Excel to Visio objects. You will be able to configure the Visio object meta data to receive values from your Excel. Even the visual representation can be controlled, somewhat, by Excel.
The output as PDF, HTML and PNG is available. SWF may require some conversion, but open-source tools are available.

I use Sparx Enterprise Architect for operations and IT system architecture documentation. You can import data from Excel, output in a matrix format to Excel. Diagrams are drill-in capable (packaging, etc.) and the graphics is exportable as PDF and PNG. Documentation can be generated as HTML or Word (publishable to SharePoint or web).

Hope this helps.

author avatar

You can try Microsoft Visio.



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