Visio tips for creating good Citrix Diagrams

Over the years I’ve created a lot of Citrix diagrams.

I thought I would share some tips of the way I work to create good Citrix diagrams.

Get the right Templates
Visio Templates are collections of Visio shapes that are used to make diagrams.

Using the right Templates can make the difference between an average diagram or a really good diagram.

Andrew Wood has pretty much all of them listed on his site, if you know of any more and want myself or Andrew to add them, put them in the comments section.

The  only other ones I have used recently are the App-V stencils from Kirxblog

Updated 13/02/14: New Visio Stencil from Citrix just released. Find them here

Updated 26/03/14: XenApp and XenDesktop 7.5 Visio Stencils now available. Visio 2010 Download   Visio 2013 Download

Save the stencils to the My Shapes folder which should be in your Documents library.

They will then appear under the My Shapes menu in Visio

Decide which way things are going to flow from external to internal. I normally go for either left to right or top to bottom with the external firewall being on either the left or the top and the internal LAN being on the right or bottom

The layout is pretty important as this will determine a lot about how good the diagram is. The 2 most important rules for a good diagram are:

1) Make it symmetrical where possible

2) Avoid lines / connectors crossing where possible

Place shared components such as NetScalers or SQL servers in the centre of the diagram as a lot of other components all talk to them, placing them in the centre avoids lines crossing.

If you are doing a dual site design with replicated databases, place the databases near the centre so that the lines that represent the replication do not have to cross over everything else.

If you are working on a large Visio diagram with a lot of shapes in it, don’t cram it all onto A4 size. Most modern office printers print A3 and a lot of people have wide screen monitors now so go with A3.

Copy and Paste
If you customise any inserted shapes or make a line with arrows and a certain colour, don’t reinsert and customise each time, just copy and paste the original.

Copy: Ctrl + C

Paste: Ctrl + V

Or Select Shape, Ctrl + drag

To make your diagram look ssymetrical, create one half of it – getting it exactly right, copy and paste it and then flip it so that it is a reflection of the other half.

This is also works for things like arrows or just smaller sections of the diagram like two load balanced servers or two NetScalers in an HA pair.

Ctrl + R (Right 90) L (Left 90) V (Flip Vertically) H (Flip Horizontally)

If you have a lot of shapes that you want to stay together and move together you can group them to make moving them easier.

Control + Click to select

Right Click –>Group–>Group

Always keep shapes in line by using the Align function. If it’s multiple shapes of different sizes that are running vertically, align them down the middle so they are “centred”.

Ctrl + Click (Select guide shape first then other shapes)

Alt H + O + L (Left) C (Centre) R (Right) T (Top) M (Middle) B (Bottom)

All shapes should have a label so it is clear what it is. Using the text field attached to the shape means the text moves with the shape.

Double click shape


Click shape and press F2

Label location
Most of the time the text will end up over the top of the shape, like this

Moving the text underneath looks a lot better and is much easier to read, like this

Use the Text Block tool to move

Or Ctrl + Shift + 4

Label Direction
On non-horizontal lines if the text is horizontal like this, it doesn’t look good

Rotate the text using the text rotation point

So it looks like this

To extend a connector or line without risking changing its position, hold down the Shift key while you drag the end of the line.

I use straight connectors when I can and Right-Angled connector to go around objects and avoid lines crossing.

Right click Connector, select Right-Angle Connector or Straight Connector

You can redirect a Right-Angled connector around an object using right angles

Shift while dragging line bend point

Or obtuse angles

Ctrl while dragging line bend point

Auto Size
I tend to find this causes more issues than it solves. Autosize will extend your diagram onto two pages if one of the objects slips off the page.

I often find that hidden objects or other stuff annoyingly creates a diagram on two pages which I never want.

Alt + G + A
Go Full Screen
Viewing your diagram full screen will give you a good idea of how it will look when printed and is also good if you are working on a small screen.


To make small adjustments to shape locations select the shape using the mouse and then tap the arrow keys to move.

This is also useful if you want to move objects along a horizontal or vertical plain.

When making small adjustments to shapes, zoom right in so that you can see what you are doing and be more accurate.

Ctrl + Mouse Scroll Wheel

Undo is about one of the most important options you have. If you mess stuff up just undo it and start again.

Ctrl + Z

Inserting into your design document
There’s two ways you can insert your Visio diagram into your design document. You can either save the Visio diagram as something like a .jpg and copy and paste this into Word or you can insert a linked Visio object into Word.

The second option is great because whenever you update the Visio diagram it will automatically be updated the next time someone opens the Word document. The downside is, if you email the document to someone they will not see the Visio diagrams. Also if someone changes the name or location of the Visio file, the link is broken.

To insert as as link.

Click the Insert group on the Ribbon
Click the Object button
Select the Create from File tab
Browse to the Visio diagram
Tick Link to file
Click OK

Section Breaks
Visio diagrams tend to be fairly large and look better on A3 and landscape. Word Documents by default are A4 and Portrait. Paste your nice Visio diagram into that and it doesn’t look good.

You can use section breaks in Microsoft Word to split your design document into sections to which you can apply different Page Layouts.

You do this by going to the Page Layout tab, click Breaks and select Next Page

You need to insert two Section Breaks, one at the start of where you want to apply the different Page Layouts and one at the end. Think of them as buffers, if you don’t insert two, the whole rest of the document will take on the new Page Layout.

Once you have inserted the Sections Breaks you can change the page size and orientation from the Page Layout group and it will only apply to that section.

Here’s what a zoomed out design document will look like with A3 landscape for the Visio diagrams.

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