If you were a Painter, a really good painter, you would have skills and expertise in painting. You might understand your brush, how to make one, what hair is the best type for a given finish. You might practise on using different shapes, different hair and different movements. You might also be able to make your own paint, mixing the raw materials to produce the different colours. You could grow your own herbs, gather your own minerals and grind / boil and fix them to make your own paints. Your experience knows how to apply the paint, to combine your physical movements with the nature of the paint, surface and other factors to .
But to be an Artist, you would also need to understand shape, form and colour. You would spend time thinking about composition, and relationships, and creating a narrative within the picture frame. You would consider and practice, draft and draw elements of the picture, carry out preliminary sketches and form drawings until you captured the essence, the very spirit of your art. You would also need to have a relationship with those who might buy, or display, or commission you work – you wonít be a serious artist if you canít survive, and you wonít be serious if you donít practice your art every day.
A Network Engineer, a really good engineer, should have skills that knows how to trace, to detect, to debug. You should know how the network is connected, and why data flows that way, and not this way. What is its purpose ? What are the elements that join together, that are mixed, to provide the data flow from end to end. And then, make the fix.
But to be a Network Designer, a really good designer, also needs to understand the network, the entire network, and all of the elements that make it up. You should see the form and shape of the entire system, and the external factors that make it the way it is. You should understand what the you can do, with the materials available, and how you can touch-up the picture, to change that shape, to add a little character there. The business factors that created the opportunity, and restrict the picture from being great.
Thatís the difference between a good Network Engineer, and a good Network Designer.
I originally published this in March 2009, but felt moved after a recent discussion to post it again. Please indulge me if you have already read this.
Other Posts in A Series On The Same Topic
- Free Custom Handwriting Font for Network Designs (14th August 2014)
- Network Diagrams: Font Selection and Production Context. Choosing Slab or Thin fonts (9th June 2014)
- Book Release: Tips on Using Visio To Make Network Diagrams (27th March 2014)
- Network Diagrams: Drawing Overlay Network Layers (14th March 2014)
- Network Diagrams: Choosing Better and Free Fonts (10th January 2014)
- My New Diagram Colour Scheme "Old Disco Style" (24th September 2013)
- On Diagrams and Information (10th September 2013)
- Colour Blindness, Network Diagrams and Reliability (3rd March 2011)
- Designer or Engineer, Artist or Painter (19th January 2010)
- Network Diagrams: Rotating Text on a Line (1st October 2009)
- Network Diagrams: Tips for Printing from Visio (22nd September 2009)
- Network Diagrams:Zones on a diagram with Visio shape union (31st July 2009)
- Network Diagrams: Drawing complex VLAN Networks with IP Addressing (7th July 2009)
- Network Diagrams: Drawing Freehand Curves (and then fixing them) (23rd March 2009)
- Network Diagrams:Aligning Shapes (12th March 2009)
- Network Diagrams:Locking the Background Shape (10th March 2009)
- Network Diagrams: Labelling an VLAN/IP Segment (9th March 2009)
- Network Diagrams: VLANs and IP Subnets (8th March 2009)
- Network Diagrams: Drawing the Background Shape (6th March 2009)
- On the Art of Network Diagrams and Presentation (4th March 2009)