Wednesday, December 7, 2016

SCOM - The Topology Widget, Visio and a suped-up HD display!

Recently, I ran into an issue while creating some dashboards in the SCOM console for a customer and I thought it might be worth sharing.

Normally I use the Topology Widget to light up an image file that I initially put together using Visio and the end-result typically turns out something like this…

The difference this time though was that I’ve been using a new Windows 10 laptop that has some pretty awesome specs and a kick-ass HD display. The downside of having a laptop with Windows 10 and these specs is that application scaling becomes a nightmare and there’s a whole merry-go-round of custom tweaks that I needed to make when I started using it so as to deliver an experience where I don’t need a giant magnifying glass to work!

Here's how I have my Windows 10 laptop scaling settings configured (notice the 250% size setting)..

With these scaling settings in place on the new laptop, I went about my business by first creating a new dashboard image in Visio and then saving it as a PNG file before finally importing the file into SCOM.

When I worked my way through configuring the Topology Widget wizard to map my custom IT services (Distributed Applications) onto the image, the dashboard disappointingly turned out like this...

The problem with this dashboard view is that its grainy quality and tiny health state icons make it hard to read and understand. I've created hundreds of these dashboard views in the past and this was the first time that I've encountered a problem like this so it was time to dig a little deeper to find the solution.

The first thing I tried was to copy the problematic PNG file to another SCOM environment and create a new Topology Widget dashboard there. In this separate environment, the grainy image and tiny health state icons were still there so the problem pointed to an issue with the PNG file.

Another test I tried was to import a completely different dashboard PNG file that I knew worked fine in another customers environment and thankfully this displayed as expected. With this validation, I was confident that I was dealing with an issue either with the original problematic PNG or the Visio image that I created the PNG from.

As I traced back through my steps, I opened the Visio file again that I created this dashboard in and clicked the the Save As option from the File menu to save it as a new PNG. When I did this, I was presented with the following PNG Output Options window:

Notice the default Resolution and Size settings Visio 2016 selects for me when I go to save a new PNG file. I figured that due to the 250% display scaling option that my laptop was configured with, these settings were creating the PNG file at too high a resolution for SCOM to work with.

I went back to the original problematic PNG file and checked the Image Properties and I could see that it was configured to use 2044 x 1548 pixels as shown here....

When I checked the other dashboard PNG file that I knew worked (and which I created on my old laptop), I could see that it was configured to use a much lower pixel size.

So, back to the Visio diagram of my new dashboard and this time, when I clicked the Save As option from the File menu, I manually configured the PNG Output settings to use a resolution of Source and a pixel size of 1123 x 794 as shown in this image...

When I imported this new leaner version of the PNG file back into the same Topology Widget, I finally got the results I was looking for where the health state and image quality were far easier on the eye.

Hopefully this easy fix helps someone else out with their future SCOM dashboard creations!


  1. is there any guides on how to create NOC dashboards like this in SCOM and Visio? Thanks

    1. Hi there, you can get a full walkthrough on how to build dashboards like this in my last book here -

      Hope this helps!