Active Directory Topology Visualization part 1


Except of Microsoft Active Directory Topology Diagrammer, which requires licensed MS Visio installed, there is no easy way to show how physical topology of Active Directory looks like. As the Chinese proverb goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, result of 17 repadmin /replsum <DC> commands even prepared in MS Excel will not tell as much as below screen:



GraphViz is open-source tool based on dot language dedicated for drawing diagrams. It allows to present any graph or network in simple static form with information like direction of flow between nodes or node specific details. It is perfect tool to show how Active Directory Domain Controllers replicate each other and allows to find bottleneck or critical paths in AD physical topology.

Usage is very simple and requires GraphViz package installed locally and own developed script to prepare input for this tool based on dot language.

1. Below code is dot language script used as input for GraphViz package to generate nice diagram:


– AD Sites: EU, US and AS are specified as SUBGRAPH cluster_XX and are presented as rectangles in final diagram

– AD DCs: EUDC014, USDC014 and ASDC015 are simply nodes in diagram

– example of server picture to put into the same folder where is located:


2. Command to generate picture of dot diagram layout:

 and result:


3. Examples of commands to generate all kind of diagram layouts:


Dot file can be prepared manually or a bit smarter. Below vbs is my own developed and many time used script which queries AD regarding to sites, domain controllers and connection objects and generates dot launguage file used later in GraphViz package.

Vbs script is available to download here and feel free to use it:



Below diagrams are examples of AD replication topology:


fdp1However more complex environments (>100 DCs) require a few tricks to make pictures more readable. I usually add dotted style for connections for example:

or trying to generate all kind of diagram layouts to choose the most suitable to study. In most cases huge networks need specific approach.

A few useful links:

1. Official GraphViz web site:

2. Dot guide:

3. Wikipedia about GraphViz:

4. Active Directory Topology Visualization part 2

Let the “more readable replication topology” be with you.


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