depicting inter-dependent entities

Subject: depicting inter-dependent entities
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 25 May 2011 14:17:49 -0400

Hey, you gorgeous, witty, and fabulously intelligent whirlers!
Howzit goin', eh?

What's the best way to depict the interactions among six or eight different things?

For example, say I have some devices that connect to each other (some locally, and some over the internet), and some-or-all might be involved in a given customer scenario, and there are several timeout values involved. I can spew out a whole bunch of words to the effect that this timeout (defaulting to this duration) must be longer than that one, but the combination of the two must be shorter than this other one, which you would lengthen in this situation, but shorten in that situation, and meanwhile there's this other timeout that comes into play in these specific situations and supersedes the first one... except for... aaargh!

When I ask, above, what's the "best" way to show this stuff, I mean what's a likely representation that'll work in WebHelp?
(That is, if the big picture has to scroll, then vertical is probably better than horizontal. And three-dimensional isn't gonna work for me.)
I also don't wish to pay for a piece of software that I don't already hown, in order to generate a snazzy - and crystal clear - mind map... or whatever would be the appropriate representation. Possibly a specific type of flow-chart would be ideal. I do have Visio, but I only ever use a couple of chart styles from among the mystery-box contents.

Audience is generally a technically savvy bunch; engineers, technicians, IT folk, systems admins, security and crypto experts, etc.

Thank you kindly for the benefit of your wisdom and vast experience, individual and collective. Long may you reign.

- kevin

PS: Are y'all sufficiently buttered? I can lug in another truckload... :)


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