A Complete Tutorial to Deployment Diagrams: Key Concepts, Symbols, Examples

Do you want to learn about Deployment Diagrams? Simplify complex concepts and enhance your understanding of system architecture through them.


A deployment diagram is a visual representation of software and hardware components of the system and their physical distribution for processing. A UML deployment diagram consists of nodes upon which the artifacts are deployed.

Both nodes and artifacts of the system take part in the final execution of the system. In simple words, a deployment diagram would show a hardware system and the software components that are going to be run on that hardware system.

In this guide, you will be able to understand how crucial these deployment diagrams could be. You will be able to learn and make your own deployment diagrams whenever needed. Keep reading to learn more about deployment diagrams.

In this article
  1. What is a Deployment Diagram?
  2. Deployment Diagram Symbols and Notations
  3. When to Use the Deployment Diagram
  4. How to Draw a Deployment Diagram?
  5. Deployment Diagram Examples
  6. Conclusion

Part 1. What is a Deployment Diagram?

UML Deployment Diagram is basically used to visualize the topology of the physical components of the system where software components are deployed. Deployment diagrams are closely related to the component diagrams. Component diagrams are used to describe the components of the system, and deployment diagrams show how these components are deployed to the hardware. 

A deployment diagram consists of two main elements: nodes and artifacts. Artifacts are usually resource files, documents, libraries, databases or executable files of the program, and you cannot touch them. At the same time, nodes are the physical components of the hardware that you can touch upon when the artifacts are deployed.

There are a few other elements as well. They include dependency, component, association interface, etc. All of these combined make a deployment diagram.

sample deployment diagram

Part 2. Deployment Diagram Symbols and Notations

There are multiple shapes and symbols used to draft a deployment diagram. Nodes and artifacts are the main elements in any diagram. There are multiple other symbols used to create a deployment diagram are given below.

Node: Node is a three-dimensional cube or box. It is one of the most important parts of the diagram. It is where the artifacts are deployed for execution.

how to represent a node in a deployment diagram

Artifact: Artifact is usually represented by a rectangle and denoted by double arrows around it. It has a cube inside, having a triangle on the right side of the cube.

how to represent artifact in a deployment diagram

Component: It is the modular part of the system and defines the behaviour of the provided interferences. There are two rectangular-shaped areas on the left side of the component.

how to represent components in the deployment diagram

One-way and Two-way Dependency: The One-way and two-way dependency defines the sequence of the system. They are usually denoted by dotted lines with arrows at the end.

dependency representation deployment diagram

Association Relationship: The Association relationship shows a direct link from one node to the other. It is usually denoted by a bold line from one node to the other.

Part 3. When to Use the Deployment Diagram

Deployment diagrams offer ease to software engineers and help them understand the model for a particular task or arrangement of a system. Before structuring a system, there needs to be a certain plan about how things are going to be operated and what could be the client's needs.

  • Deployment diagrams help DevOps or software engineers to make certain changes for better solutions whenever an issue in the system arises. Without having enough information about the hardware or the software, it could lead to more problems. So, having a deployment diagram is vital.
  • Deployment diagrams also help engineers to know if the hardware or software being used is compatible enough to run the model or not.
  • It also gives an exact idea of which document type is deployed on the hardware component. It saves a lot of time, and quick recovery is possible in case of any issue.
  • Deployment diagrams are also used in integration planning. They give better ideas while creating software that will be deployed on the hardware.
  • Whenever a software engineer needs infrastructural planning, a deployment diagram helps him understand the system's needs, like servers, databases, and hardware specifications.

Part 4. How to Draw a Deployment Diagram?

Deployment diagrams are easier to draw these days. There are a number of platforms providing these services. You will be able to find readymade templates to work with. However, all of these platforms work in a similar way. There are a few steps you need to take into consideration before drawing a deployment diagram on any platform.

Step 1: Identification of the purpose of your deployment diagram is vital. Before drawing a diagram, keep the end user in mind. Check if your system fulfils the demands of the end-user or not.

Step 2: Add nodes to the diagram. Nodes are the most important part of the deployment diagram. Keep end results in mind before adding nodes.

Step 3: You need to identify the relationship between the devices and the nodes. Once you've come to the point of how they are both connected, draw your communication associations to the deployment diagram.

Step 4: Identify other elements rather than nodes and artifacts. These elements could be components or any active objects needed to complete the deployment diagram.

Step 5: Draw dependencies among the components as needed to complete the diagram.

Want to make a deployment diagram now? Try EdrawMax, a free UML diagram maker with an intuitive UI and tons of templates.

Part 5. Deployment Diagram Examples

Example 1:

This illustrates the deployment diagram for library management system for an educational institute. This example is the simplest one to describe the deployment diagram. Libertarian collects information given by the database where all the information for a student is already stored. The client or student gets his book, and his data is stored in the system again.

library management system deployment diagram o1

Example 2:

This is another example of a deployment diagram for online shopping. Here in this deployment diagram, nodes certainly could be the web server containing shopping and payment gateways, including the clients. The database server connected to the inventory keeps a look at the counting of the remaining products in the store. The payment portal takes care of the transactions and cash count.  

online shopping deployment diagram o2

Example 3:

This is the simplest diagram for a local hospital having fewer resources. This diagram shows patients coming into the hospital for checkups where the hospital body gives them a receipt to wait for their turn. The data collected by the body is stored in the system or hospital database so that whenever the patient comes again, they have his data already stored in the database. 

hospital deployment diagram o3


Deployment diagrams offer engineers the flexibility to make necessary changes to your model. There could be complex files, software and hardware involved in a single system; through deployment diagrams, it is easy to look one by one. It could be a complex procedure, so it is more profitable to draw your diagrams with some tool that offers templates for you to do so.

Readymade templates make it easier for you to start with. With all these templates, you can convert your ideas into a diagram and proceed further easily. The elements in those templates are variable; you can adjust colours for a specific element if you want differentiation. If you want to draw deployment diagrams, Edrawmax allows you to create with full efficiency.

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Edraw Team
Edraw Team Jul 04, 24
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