A client-server network management system includes: a plurality of managed computer network elements, a managed element server that executes on a first computer; and at least one managed element server client that typically executes on a second computer. The managed element server and managed element server client are computer processes that execute from memory of their respective computers. The client-server network management system is really two applications in one: a visual element manager builder and a manager. The manager provides the run-time environment in which element managers are executed to monitor and manage computer network behavior such as network throughput, collision rate, and number of duplicate IP packets, to name a few. The manager portion of managed element server is independent of any graphic user interface. The logic and structure of the manager of managed element server is cleanly separated from the graphic user interfaces. The visual element manager builder is a visual development environment in which device vendors or network managers may create standardized element management applications, called element managers. A user can build an element manager without writing a any computer code. In addition, a user can edit an element manager without writing any computer code. A graphic user interface of this invention, that is displayed by the client, includes a visual image of a computer network element being managed. As a user looks at the visual display in the graphic user interface, the user is provided the same visual information as if the user where physically present at the location of the managed computer network element. Thus, at a glance, a user can obtain considerable information about the status of the computer network element as represented by the visual display.