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Guillaume

Guillaume

Guillaume Finance

VISEO (Modelling and Sparx EA Consultant & trainer)
 
Business and Systems Analyst with a software development background, and certified training instructor on UML, SysML and Sparx Enterprise Architect.
After spending several years working at an international level in the UK, I'm currently working for VISEO (formerly Objet Direct), Sparx Systems authorised reseller, VAR and Training Partner in France (www.viseo.com). Current and past projects cover the following industries: banking & finance (e.g. mortgage application), payment card systems (ATM, POS, UK APACS, ISO8583), set-top boxes, oil and gaz, and hydraulic utility manufacturing (EDF).
I publish articles and news about modelling languages and Enterprise Architect on my blog www.umlchannel.com.
I also maintain eaUtils addin for Sparx: www.eautils.com.

EA User Group London 2017

This article provides some feedback on the EAUG London 2017 event, covering a full day of presentations, case studies, and user stories which took place on Friday, May 19th.

It illustrates the quality of information that has been delivered if you couldn't make it this year.

As shown on the agenda below, the day started with a keynote followed by 5 sessions, each time with a choice between 3 topics.

EA User Group London 2017 presentations agenda

Below is a feedback on some of the presentations I followed on that day.

Keynote: Innovation Needs Models

The keynote this year was run by Peter Lieber, from Sparx Systems Central Europe (Austria).
Peter shared his experience and recommendations when introducing a modelling approach within a project or company:

  • To start with, a modelling language (e.g. UML, SysML...) and a tool (EA) must be chosen. A method is paramount to structure the modelling approach and processes. The final item to consider is the existing and progressing experience.
    • It is important to highlight that a tool and language like EA + SysML are not sufficient as the methodology is mandatory to enable a modelling approach. Having no standards for the methodology, it needs to be defined according to the context.
    • The need for a modelling tool such as EA is required to achieve productivity.
  • Some useful feedback on failed and successful modelling scenarios were illustrated:
    • A successful modelling experience requires an iterative approach where reachable targets can be completed as the teams make progress.
    • An example of a failed case was given where a complex target was defined and once completed, a lack of acceptance and internal support led to a progressing drop in the related actions.
    • Another example involves the wrong idea that using everything e.g. all diagrams types from UML is the target. Resources and the team's involvement are often completely gone before getting any visible output.

Peter then focused on safety relevant systems e.g. trains, cars, aircrafts, medical MRI, etc. involving both complexity and safety. Safety is often subject to standards such as ISO 26262 for Road Vehicles Functional Safety. Looking at the challenges that need to be solved based on the ISO26262 standard, the modelling approach is considered to be the only sustainable option. This is supported by the fact that modelling makes it possible to maintain elements (e.g. requirements, components) and models (diagrams) that are all connected via traceability, coined as the model intelligence.

Where traceability is achieved with the tool, additional issues need to be addressed with the modelling methodology, e.g. a process to define in what order should one go about working on the model, what diagrams need to be used and for which purpose, where do elements and diagrams need to be stored, etc.

To enable adoption by Systems Engineers, the chosen language (SysML, UML) can be extended e.g. via a UML profile and its stereotypes. For instance the ISO 26262 ASIL levels (Automotive Safety Integrity Level) can be implemented in the system's model blocks through a range of colours.

Where diagrams are not always appropriate, details can be extracted and published through the means of Excel documents, e.g. via a Decision Matrix.

The final idea covered by Peter is to use Enterprise Architect as a platform that provides:

  • links with other tools such as DOORS to exchange requirements,
  • UML profiles and custom toolbars,
  • automated scripts,
  • running simulation and validation,
  • publish models via the Reusable Assets Service,
  • document generation.

Automated tests solution for add-ins and scripts in Enterprise Architect

My presentation was aimed at introducing an automated tests solution for EA automation scripts and add-ins, based on a personal project that I worked over the past months.

Since 2015, I maintain and share a free utilities add-in: eaUtils (www.eautils.com). It is aimed at saving time in specific scenarios involving sorting a wide array of elements within the model, or generating the alias value for elements according to their layout in a diagram.

The enhancements that I identified throughout the time, in addition to the feedback and requests received from users led to an increasing complexity level. Even if eaUtils is published as a free tool, a good level of testing and quality is required for the target users. Time consuming tests prompted the need for an automated tests solution with the following objectives:

  • Save time.
  • Define and run tests on my add-in in EA, moving away from manual tests.
  • Spend time improving tests rather than running them.

I came up with the following business class diagram to define the test structure:

eautils addin sparx enterprise architect automated tests structure

Moving to the design, I created an XML Schema model and generated the XSD file with EA to structure the XML test definition files. Having implemented a first working version of my automated tests in eaUtils, I could use it as illustrated below:

  • Run an addin feature with associated settings to generate the test data for a new step. This function prevented me from manually build the XML file which would have been time consuming.
  • Enable the automated tests module as the eaUtils developer, and run in on a test EA project.
  • Review the results via the generated sequence diagrams.
  • Fix any bug in case there's a failed test and repeat this process.

sparx enterprise architect addin automated tests process

The following illustrates the EA test project structure with packages that contain data sets, test step elements, and the automated tests execution process (load the tests description from the XML file, and for each step, load the settings, call the add-in method with the provided parameters, check the post conditions, and generate the results).

sparx enterprise architect addin automated tests run eautils

Generated sequence diagrams are aimed at reviewing results and keeping a history of run tests. Here is an example:

eautils addin sparx enterprise architect automated tests results

I ran eaUtils addin automated tests in Enterprise Architect via the first part of my demonstration, having only as a demo effect a spilled glass of water which did not reach my laptop. Thankfully no IT related demo issue.

The second part of my presentation covered the next step forward by making this solution available for other add-ins and even scripts. There are numerous EA automation scripts and add-ins out there. Most of them are specific to a project and therefore not shared with the community, whilst the remaining ones are released as open source, free, or commercial tools. Note that EA add-ins are listed by Sparx Systems on their third party extensions page.

In order to integrate this automated tests solution with other addins and scripts, I selected the following candidates:

  • hoTools add-in, an Open Source project maintained by Helmut Ortmann. An Open Source project was paramount so I could access and amend the C# code as part of this study (with the help and support of Helmut).
  • EA scripting library shared by Geert Bellekens.
  • A selection of scripts defined for a client: Lock Package and a Teiid virtual DB schema DDL import.

The tasks that followed were:

  • Extract a generic library from eaUtils automated tests into a new C# project: eaTests.
  • Update eaUtils add-in to use eaTests generic library.
  • Update hoTools add-in to use eaTests.
  • Define a new add-in to tests scripts.

eatests

As a result I successfully ran tests on one hoTools feature, a script from Geert, and 2 of my scripts. These were illustrated in the second part of the demonstration.

This study has led to a new solution called eaTests that has a dedicated site (www.eatests.com). The foreseen enhancements for eaTests library are mainly linked to the type of tests to carry on post conditions.

Replacing existing solutions with Enterprise Architect and extending function with custom MDGs

interserve eaug London presentation

Graham Williamson from Interserve, a major construction company with 85,000 staff worldwide, shared his experience on using Sparx EA to define Enterprise Architecture models, custom ArchiMate 3 stereotyped elements, and EA model validation.

The aim of an Enterprise Architecture was to move away from paper-based processes and achieve a digital construction. The audit of existing services, locations, customers, processes, applications, data, and technologies quickly led to the need of a modelling tool. Sparx Enterprise Architect successfully fulfilled this need, delivering the following:

  • Custom meta model
  • Flexible modelling
  • Archimate 3 support
  • UML profile and stereotypes support
  • Model search based on SQL queries
  • Document generation
  • Automation tools
  • Low license cost

Graham shared the meta model via the selected Archimate 3.0 relationships and elements, followed by examples of Archimate 3 stereotypes to handle additional properties. All Interserve stereotypes were made available via a custom toolbox.

EA 13 Model Validation feature was used to make sure that relationships between elements were valid according to a set of rules.

  • Validation rules i.e. a list of permitted relationships first need to be set up in EA. To save time in defining them in the required XML format, a custom add-in has been created to provide a handy user interface (e.g. Archimate associations allowed between an Application Collaboration and a Meaning element).
  • The model validation is then run in EA for a selected package, displaying any error found.

Graham then talked about customizing EA diagrams to provide a suitable view for stakeholders:

sparx enterprise architect archimate example eaug london

It was interesting to see a practical use of Archimate plateau elements as illustrated below (definition from the Open Group: "A plateau represents a relatively stable state of the architecture that exists during a limited period of time").

sparx enterprise architect archimate plateau example eaug london

As relationships couldn't be connected to an Archimate plateau element whereas this level of traceability was expected, the solution involved custom searches based on SQL queries with results grouped by Plateau. Search results enabled Interserve users to review each Plateau or architecture state content.

Other used EA features included:

  • The relationship matrix to maintain links between plateau elements and other model elements.
  • Roadmap diagram for the transformation planning.
  • Heatmap and charts.
  • Traceability and insert related elements in a diagram to build the business capability model.

Using Enterprise Architect and SysML for the development of an In-Wheel Motor System

protean in wheel motor systems sysml sparx enterprise architect

I was looking forward to this presentation as I'm currently involved in an MBSE (Model Based Systems Engineering) project in the automotive industry for ISO 26262 safety compliance.

John Gladstone works for Protean Electric Ltd, a UK based company that develops in-wheel electric motor systems for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric light-duty vehicles. John's presentation provided an interesting feedback on the challenges that have been addressed with SysML and Enterprise Architect models.

Project context

John opened a SysML BDD diagram to illustrate the project context.

  • The development of In-Wheel Motor systems falls under the scope of the ISO-26262 (Road vehicles – Functional safety), which requires the identification of Safety Goals
  • The In-Wheel Motor system must include safety mechanisms which integrity is fulfilled by Design and Safety Architecture models. Such mechanisms are intended to prevent hazardous events such as an unintended acceleration of the vehicle.

System behaviour

The system behaviour was modelled with use cases and sequence diagrams for the scenario details. In order to model the system behaviour when things go wrong, Protean team has invented an actor called the Gremlin.

As a result SysML sequence diagrams had the driver and gremlin lifelines as the actors, and the electric vehicle lifeline in the middle with all interactions.

Modelling needs

Another BDD diagram was used to illustrate a complete view of the modelling needs for a motor system:

  • An architecture framework to comply with architectural integrity via consistency, completeness, and correctness as per the ISO-26262 standard needs.
  • The system is described by the architecture and modelled by SysML practitioners who use SysML modelling language, a semi-formal notation highly recommended by the ISO-26262. 

Understand SysML

John shared his recommendations on the literature to read about SysML, including:

  • SysML Distilled: A Brief Guide to the Systems Modeling Language from L.Delligatti
  • SysML for Systems Engineering from Jon Holt and Simon Perry (Simon attended this EAUG)
  • A practical guide to SysML from S.Friedenthal and A.Moore

Architecture Framework model

The structure of the framework model was described as follows:

  • It defines a number of viewpoints (perspectives).
  • It is implemented using an MDG Technology that contains SysML stereotypes, toolboxes, and custom model searches.
  • It is defined in the model repository alongside a Design Model.

Process and methodology model

Guidelines and diagrams describing the process to follow according to the methodology have been defined for each viewpoint.

Example model

To help understanding and improving this modelling environment with frameworks, processes and a methodology, an example model has been defined. This worthwhile exercise is based on an example system:

  • Sufficiently defined to understand a practical results from the existing frameworks and processes.
  • Not in scope of a motor system so nobody can argue about the details.
  • Introducing fun: Protean chose the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek series as the system. This led to system elements such as an antimatter reactant injector and storage pod, a warp nacelle, etc.  

Final topics

Remaining covered topics included:

  • The need of a glossary of terms to enforce using the right vocabulary the system or ISO standard.
  • Generate documents from the models to minimize overheads.
  • Structure the models with a library of elements (e.g. blocks, use cases, requirements...) and views/perspectives.

Sparx EA community of users

Throughout this 2 day event, I had the opportunity to meet great people. It was very interesting to share ongoing work and questions around EA, whether the context applied to software projects involving analysis and design, systems engineering with SysML and MBSE, or enterprise architecture with UML or ArchiMate. It was very nice catching up or meeting users that I know via Sparx forum or other online means throughout the year, giving an opportunity for a face to face discussion.

EAUG events are aimed at making the large community of EA users meeting up, gain valuable knowledge, and create new opportunities.

I'm looking forward to next year's EA User Group.

 

Preparing my presentation at the upcoming EA User Group in London (19/05/2017), I uploaded a video about this subject on Youtube.

It provides a first glimpse on the automated test module for Sparx Enterprise Architect addins that I will discuss in detail at the EA User Group London 2017.

Click on the following url to open the Youtube video: Automated tests with eaUtils addin for Sparx Enterprise Architect video.

 

There is still time to register at the EA User Group London 2017 from www.eausergroup.com.

Please feel free to contact me on guillaume[at]umlchannel.com if you have any question or comment.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 08:04

SysML 1.4 reference card

The SysML reference card defined by Tim Weilkiens (oose.de) is now available in a version with diagrams done with Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect modelling tool. This overview illustrates SysML modelling language concepts, organized by topic:

  • System context diagram
  • Use case diagram
  • Block Definition diagram
  • SysML ports
  • Internal Block diagram
  • Requirements
  • Packages
  • Sequence diagram
  • Activity diagram
  • State Machines
  • Comments and constraints
  • Allocations
  • Parametric diagram

SysML 1.4 reference card is available in the PDF format.

Notes:

  • SysML is available in the Systems Engineering and Ultimate editions of Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect.
  • This reference card is also available in French and provided during VISEO SysML with Sparx Enterprise Architect training sessions (more details available in French here).

Download links:

VISEO EA UML to JHipster Generator MDG Technology

This article shares an MDG Technology that integrates Sparx Enterprise Architect UML models with JHipster.

VISEO EA UML to JHipster Generator MDG produces JDL (JHipster Domain Language) content from UML models maintained in Enterprise Architect. This output can be used in JHipster to create the application's entities, including properties and relations.

Not being able to find a suitable tool that generates JHipster entities from UML models, I started such integration for a software application that has been implemented with JHipster 2.

Note: the current version of the MDG is compatible with JHipster 2, latest available version when the project started. JHipster 3 new features could be integrated in a future version.

Context

A modelling project has been launched with Enterprise Architect to gather and maintain all the information and knowledge related with the project for the development team and stakeholders.

The initial models included business classes to identify the concepts, shared through a visual representation with UML. This approach has been useful when integrating these concepts in the technical environment JHipster.

JHipster, or “Java Hipster”, is a handy Open Source application generator that aims to create a complete and modern Web app:

  • A high-performance and robust Java stack back-end (Spring Boot, Spring Security, Spring Data, Spring MVC, etc.)
  • A sleek, modern, mobile-first front-end (Angular.js and Bootstrap)
  • A suite of pre-configured development tools like Yeoman, Maven, Gradle, Grunt, Gulp.js and Bower

UML to JHipster JDL generator

Overview

Defining class models on both business and technical layers enabled a proper integration of the business definitions in the software application. Design workshops were carried in an efficient manner through the use of a common language and tool (Sparx Enterprise Architect and UML).

Looking for existing integration solutions between UML tools and JHipster yielded XMI exports/imports. However XMI implementations in UML tools don't provide most of the time a proper and full exchange of UML models i.e. without loss or modification of definitions. JDL Studio looked interesting; this online tool renders an entity diagram matching the JDL content. The downloaded file can be used to generate entities in JHipster (command line example: "yo jhipster:import-jdl export-jdl-uml.jh").
Without a suitable link between Enterprise Architect and JHipster, I wrote a script that generates such content directly from Enterprise Architect models. It requires the following JHipster 2 customizations carried in Enterprise Architect:

  • Data types: JHipster types are available for the entities' attributes.
  • UML profile: stereotypes on UML classes and attributes to provide JHipster properties via tagged values, listed below.
    • Classes
      • jhipsterDto : use mapstruct for the DTO-entity mapping
      • jhipsterPaginate : pagination choice for lists (infinite-scroll, pager, pagination)
      • jhipsterService : apply serviceClass to the entity
    • Attributes
      • jhipsterisRequired : the attribut is required
      • jhipsterMin: provides the minimum value (declared as minlength for String attributes, or min for Integer, Long, Float, Double, or BigDecimal attributes)
      • jhipsterMax: provides the maximum value (declared as maxlength for String attributes, or max for Integer, Long, Float, Double, or BigDecimal attributes)
      • jhipsterPattern: provide the pattern value for a String attribute
    • Script: generates the JDL content

The following UML class diagram illustrates the meta-model applied for the UML to JHipster 2 JDL integration:

SparxSystems Enterprise Architect UML to JHipster JDL File generator metamodel

The script and UML profile have been improved through users' feedback and reviews from JHipster experts at VISEO.

Installation

The EA UML to JHipster MDG is published via an XML file. Once installed, it is listed in the MDG Technologies screen:

MDG EA UML to JHipster JDL

Note: this MDG is available on request (e-mail: jhipster[at]umlchannel.com).

JHipster diagram and toolbox

EA/JHipster MDG Technology supports a diagram with its toolbox to create stereotyped classes and attributes:

uml to jhipster sparx en toolbox

UML profile and JHipster stereotypes

EA/JHipster MDG Technology includes a UML profile with stereotypes on classes and attributes to provide relevant Tagged Values.

When starting a JHipster design class diagram, JHipster entities contain tagged values available from the JHipster tab: DTO, paginate, service. The "none" value is set by default so all tagged values are optional.

uml jhipster entity properties

The JHipster entity "Language" field is set to JHipster so its attributes are associated with the JHipster data types list.

The diagram toolbox can be used to add a stereotyped attribute to a JHipster Entity class. Such attributes also contains properties from the Tagged Values tab:

sparx ea uml attribute jhipster

UML to JHipster generation script

The following UML class diagram has been defined with Sparx Enterprise Architect based on the JDL Studio example. This model provides a mean to check that the generated JDL content from either solution matches.

Compared with the JDL studio diagram, UML class diagrams have the advantage of being based on the OMG standard. Furthermore using a tool like Sparx Enterprise Architect provides a way to maintain the entity design model within a complete modelling repository e.g. including requirements, business, analysis and architecture models.

The following JDL content has been generated using this script:

=== EA UML to JHipster Entity Export ===
== More information is available from www.umlchannel.com/jhipster ==
INSTRUCTIONS: copy and paste the following content in a text file, and rename it e.g. as dpl.jh =
entity Department {
departmentId Long,
departmentName String required
}
entity JobHistory {
startDate ZonedDateTime,
endDate ZonedDateTime,
language Language
}
entity Job {
jobId Long,
jobTitle String,
minSalary Long,
maxSalary Long
}
/**
* The Employee entity.
*/
entity Employee {
employeeId Long,
/**
* The firstname attribute.
*/
firstName String,
lastName String,
email String,
phoneNumber String,
hireDate ZonedDateTime,
salary Long,
commissionPct Long
}
entity Location {
locationId Long,
streetAddress String,
postalCode String,
city String,
stateProvince String
}
entity Task {
taskId Long,
title String,
description String
}
entity Country {
countryId Long,
countryName String
}
entity Region {
regionId Long,
regionName String
}
enum Language {
FRENCH, ENGLISH, SPANISH
}
relationship OneToOne {
Department{location} to Location
}
relationship OneToMany {

/**
* A relationship
*/
Department{employee} to
/**
* Another side of the same relationship
*/
Employee
}
relationship OneToOne {
JobHistory{department} to Department
}
relationship OneToOne {
JobHistory{employee} to Employee
}
relationship OneToOne {
JobHistory{job} to Job
}
relationship ManyToMany {
Job{task(title)} to Task{job}
}
relationship ManyToOne {
Employee{manager} to Employee
}
relationship OneToMany {
Employee{job} to Job
}
relationship OneToOne {
Location{country} to Country
}
relationship OneToOne {
Country{region} to Region
}
paginate JobHistory, Employee with infinite-scroll
paginate Job with pagination
dto Job, Employee with mapstruct
service Employee with serviceClass

The final step involves copying this content to a JH file, and use it in JHipster to generate entities.

Scope

This approach was used as a mean to easily generate new versions of the design entity model within JHipster. Updates were carried in Enterprise Architect to remain consistent with the business model, whilst being generated, tested and approved directly in the application.

Once entities are updated in JHipster with custom code, it prevents any synchronization with the UML model. Where a full synchronization between the JHipster and UML projects is not the final purpose of this MDG, it allows having a design model that matches exactly the entities definition in the development environment during the first iterations of the project. This level of information in the design layer is very useful, even if mismatches with the code are bound to occur. The design team may chose to manually update the UML design model when needed.

Future versions

This MDG has been implemented and used with JHipster 2. A future version could be released to support JHipster 3 that has introduced new properties such as:

  • new serviceImpl service
  • new syntax e.g. "dto (ou service ) * with … except …"
  • skipClient and skipServer declaration on entities
  • angularSuffix
  • Microservices (e.g. microservice with <jhipster app name>)
  • elasticsearch search on entities (e.g. search * with elasticsearch except …)
  • New types (AnyBlob, ImageBlob)
  • Generate minbytes and maxbypes for blob attributes( Blob, AnyBlob, ImageBlob)

 

I ran a number of times a 3 day training course for a client in the automotive industry on SysML with Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect tool to model complex systems. This training course in french involved two instructors: Pascal Roques, a SysML and Systems Engineering expert in France, and myself on modelling and Sparx Enterprise Architect.

This training course combines the theory with the SysML modelling language brought by Pascal expertise alongside Enteprise Architect as a SysML modelling tool, brought by Viseo. Enterprise Architect tool is covered throughout the 3 days course to understand its environment, its SysML integration and features, and putting it all in practice via exercises.

Following several successful "intra company" training sessions, Pascal and myself have decided to run "inter-company" training sessions throughout France, starting 2017. The first SysML + Enterprise Architect training session will take place in Grenoble in April (4 to 6th April).

Full details in French are available from this link. Contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for any further information.

Wednesday, 06 July 2016 07:42

Enterprise Architect 13 beta preview

This article provides a preview about the upcoming Enterprise Architect 13, available in its beta version since beginning of June.

SparxSystems Enterprise Architect 13 leaflet covers the main enhancements including:

  • Ribbon interface, replacing the traditional menus
  • Links between connectors for a new level of traceability
  • Time Aware Modeling with a package and element Cloning approach
  • SysML simulation with OpenModelica and parametric diagrams
  • Tagged Values support within diagram filters
  • A new "Progress bar" tagged value type
  • Various other enhancements:
    • Direct publishing to Joomla CMS
    • Improved Linux and Mac compatibility
    • Back end repository updates when accessing a shared Enterprise Architect project, hosted on a centralized database with the Security feature enabled
    • Cloud Service improved (IPv6 support, better performance)

Enterprise Architect 13 Ribbon interface

The screenshot below illustrates Enterprise Architect 13 user interface:

Traditional menus have been replaced with a Ribbon interface. As a result, some time will be needed to find Enterprise Architect features. This modern look and feel should make it easier to use features compared with the previous interface.
Activation of the main views such as notes, project browser, pan and zoom is available via the Window button, available from all ribbons.

enterprise architect 13 beta ribbon window

The Start ribbon provides access to a Search button:

enterprise architect 13 beta search ribbon

  • Search in Model opens the project search screen (also available via the Ctrl+F shortcut).
  • Search in Project Browser opens the Project Browser search dialog window.
  • Search for Diagram or Package opens an associated predefined search.
  • Browse for Diagram or Package is a new feature to browse a project tree version without the elements, making it easier to find a diagram or package. Choosing a package or diagram selects it in the Project Browser.

 sparx enterprise architect 13 beta search diagram

The Configure ribbon provides access to the project options and settings including Security, Version Control (e.g. SVN), code and MDA templates, installed MDG technologies, etc. 

ruban configure sparxsystems enterprise architect 13

Enterprise Architect tool configuration is available from the Start ribbon > Preferences.

sparxsystems enterprise architect 13 beta start ribbon preferences
The Extend ribbon shows all installed extensions/add-ins such as eaDocX, eaUtils, eaNavigator... Each extension menu can be accessed via its own button, improving the access to their features.

Important: add-ins menus in this ribbon don't match with Enterprise Architect v12.1 and earlier (see EXTENSIONS menu). Instead options from these menus match the ones listed upon a right click from the project browser. This seems to be something to fix or clarify. It would be nice to have a way also to replace the buttons images with the extensions logos.

sparxsystems enterprise architect 13 beta extensions ribbon

Current versions of Enterprise Architect (12.1, 12, 11...) make it possible to personalize and reduce Enterprise Architect menus on a local PC. This customization can be very useful in order to simplify the user interface e.g. by removing the Execution Analyzer and other features that are not used by a group of users. Enterprise Architect 13 ribbon interface can be customized via the Start ribbon > Perspectives > Show Perspectives Window > Ribbon Menu.

sparx enterprise architect 13 beta ribbon menu preferences

Menu search with the Office 2016 visual style

Visual Styles can be modified from the Start ribbon to customize the user interface. Office 2016 visual style provides a search module on the menus. To activate this style, open the Start ribbon > Visual Style and select Microsoft Office 2016.

sparx enterprise architect 13 beta office 2016 visual style search

The search feature is illustrated below.

sparx enterprise architect 13 beta office 2016 visual style search

Enterprise Architect 13 helpers

Helpers features can be enabled via the Layout ribbon.

sparx ea 13 helpers

Sweeper and HV lock provide custom behaviours when moving diagram elements:

  • Enable the Sweeper helper so a collection of elements within a diagram section can be moved altogether. Where this looks useful, one has to understand and control the definition of a section.
  • Enable the HV lock helper so selected elements can either be moved horizontally or vertically.

The Presentation mode highlights any selected element and prevents from creating associations between elements (quicklinker is disabled).

Reorder messages mode is only active in UML or SysML sequence diagrams. When enabled, it lets you move messages without ordering the surrounding ones (same effect as when using the Alt key shortcut).

Enable the Show direction helper so that connectors are displayed in red or green when an element is selected according to the following rules:

  • Green: the selected element is the connector's source.
  • Red: the selected element is the connector's target.

This feature can be useful to control that relations are set in the right direction according to traceability rules.

sparx enterprise architect 13 beta helper show direction

Links between connectors

Enterprise Architect 13 makes it possible to create links between connectors. This feature can be useful for advanced traceability needs, e.g. in a Systems Engineering context, a control flow between action pins can be associated with a matching connector between SysML blocks' ports. This provides a way to ensure consistency between the static and dynamic view of a system.

Important: to prevent "not UML compliant" error messages, the Strict Connector Syntax option must be disabled in the preferences.

sparx enterprise architect 13 beta options strict connector syntax

The following screenshots illustrate this feature.

  • Select one of the connectors to enable the quicklinker (see arrow).

 sparx enterprise architect 13 beta connector links

  • Use the quicklinker to create a dependency with another connector.

sparx enterprise architect 13 beta connector links

  • As a result, the following dependency link has been created:

sparx enterprise architect 13 beta connector links

Improvements would be required to access this type of traceability. For instance it would be useful to have a Links tab in the connectors' properties window. It would also be useful to see this link within the traceability view once a connector has been selected in the diagram.

Diagrams

The diagram toolbox displayed at the top of diagrams in current versions of Enterprise Architect has disappeared in version 13. It is however useful to easily change the colour of elements or links, the font, to align elements, apply the same dimensions, etc. Hopefully it will be available again in the final version.
All these features are currently solely available from the Layout ribbon.

 

Managing versions with a package and element Cloning approach

Sparx Systems provides a new "time aware model" feature to manage versions via a cloning approach. Right click on a package from the project browser and select "Clone Structure as a new version". Provide the new version and select a target package.

This version has been allocated to a new package (it needs to be renamed). A diagram has also been created and it contains the elements from the existing version.

Any element needs to be cloned within the new version before carrying modifications.

In the following example, Class2 has been cloned in the new version 1.1, and an attribute has been added to this class.

It is subsequently possible to display all elements onto the same diagram and apply versioning filtrers.

This feature can be useful to manage versions within an Enterprise Architect modelling project, e.g. to define and compare an "as-is" with a "to-be" vision of a model. However this approach seems to be limited when applied on a complex branch of models.

SysML simulation with OpenModelica

Enterprise Architect 13 offers an alternative and much more powerful SysML parametric simulation compared with the existing built-in tool. As regards, Sparx Systems has integrated a link with the OpenModelica, an Open Source Modelica-based modeling and simulation environment.

This feature requires installing OpenModelica tool (https://www.openmodelica.org/). Algorithms must be entered in SysML constraint blocks' invariant constraints, and SysMLSim configurations must be created via the Enterprise Architect 13 Simulate ribbon. This feature requires identifying and understanding all the properties to set prior to get a running simulation configuration.

The following screenshots illustrate the OpenModelica SysML simulation in Enterprise Architect 13.

sparx enterprise architect 13 beta sysml simulation open modelica

sparx enterprise architect 13 beta sysml simulation open modelica

Diagram filters: tagged values support

Diagram filters make it possible to hide or grey out elements from an active diagram according to a set of criteria. Tagged values support has been added in Enterprise Architect 13:

Conclusion

Enterprise Architect 13 upcoming version should be released end of 2016 or early 2017. This new version not only provides a nice and useful user interface in line with the latest applications, but also carries an interesting number of enhancements and features that will be handy once finalized.

eautils addin for sparx systems enterprise architect

I started last year a personal addin project for Sparx Enterprise Architect; eaUtils was intended to gather features that have addressed situations I came across over the past years. Initial eaUtils features come from scripts that were shared with the community (see Enterprise Architect project browser scripts: sort elements by alias or by tagged value).

Following an initial version launched in December 2015, enhancements were released in February 2016 with eaUtils 1.11. Current features include:

  • Sort elements from a package tree, a package, or composite element by Alias, Tagged Value, Stereotype or Name
  • Sort a package elements according to their layout order in a diagram (top to bottom or left to right)
  • Generate elements alias values according to their order in a diagram
  • Generate the breadcrumb trail in a diagram

Elements sorting

eaUtils sorting features update the elements tree position from a package or element. Enterprise Architect applies a default sorting order based on the name of the elements. In order to achieve a better management and more efficient use of the elements from within the project browser, it can be useful to have alternative and enhanced sorting options e.g. based on the alias, stereotype, tagged value, or according to the layout in a diagram.

eaUtils latest version provides a way to sort elements within a package tree, which is illustrated below. Further information on eaUtils sorting features is available from eaUtils Help.

Sort elements by alias in a package tree

Having enabled the package tree option, this feature can be used via a right click on the main package > Extensions > eaUtils > Project Browser : Sort elements by alias. eaUtils addin opens the following dialog window, prompting to select the packages to process within the current tree:

sparx systems enterprise architect addin eaUtils package tree sorting window

Below is a summary of the available actions or information:

  • Status: set to Ready unless the elements sorting is running (Busy).
  • eaUtils settings: a summary of the sorting settings values is displayed. A button is available to open eaUtils Settings.
  • Select all/none: enable or disable all packages within the displayed tree.
  • Tree: packages within the tree are displayed and can be individually enabled or disabled. Any locked package is greyed out and followed by (Locked).
    • Note: Root nodes are always disabled and marked as locked as they cannot have any element to sort.
  • Sort elements in the selected packages by...: run the elements sorting within each selected package.
  • Cancel: close this window.

Whilst eaUtils sorting by feature is running, progress is updated as packages are processed.

eautils addin sparxsystems enterprise architect sort by package tree progress busy

Once completed, all selected packages are marked as DONE, and a confirmation dialog is displayed.

eautils package tree sorting addin enterprise architect completed

Generate aliases

eaUtils provides a feature that generates elements aliases according to their order in a diagram, from top to bottom or left to right. I often use this feature to generate use case aliases according to their order in a diagram e.g. UC_001, UC_002.... It also can be applied to other diagrams such as UML activity, BPMN process, Archimate, etc.

Consider the following use case diagram:

exemple sparx ea eautils addin to generate elements alias values

Note: use cases on the above diagram are stored in the same package whereas actors are located in a dedicated one. eaUtils provides an option to deal with this situation so that external elements (actors) are ignored when generating the alias.

eaUtils provides a range of settings to define the prefix, suffix and numbering format to generate in each alias. Below is an example for the current example:

  • the prefix is set with the element's name followed by an underscore e.g. UseCase_
  • the numbering will be generated with 2 leading zeros e.g. 001, 002...
  • the suffix is set to "_BookStore"
  • only Use Case elements are processed

 

eautils sparx ea addin generate alias settings prefix suffix

Running eaUtils "Generate Alias" leads to the result below:

sparx eautils addin model diagram generate alias results

Breadcrumb trail for diagram navigation

Navigating between a large number of opened diagrams within a Sparx Enterprise Architect modelling project can be cumbersome. Having opened successive composite elements such as an activity, use case, or BPMN2 subprocess, going back to the previous diagram is often not easily achievable. This issue is not only valid when one uses Sparx tool, but also when a published HTML version is opened in a web browser (e.g. Firefox, Chrome, IE).

A workaround involves creating a diagram hyperlink back to each calling/linking diagram; eaUtils addin provides a Breadcrumb Trail feature that generates such hyperlinks within an active diagram. In the example below, a BPMN2 process is detailed via an associated composite BPMN diagram:

eautils sparx enterprise architect addin breadcrumb

Running eaUtils breadcrumb feature on BusinessProcess1 diagram leads to the following result i.e. a hyperlink back to the Business diagram has been created:

eautils sparx systems enterprise architect addin breadcrumb trail result

eaUtils addin for Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect

eaUtils is listed as a Sparx Systems 3rd Party Add-In in the Model Management Category.

eaUtils addin can be downloaded for free from www.eautils.com website, where an online help content is also available.

 

sparx systems enterprise architect training courses

VISEO released its 2016 training catalogue, including a full range of updated training courses for Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect. All training materials are available in French.

  • Slides and exercises content updated with Enterprise Architect 12.1 version.
  • 2 or 3 day thorough training courses, involving UML, BPMN2, or SysML.
  • Optional sessions available: 
    • configure a project to be shared with other users;
    • create an MDG Technology;
    • implement an add-in with C#;
    • generate a document (built-in RTF generator or eaDocX);
    • define business processes with BPMN 2.0;
    • ArchiMate 2.0.

Please visit Viseo website for more details:

 

Microsoft AzuRE DB Cloud Services with Sparx Enterprise Architect

This article provides guidance on setting up a Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect modelling project in the Cloud, using Microsoft Azure SQL Database services.

Microsoft Azure SQL Database (formerly SQL Azure, SQL Server Data Services, SQL Services, Windows Azure SQL Database) is a cloud-based service from Microsoft offering data-storage capabilities (similar to Amazon Relational Database Service) as a part of the Azure Services Platform (Source: wikipedia).

As regards an Azure SQL Database is very similar to a Microsoft SQL Server database, supported by Sparx Enterprise Architect. A few tweaks were needed a while ago, however Sparx Systems has since released an Azure version which works well.

Context

We started a distributed project involving partners from several locations, hence working remotely. In order to set up a centralised database that can be easily accessed and maintained, we chose Microsoft Azure SQL services.

We tested the following services by increasing the DTU levels (Database Transaction Units).

  • We started with the Basic option (5 DTU): KO, too slow.
  • S0 option (10 DTU): KO, too slow for a daily use.
  • S1 option (20 DTU): OK, chosen option with the best performance/cost ratio.
  • S2 option (50 DTU): OK with a slight improvement over Q1 which did not however support the increased cost.

Requirements

Below are the requirements prior to transfer an existing Enterprise Architect project in the Microsoft database cloud-based service:

  • Create an Azure SQL Database where the modelling project data will be stored (note: a database is required for each EA project).
    • Once available, details should include a server url (e.g. abcd.database.windows.net), port (e.g. 1433), and credentials (username + password).
  • Download and install SQL Server Management Studio.
  • Download and install SQL Server ODBC drivers (if not already available).
  • Download SQL scripts provided by Sparx Systems to create the required Enterprise Architect repository tables:

Setting up the database tables

The first step involves creating the tables where the EA project data will be stored.

  •  Open the SQL Server Management Studio, and provide the Azure SQL database details.

microsoft management studio azure enterprise architect cloud

  • Open the "SQLAzure_EASchema.sql" file downloaded from Sparx Systems web site.

microsoftsql database azure enterprise architect cloud run schema script sparx

  • Execute the query against your database and wait for the Successful confirmation notification.

microsoftsql database azure enterprise architect cloud completed schema script sparx

  • Refresh the Object Explorer to view Enterprise Architect tables.

microsoft sql database azure enterprise architect cloud object explorer

Transferring your project to Microsoft Azure SQL Database

You're ready to transfer data from your existing Enterprise Architect project, whether it is stored in a local EAP file, or shared in a centralised DBMS. In the following example, a local EAP file is transferred:

  • Open Enterprise Architect, menu Project | Data Management | Project Transfer
  • Select "File to DBMS" transfer type.
  • In Source Project, select the local EAP file.
  • In Target Project, click on the [...] button to access the ODBC settings
    • Select the SQL Server driver > click Next
    • Provide the Azure SQL database details

microsoft SQL database azure enterprise architect cloud odbc

  •  Click OK; the project transfer is ready to be launched.

microsoft management studio azure enterprise architect project transfer

  • The transfer may take some time to complete (it could around 15 minutes to transfer my project). Please wait for the confimation message to be displayed.

Your Enterprise Architect project is now centralized and available to all team members who have suitable credentials. Specific guidelines to set up ODBC access are recommended to reduce the time required setting up each user's PC.

It is also recommended to enable "EA Security" feature where users can create locks to access and update models.

sparx logo execution analyzer

Enterprise Architect is mainly used as a modelling tool to define and maintain a structured set of models based on standard languages or notations such as UML, BPMN, SysML, or ArchiMate.

Enterprise Architect includes several features to fulfill other needs, associated with functional, business, design, or architecture aspects. This article illustrates the use of Enterprise Architect Execution Analyzer to capture and record method calls between instances of implementation classes during code runtime. A method call recording feature can be enabled:

  • to visualize and analyze interactions i.e. invoked methods between instanciated implementation classes,
  • to document implementation classes,
  • to understand a software or application behaviour,
  • as an option to identify reasons for bugs when static code analysis hasn't been satisfying.

Note: static code analysis can be carried on the source code from the IDE, whereas dynamic code analysis is carried in a runtime environment.

Context

More and more complex technical architectures are defined for projects, with several heterogeneous software components communicating via their interfaces or services, and design patterns such as Dependency Injection can be applied to load modules or objects at run time, preventing any analysis at compile time.

Investigating bugs in such context on a production environment can be difficult. Source code analysis from the IDE may not be the right place to find solutions. This is exactly a case that one of my clients came across; Enterprise Architect Execution Analyzer feature offered an interesting and innovative approach enabling dynamic code analysis via method call recording. This could potentially lead to identify details surrounding a random software bug. In this specific case, as the issue was not related with the code itself, the Execution Analyzer hasn't identified any clue.

This article illustrates how to configure and use this feature in Sparx Enterprise Architect 12. As an example, I selected an Enterprise Architect add'in project I'm currently working on. The technical environment involves a Visual Studio 2012 C# solution. The Execution Analyzer also works with other technical environments such as Java or C++.

Setting up a suitable workspace

The Execution Analyzer involves the use of several views which can be enabled from the Analyzer menu:

  • Manager Analyzer Scripts
  • Debug > Debugger
  • Breakpoints and Markers

sparx enterprise architect execution analyzer menu

Once all the mentioned views have been displayed in your Enterprise Architect workspace, this configuration can be saved from the menu View > Perspectives > Save as New.

sparx enterprise architect perspective

Configuring the Execution Analyzer

Importing the source code with reverse engineering

Start with importing the source code in the Enterprise Architect project:

  • Create a package and run Code Engineering > Import Source Directory.
  • Select C# and the folder that contains the source code.

sparx enterprise architect import source directory

  • Packages and implementation classes resulting from the reverse engineering are visible from the Project Browser.

sparx enterprise imported csharp code

Create a local path for the IDE

To easily access and run Visual Studio IDE files, the local path %VS2012% has been defined via the menu Tools > Local Directories and Path:

Create an Execution Analyzer Script

Right click on the root package where implementation classes have been imported, and select Execution Analyzer; the dialog box below is displayed. Click on Yes to generate an Execution Analyzer script on this package.

sparx enterprise execution analyzer config

The Execution Analyzer script properties are displayed. Configure the source code compilation from the Build tab:

  • The command line need to match the following example:
    • "%VS2012%\devenv.com" /build Debug myapp.sln
  • Default directory: source code location
  • Parse Output: Microsoft .NET
  • Exec Command as: Batch File
  • These settings will be used by Enterprise Architect to build the C# solution.

sparx enterprise execution analyzer config build

Select the Clean tab and provide the same information as previously (Build), and replace "/build" with "/clean" in the command line:

  • "%VS2012%\devenv.com" /clean Debug myapp.sln
  • These settings will be used by Enterprise Architect to clean the C# solution.

sparx enterprise execution analyzer config clean

Open the Debug\Platform tab, and provide the following information:

  • Debugger: Microsoft.NET
  • Select Run
  • Default directory: location for compiled binary files
  • Application path: application to launch
  • These settings will be used by Enterprise Architect to start the applicatin in debug mode (in the case of an add'in, Sparx Enterprise Architect is launched).

Open the Debug\Workbench tab:

  • The following properties can be entered e.g. by selecting a DLL file, so that implementation classes can be instanciated from Enterprise Architect (this feature is not used in the current article).

sparx enterprise execution analyzer config workbench

Define breakpoints

As the source code can be opened in Enterprise Architect, breakpoints can be defined like in Visual Studio or any other IDE. Once a breakpoint is reached during the runtime, the application is suspended, pending any user action in Enterprise Architect, acting like an IDE since it builds and debugs the application.

Enterprise Architect supports a specific type of breakpoints: Recording Markers, described below. 

  • Open the source code from a class in the Project Browser (select the class > F12)
  • Enterprise Architect internal code editor opens the source code file associated with the class, e.g. src\Main.cs

sparx enterprise execution analyzer source code f12

  • A right click on a line in the source code can be used to insert a Breakpoint > Add Start/End Recording Marker

sparx enterprise execution analyzer breakpoint

  • Add Start Recording Marker indicates that Enterprise Architect must start recording the method calls
  • Add End Recording Marker indicates that any active recording must end (optional)
  • In the following example, two recording markers have been added: start recording on line 114, and stop on line 118.
  • Once a start recording marker is reached, method calls are recorded in the project. This data can be used after exiting the debug mode to generate UML sequence diagram.

sparx enterprise execution analyzer record breakpoint

Build with the Execution Analyzer

Important: Windows 7 usually requires to starts Enterprise Architect as an Administrator so the Build can be run without any error.

sparx enterprise start as admin

Select and right click on the the Execution Analyzer script (configuration) > Build, or click on Build Current Package :

sparx-enterprise-execution-analyzer-build-current-package

The System Output view displays results to confirm if the build has been successful (content should be identical to a Build run in Visual Studio).

Debug with the Execution Analyzer

To start the Debug from Enterprise Architect, select and right click on the script > Debug.

A new instance of Enterprise Architect is launched in order to run tests on the add’in (other types of applications will be launched in debug mode).

Use the add’in to reach a start recording marker e.g. by displaying the About window.

On the Start Recording Marker is reached, Enterprise Architect starts recording method calls. Note that the add'in execution can be more or less slowed down due to the recording processing performed by Enterprise Architect. This show down can be relative on the analysed application.

Additional add'in features can be tested to reach the Stop Recording Marker.

Display the Record and Analyze view to show all recorded method calls, listed under a sequence of interactions.

Each interaction has two "Method" columns: the first displays the current class and method whereas the second one displays the invoked class and method, alongside parameters. A double click on one of the interactions opens the invoked method in the source code, e.g. gui.About.About invoked from Mail.EA_MenuClick:

A right click on the whole sequence will generate a UML sequence diagram with the recorded data.

Note: number 15 in the above screenshot defines the depth level to record calls. This can be modified according to analysis requirements.

The following dialog is shown to optionally rename and confirm the sequence diagram to create in the modelling project:

An illustration of the generated diagram is shown below. Colours and comments have been added following the carried analysis.

The above diagram shows a scenario of executing the code according to the deployed version in the runtime environment. This diagram and the implementation class model generated using the reverse engineering can be associated with other modelling elements, such business classes, processes, or requirements.

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