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Messages - bholtzman

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16
Bugs and Issues / Re: MS Access 2013 and EAP files
« on: May 05, 2016, 11:08:53 pm »
Paolo and all,
We've established a Postgres database on our server and migrated an EAP file into it. We then connect to the database from both EA and a custom Access front end. After some performance tuning of my code, it all seems to work quite well. My table and code configurations are such that we don't do any data manipulation on the EA tables but only on the custom tables I created. So I feel like we've minimized the risk of bad things happening and still leveraged the power of your approach.

It's really quite an effective solution to our needs and fits well with our existing skill sets. I do hope to graduate one day to Geert's more sophisticated and intrinsic solution but the current configuration is what will enable us to get the resources required for that.

We want to provide users with only the run-time MS Access to use the custom front end. If they had the full version of Access they could create the connection to the database themselves, but with the run-time version I understand I need to code the connection in VB. Do you have any tips or code snippets on doing this? Maybe this wasn't an issue for you but I figured it was worth asking.

Thanks for all of your help!

Bill

17
Bugs and Issues / Re: MS Access 2013 and EAP files
« on: April 15, 2016, 10:26:13 pm »
Since you guys already hijacked the thread (I know - I started it!)...Geert I know a number of Dutch air traffic controllers both in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, as well as some at Maastricht. And they all have that same challenge with the language since we use English in all business. My hat is off to all of you!

Bill

18
Bugs and Issues / Re: MS Access 2013 and EAP files
« on: April 14, 2016, 11:38:50 pm »
Geert,
I am becoming convinced that developing our own MDG is the longer term solution. For political reasons we want to demonstrate why that is using the quick and dirty Access method, explaining that they'll need to make a bigger investment if they want it done right and with full capabilities. Does that make you feel better?  :)

I do have one question. I understand that in EA 12 the EA Viewer no longer supported MDGs. Is that true? If so, that could be an issue that tips the scales back the other way.

Paolo,
Thanks for the caveats and detailed info. You guys must really know EA backwards and forwards. Sounds like a fun place to work! Our plan for the short term Access solution is to use a server-based database and put our custom tables in a separate database, using Access to link them and giving the Access front end read only capability for the EA tables. So we will have no way to make edits or change the schema of the EA database and so completely avoid the issue of "contaminating" EA.

By the way for both of you...I assume you're not native English speakers? If so you both have tremendous command of the language, both formally and in your use and understanding of day-to-day expressions! Thanks so much for your help.

Bill

19
Bugs and Issues / Re: MS Access 2013 and EAP files
« on: April 14, 2016, 04:29:31 am »
Of course you can say "I told you so"! If I'm wrong, I will freely admit it and make sure and tell you.  :)

You don't seem to be responding to my points directly, so I am feeling comfortable. Also, one of our tasks is to provide this custom metadata "overlay" to an existing, full-scale EA project. It seems to be this will be to some degree easier doing it our way.

With regards to BPMN 2.0, that is an MDG right? How long would it take to develop such an MDG for specific requirements? How long would it take to learn how to do it and where do you go for the training materials?

Bill

20
Bugs and Issues / Re: MS Access 2013 and EAP files
« on: April 14, 2016, 02:50:50 am »
Thanks, Geert, I really do appreciate your comments and suggestions.

As far as document generation and HTML, I feel our approach has a definite advantage. I can customize the heck out of that. I've built modules in Access to export HTML files many, many times.

I have not seen how EA handles BPMN. Is there a video online somewhere?

As far as regretting the decision later, I don't get the sense that Paolo feels that way. In fact, he seems very comfortable with the direction they've taken, and has even been able to add his own data manipulation tools, letting him do things that ordinary users can't. It sounds like if he wanted to add a prefix to every object in one package (or do something more complex), he has a GUI for it.

Bill

21
Bugs and Issues / Re: MS Access 2013 and EAP files
« on: April 13, 2016, 11:43:22 pm »
Hi guys,
Sorry for being offline. The conversation is really great.

Paolo,
I also feel like I have much more granular control and understanding of things using the Access option. Maybe it's just because I haven't been working with EA for years (just a few months actually) and don't have the "back of the hand" knowledge of it inside and out. It's certainly a powerful product with lots of capabilities, but as you say it's great to have freedom to create your own modeling environment.

We're curious how you capture "versions" of the data in your custom tables and how you match that up with each Baseline from EA. Did you build some custom tools for handling that?

It seems pretty bold to be running scripts to perform action directly on EA tables! Can you give some examples of this? I've already had cases where EA throws an error because it is creating an entry that violates a primary key, so I've taken steps to keep all of my activities confined to the tables I created, and not "touch" any native EA table except in "read only" mode. My sense is that this is necessary for me but not for you, because you've made the mistakes in the past and know what you're doing!

The flexibility of performing higher level and very customized validity checks is also appealing. I take it these are your arguments to Geert about why you think using Access is worthwhile?

Geert,
If I use UML Profiles would I also use EA Forms to provide the user with a way to track 20 pieces of metadata associated with a particular element, attribute, etc.? How would that data be stored, in t_attributetag, t_objectproperties, etc.? Having our custom field names stored in these tables as plain text doesn't seem efficient. Also, where are the enumerated tagged value datatypes be kept in the database? EA Forms does not seem to be that well supported. The web site doesn't seem to be up-to-date.

The difference between us is you have many, many years of working with EA and incorporating new capabilities. For us to get to anywhere near the same level of comfort might take a year. Meanwhile, Access is a familiar and comfortable tool and is probably used by 10,000 times as many people as EA. So if we build something in Access there are a lot more people available who can manage that component cheaply and proficiently. So the configuration is more manageable on the design side.

Cheers,
Bill

22
Bugs and Issues / Re: MS Access 2013 and EAP files
« on: April 08, 2016, 07:37:29 am »
Thanks, q! It gives me confidence to have your "blessing" on this. I realize you aren't guaranteeing anything, but just knowing you don't have any outright objection is very helpful. Thanks for your comments!

Bill

23
Bugs and Issues / Re: MS Access 2013 and EAP files
« on: April 08, 2016, 05:38:52 am »
Geert and Thomas,
Thanks very much. Good to know MySQL will work well.

My other questions were not about EA, but about the configuration Paolo uses where a MS Access front end connects to a database (not EA). The Access app also has read links to the EA database. Then we connect the t_attribute and t_object tables to custom tables in the non-EA database and track all kinds of metadata using the Access front end. This enables us a lot of flexibility in terms of the types and amount of custom metadata we track, and infinite control over reports. We can give users direct access to the up-to-date and custom data dictionary without the need for them to use EA.

So I'm not talking about changing the EA database structure at all, not even the slightest change. What I was talking about was manipulating tables in the non-EA database from MS Access.

I think Paolo has been doing exactly what I'm talking about for years.

The fundamental issue here, and the reason we want to move to this configuration, is that EA Forms, EA Matic and MDG Technologies do not enable any user-driven changes to the EA tables. So we're at the mercy of the EA table structure for tracking this custom metadata. From everything I can tell, the custom metadata is stored in the tagged values tables (t_attributetag, t_objectproperties, t_connectortag) and the tags are stored as plain text. What we're looking for is the ability to use lookup tables for entry of custom data, so that the user chooses from drop downs and other widgets and the data entry is simplified. We also see an advantage in automating the data entry with auto-fill features and such by using MS Access this way.

Do you see what I am getting at?

Bill

24
Bugs and Issues / Re: MS Access 2013 and EAP files
« on: April 08, 2016, 03:37:24 am »
Paolo,
Three more questions:

1. What's your preferred database to connect to? We are leaning towards MySQL. Do you have experience with that? Any specific issues or tips?
2. Once you've connected the Access front end to the relational database, can you then create tables and such? Or do you need to create the database structures separately?
3. How do you manage security on the side of the Access app? Do you specify locking level during schema construction?

Thanks!

Bill

25
Bugs and Issues / Re: MS Access 2013 and EAP files
« on: April 08, 2016, 01:48:18 am »
Hi Geert,
I looked at tagged values but from what I could tell they would be lots of work. We have 20 or so fields we want to associate with an attribute. I would have to create a tagged value for all 20 for each attribute, typing in the name of the tag each time and then typing in the value. I'd rather use my Access form that links to that attribute and has all of the fields with drop-downs and possibly some auto-fill fields as well. (Can't seem to figure out how to attach an image to this.)

I haven't looked at EA forms but will.

As far as an Add-in, could I build something similar to the what I've described (a multi-field form keyed on rows in t_attributes and t_objects) that way?

I've watched several of your videos on youtube...great! I just saw the one on EA add ins in one minute but the EA Matic item is not in my Extensions drop down in EA 12. Thanks!

Is it possible that my version of EA does not have either EA Matic or EA forms? We own Corporate.

Bill

26
Bugs and Issues / Re: MS Access 2013 and EAP files
« on: April 07, 2016, 10:44:54 pm »
Paolo,
Ah, this is great news for me. We have not committed to anything so your advice and experience will be of great value.

We're currently evaluating our options. What we want is to track custom metadata associated with classes, attributes, and everything we enter into EA. We need multi-user concurrent access from several different physical locations and networks. So here are the basic questions:

1. Can we do what we need inside of EA?
2. If not, what is the best client? Probably all of us would prefer a web-based tool for manipulating the metadata, but I think I mentioned that for regulatory reasons we need to use MS Access. Why have you chosen that client, your own familiarity with it?
3. What is the best configuration and database for concurrent access? Of course, "Deployment of Enterprise Architect" is a great resource for this. But there's no substitute for someone else's practical experience! We're leaning towards a MySQL database and still considering how to connect to it. We're also unclear as to how concurrent access will work. Is there any kind of locking mechanism?
4. Seems like we need to use the Cloud service option to connect to the database. Would you agree? Do you have any experience with that?

Scott Hebbard suggested we stick with EA and use tagged values. But the process of accessing the tagged values window for every single item is inefficient with respect to creating an Access form that contains every metadata item we want to track and a drop down of every EA item we want to include (from t_attribute, t_object, etc.). Also, having to type in every column name into the Tag field would really be labor-intensive. Or is there a way to populate the drop down? I looked at every single table in the database and did not see "EAExtended::CRUD" or the other two. Even if all of this worked you'd still have to get the values out of EA and I guess that'd be along these lines:
http://www.sparxsystems.com/enterprise_architect_user_guide/10/reporting/tagged_value_sections.html

Someone else suggested using the Glossary feature but it wasn't clear this was workable.

Thanks so much.

Bill

27
Bugs and Issues / Re: MS Access 2013 and EAP files
« on: April 07, 2016, 02:13:22 am »
Thanks, all. As you can see I am new to the forum and didn't realize you had answered. I turned on notifications for this topic but didn't check my spam folder!

Paolo you answered my questions exactly as intended. I definitely do not know what I'm doing at this point. But the project lead now wants to move the file to a central database for multiple users. For regulatory reasons, they also want to continue to access the tables via MS Access. Paolo that sounds like exactly what you've been doing, is that right?

I have Inside EA and read it!

Bill

28
Bugs and Issues / Re: MS Access 2013 and EAP files
« on: March 31, 2016, 11:32:08 pm »
Hi all:
So I want to use MS Access to open the EAP file because I can then build some additional tracking capability along with a custom front end and because I'm very comfortable with Access (due to years of sustaining legacy applications!). I've done this already by adding tables, queries, forms and reports to the EAP file. It seems to work well. I originally added rows to some of the EAP tables but that didn't seem safe. I don't perform any operations on the data in the native EAP tables except SELECT.

So are there people who have done this and do you have any tips or cautions about it? I could add another layer of defense by creating a separate Access file and linking to t_attribute and t_object. But this would add some complexity that I'm not sure I need.

I appreciate any thoughts or ideas.

Bill

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