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Please note : This help page is not for the latest version of Enterprise Architect. The latest help can be found here.

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File Based Projects

Model sharing and team deployment.

Enterprise Architect provides a convenient light-weight, low-barrier and portable file-based repository out-of-the-box, which is ideal for modelers who want to start work immediately; with the file-based repository you can be modeling within a few minutes. When a number of colleagues want to contribute to the models, the file can be moved to a file-share and it is possible to work with this setup even when the model becomes quite large and the number of users increases to ten or more. All editions of Enterprise Architect support this type of repository in the form of a .eap file in an Access database, or a .feap file in a Firebird repository.

You can create your own repository from scratch, but a default repository (EABase.eap) is conveniently supplied, located in the Enterprise Architect installation directory. The file acts as a template for creating new projects and can be copied to give you a head start in creating a repository. You can tailor this repository to suit your organization or create your own base repository. A File Based Repository can be easily transferred to a DBMS based repository using the Project Transfer feature, allowing a project to be scaled up when the team increases in size or when organizational policy dictates it.

File-based project tasks



See also

Create .EAP Project Files

Select one of:

  • Project list > New Project menu option
  • 'Local File | New Project' option on the 'Manage Projects' dialog, or
  • 'Create a new project' option on the Start Page

All of these options display the 'New Project' dialog; select a directory and enter a file name for your project (.eap under JET 3 or .eapx under JET 4).

Once the project has been saved, the Model Wizard displays, which makes a selection of Model Patterns available; select the Model Patterns to use.

Enterprise Architect adds a model containing the selected Model Packages to the Project Browser.

Open a Project Model Wizard

Create .FEAP Project Files

As for a .eap/.eapx file, except that in the 'New Project' dialog, in the 'Save as Type' field, click on the drop-down arrow and select the .feap file extension.

Enterprise Architect will check your input and display an error message if:

  • Your Firebird repository is not located on the local drive; a Firebird repository is not appropriate for a network shared project
  • The file path contains characters that are not in the system codepage

Location of default (EABase.eap) repository template

The default installation directories, depending on which version you have installed, are:

  • Registered version: C:\Program Files\Sparx Systems\EA
  • Trial version: C:\Program Files\Sparx Systems\EA Trial
  • Lite version: C:\Program Files\Sparx Systems\EA Lite

A base project contains templates and reference data from which you can quickly develop your own project.

Note that in addition to deriving a new model from EABase.eap. it is also possible to start a new project by copying an existing one. While it is possible to simply 'copy' the .EAP file at the file system level, this results in two identical models and should only be used when that is the required behavior; for example, when distributing a model to a client for verification. If you use the built in functions of Enterprise Architect to create a new model based on an existing one, Enterprise Architect will modify the unique identifiers (GUIDS) for all elements and related constructs so that the new model is essentially unique, and not a simple copy of the existing one.

Copy a Base Project

Configure Project

Having created your project, you can set a range of project parameters to define defaults, tailor the project to particular coding languages, and ensure consistent development and use of the project.

Settings Menu Defaults and User Settings

Create Custom Templates

You can customize any Enterprise Architect project as a template project with company standards, tutorials, frameworks and any other common piece of modeling already in-built; with careful planning you can save yourself many hours of work at project start-up.

Incorporate Model Templates

Best Practices for File Based Repositories

Single User

Simple file based repositories (.eap and .feap files) are best suited to single user development with the model file placed on the modelers local drive. This is fast, very efficient and provides a powerful means of getting started in modeling a particular solution. Many models will start out as single user repositories and only later be migrated into a DBMS or Cloud based scenario for larger team access. If you need to quickly start work on a project and do some exploratory work, or you are working alone as a consultant, the .eap or .feap file format is ideal.

Small Workgroup

With all versions of Enterprise Architect it is possible to share a .eap file at the network file level. This is really only a suitable solution for small workgroups (up to, say, five members) who are collaborating on a shared model. This solution is very much at the mercy of the quality of the network connection and could be less than ideal if collaborating users increase in number and/or the model grows very large. As Enterprise Architect on the user's machine is still running all the queries and performing all database operations on a network file, a slow network will result in less than ideal performance. As team size and model size increases it is best to upsize to either a DBMS or Cloud-based architecture.

In Conjunction with Version Control

One additional scenario in which file based repositories can be used to great effect is with a Version Control system such as SVN. If the SVN system holds the master content, then individual developers/modelers can check out the material of interest to them into a local .eap or .feap file. When they have made their changes they can migrate their work back into the shared master. This style of development is quite effective, and as the import and export of model material from the Version Control system works best with single user local project files, it is a good match and a good use of the two technologies.

Copy of Repository for Storage or Review

A further use of the single file repository is for distribution to clients and others for review and comment, where the original model(s) is located in a DBMS or Cloud that the recipient would not have access to. As it is relatively easy to bulk copy a DBMS model to a local .eap file, this is a good method for passing on a model to a client or another interested party. If some of the material is restricted, it is possible to delete sections from this single file repository after the bulk copy is complete and before passing it on.


If network access is limited and DBMS and Cloud based solutions are not possible, another (less than optimal but still effective) team based solution is to use the built in replication features of the .EAP file format. By creating a design master and distributing replicas to other modelers, it is possible to effectively share and contribute to a model without having direct shared access to the common model. On the down side, someone will have to perform the model merges as required and if there are replication conflicts (two changes to the same item) this will require manual resolution.


  • You can also add Model Packages to a project by clicking on the Project Browser header bar and selecting the 'New Model From Pattern' menu option