Part 1 - Concepts
More than a Drawing Tool
One of the most important concepts underlying Enterprise Architect is that it is far more than a simple drawing tool. Unlike many of the simple drawing tools that sometimes present themselves as modeling tools, in Enterprise Architect all models are stored in and built on very detailed and rich repositories. Some important results of this approach are:
- A diagram in Enterprise Architect is a view of some part of the underlying model
- Model elements can appear in multiple diagrams
- Updating an element in one diagram will update it in all other diagrams it appears in
- Connections between elements are first level model elements, not just visual representations
- The Browser window (a UI window you will learn about later) is the doorway into the model itself
- The Diagram Toolbox has a palette of appropriate elements for the current diagram type and modeling language
- Elements from modeling languages have special properties, characteristics and linkage restrictions
Repository Based Modeling
A model Repository in Enterprise Architect can be implemented in a number of ways, depending on need. Regardless of the type it is important to note that you must create or open a repository before you can do any modeling.
Some typical repository types include:
- A single file (.eap/.eapx/.fdb/.feap) which is typically used by a single developer
- A DBMS (Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL ...) based repository used by workgroups and larger teams
- An internal LAN based Sparx Cloud-Server repository (with .FDB or DBMS back end) for simplified deployment, efficiency and other benefits
- A web facing Sparx Cloud-Server repository for globally distributed development, stakeholder access, optimization and more
The kind of modeling you will do usually determines the kind of repository you will need. For the purposes of your Trial, the single file approach will be the easiest to start with, unless you have access to some pre-existing larger repositories. This guide will assume a single file as the simplest solution to get started with. But remember, your single file model can always be scaled up later into a full DBMS or Cloud based repository if required!
Technologies, Perspectives & Frameworks
Another term you will come across a lot in learning about Enterprise Architect is 'Technology'. In this special case, what is meant is a collection of domain-related modeling elements that together form a unique modeling language. For example, UML 2.5 is an open standard modeling language supported by Enterprise Architect; it is commonly referred to as the 'UML Technology' or 'UML Perspective'.
- A Technology is a collection of related modeling elements forming a modeling language
- A Technology in Enterprise Architect can also include scripts, shapes, document templates, patterns and other useful artifacts
- Technologies can be turned on and off as required in a model repository
- Patterns are collections of re-usable modeled content, for example a basic Use Case Model or simple Class Model
- Patterns are used to kick start modeling and speed up the creation of common modeling solutions
- Enterprise Architect 14 includes a collection of over 1000 patterns with detailed explanations, in many different modeling languages
- A Perspective is a constraint placed upon the user interface to only show a particular technology or set of technologies
- A Perspective is used to reduce complexity and help you focus on your task
- A Framework is a collection of patterns, modeling languages and other material that together support a modeling approach
- Frameworks can aggregate different modeling languages and often help determine model structure
As you work through your 30 day Trial, you will become very familiar with these terms and see how each contributes to your modeling expressiveness and effectiveness.
Things you can do with a Model
Because an Enterprise Architect model is repository based with a rich set of connections, meta-information and other material supporting the visual aspect, it is possible to take the model and create a wide range of new material from the model itself. Some possibilities include:
- Documents in rich text or PDF format that expose underlying aspects of the model as well as the visual representations
- Code generation from Class models and from behavioral models
- Model interchange material in XMI and other formats so that your model can be read and acted on by other tools
- Simulations of behavioral models in a variety of formats such as BPSim, DMN, State Models, Activity Graphs and more
- SysML Parametric simulation with Open Modelica
- Conduct reviews of model content
- Make models accessible online with WebEA and ProCloud Server
Once you move your model in a DBMS or Cloud based repository you might also implement model security to control who can modify the model and control locking on individual elements. In the Ultimate Edition you might also implement Row Level Security and control which users can see what parts of the model.
For the ambitious it is also possible to access the underlying model using the automation (Active-X) interface of Enterprise Architect using scripts and plug-ins, or if accessing a Sparx Pro-Cloud Server, via the OSLC interface - a RESTful API for exploring and modifying the model using standard web based calls.
Having installed the Enterprise Architect Trial Edition, you can now start it up and explore it. Please refer to the next section 'Part 2.0 - First Contact'.