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Modeling the Future

The world is being driven by an almost insatiable appetite for change and innovation and this has resulted in Systems Engineers needing to work smarter and faster and come up with clever ways of solving problems. Time Aware Modeling is a unique modeling facility that allows engineers and other stakeholders to model any number of future states. This introduction of state into the models provides a mechanism to visualize what a proposed solution might look like, and allows engineers to compare a number of proposed solutions. A given solution can be analyzed and reasoned about and potential pitfalls and problems can be identified in the models. Reviews and walk-throughs can be carried out by any number of stakeholders and these can be used to determine which of a number of solutions is suitable.

The process can be initiated by making a clone of a Package for which you need a future state model. This can be done using the ribbon options or from the Browser window context menu.

The tool will display a prompt allowing the engineer to specify a name and a version number for the cloned structure. The version number is critical to the operation of the feature and is used by Enterprise Architect as a way of tracking elements and diagrams that form part of this future version with the specified version number. The tool will also prompt for a location within the repository for the cloned Package structure. Typically it can be given a name that includes its version and the contained-in parent of the Package being cloned; it might also, however, be kept in a separate part of the repository designated for future state versions.

The step just performed simply sets up the structure for the cloning and does not itself create future states of element; it does, however, make a copy of any diagrams contained in the Package. This illustration shows a Package that has been cloned, containing two diagrams that are copies of the diagrams in the original Package.

The diagram is assigned the version number specified in the version dialog, set by the user in the previous step. The cloning of individual elements is by selecting an element on a diagram, but until this is done all elements on the diagram will be the previous version. Enterprise Architect has a facility available from the diagram property sheet that allows the modeler to filter the elements on the diagram to the version of the diagram.

Setting this property on a newly cloned diagram will display all the elements in a gray-scale as they are all from the previous version. From this point, individual elements can be cloned and Enterprise Architect will make a copy of the selected element, creating copies of all its connectors. This is important as it will allow the element to be promoted as the updated current version once the change has been implemented. Individual diagram elements  can be cloned by selecting the element in the diagram and displaying the context menu, as shown in this illustration.

Once again you will be prompted for the version number, conveniently the tool will default to the one chosen for the cloned Package. Once this has been accepted Enterprise Architect will create a copy of the selected element and because the diagram is still filtered to version this element will appear normally in the diagram, with the other elements still displayed in gray-scale.

The Browser will show the newly created (version 2) element that will be collated with the diagram. In this way the cloned Package will only contain elements and diagrams with the new version number. For more information see the Time Aware Modeling Help topic.