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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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Diagram Frame

A Diagram Frame element is a rendition of a diagram dropped from the Project Browser in Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect.

A Diagram Frame element is a rendition of a diagram dropped from the Browser window into another diagram. It is a type of Combined Fragment with an 'Interaction Operator' ref. However, it can be created on any type of diagram, and is not created in the same way as other Combined Fragments.

When you drop the diagram from the Browser window onto the open diagram, a dialog shows providing (amongst others) these options:

  • 'Diagram Frame' - a Diagram Frame is inserted into the diagram, containing an image of the dropped diagram
  • 'Diagram Reference' - an empty frame is inserted with the name of the dropped diagram in the frame label

In both cases, the object acts as a hyperlink to the real referenced diagram. You can also define properties for the objects, as for other elements, by right-clicking on the object and selecting the element 'Properties' option.

All options on the 'Select Type' dialog are discussed in the Add Diagram Links to Diagrams Help topic.

Diagram Frame Appearance

You can change the appearance of a Diagram Frame, as for other elements, but the available options are tailored for this element type. If you right-click on the frame and select the 'Appearance | Diagram Frame Appearance' option, a sub-menu displays with these options:

  • 'Normal' - the default appearance of a visible rectangular frame with a visible frame label; you can use this option to reset the appearance after using one of the other options
  • 'Boundary' - hides the frame label of the Diagram Frame
  • 'Boundary With Name' - hides the border of the frame label
  • 'Name Only' - hides the border of the Diagram Frame and frame label, leaving the text only
  • 'Hidden' - hides the border and text of the Diagram Frame

In a SysML, State or StateMachine diagram:

  • If the frame is set to non-selectable it will auto-resize to fit the bounds of the diagram, expanding from its default size but not shrinking smaller
  • Diagrams showing Diagram Frames applied using Enterprise Architect release 14.0 or later will, if opened using a release of Enterprise Architect earlier than release 14.0, draw the parent object on the diagram

Moving Elements via Diagram Frames

A useful feature of Diagram Frames as a diagram reference is that they provide the facility of moving elements currently displayed on the Host diagram through the frame to the referenced diagram, the parent Package of the referenced diagram, or both. You can also add the element to the referenced diagram as a link to its current location.

To move or link the element, simply drag it on the current diagram over the Diagram Frame. A dialog displays, listing options to:

  • Move the element to the referenced diagram
  • Create a link to the element on the referenced diagram
  • Move the element to the parent Package
  • Move the element to both the referenced diagram and its parent Package

If you select one of the options to move the element to the referenced diagram, it and any connectors it has are removed from the current diagram and placed in a clear area of the referred diagram. If the element already has relationships with other elements on the diagram, those relationships are included.


  • You can change the size of both objects, but you cannot reduce a Diagram Frame to less than the size of the enclosed diagram
  • You cannot change the diagram within a Diagram Frame; to edit the diagram, double-click within the frame and edit the original diagram
  • The Diagram Frame element is not the same as the diagram frame border that you can set (using the 'Diagram Frames' panel on the 'Diagram' page of the 'Preferences' dialog) on images of diagrams that you print out, copy to file or paste into other tools; it is possible, but not usual, to paste the diagram image from the clipboard into another Enterprise Architect diagram, in which case the image initially looks the same as the Diagram Frame element, but element options do not function on this image

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