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Chain Diagram Layouts

Each of the diagram layout formats has a specific effect on the layout and appearance of a diagram. These effects can be combined by chaining certain layouts in a sequence, to further improve the final appearance of the diagram. Enterprise Architect provides a selection of standard 'chains' for your use, and you can quickly and easily set up chains of your own.

The system does not restrict the way in which you combine the layouts, but in practice some layouts complement each other better than others, or are more logically executed in a certain order. You therefore need to consider the effect of each layout on the diagram - or part of the diagram - as you develop the chain. You also provide parameters for each layout, so you would set the parameters for each format to complement those for the other formats in the chain, using the 'Layout Chains' dialog.

The available formats could be grouped by impact on the diagram:

  • Circle, Ellipse, Box, Per Page, Digraph and Spring each adjust element positions completely, so would destroy the effects of any other layout if used after it in a chain; one of these would therefore be the first layout to apply in the chain
  • Fan Relations operates on a specific element, so you might not want to further adjust the diagram layout; if you did, you would only use these next layouts
  • Converge/Diverge could be used after some of the preceding layouts, to broaden or narrow the final layout
  • Neaten is a logical successor to the previous types, adjusting positions to provide more uniform separation
  • Auto-route is the best final layout, to adjust connectors to the clearest routes without changing element positions

In creating a chain of layouts, you might consider these suggestions in selecting which layouts to use and in which sequence.



Layout > Tools > Diagram Layout > Open Diagram Layout Tools: Edit Layout Chains icon


Right-click on any toolbar | Diagram Layout Tools: Edit Layout Chains icon

Set up a chain

On the 'Layout Chains' dialog:



See also



  • Click on the New Chain button and type in a new chain name (and click on the OK button) or
  • Click on the drop-down arrow and select the name of an existing chain to edit

If you want to delete the existing chain you have selected, click on the Delete Chain button.

If you want to rename the existing chain, click on the Chain Name button and overtype the existing name with the new name (and click on the OK button).


In the 'Existing Layouts' field, click on the first layout to execute in the chain, then click on the Add Lay button to add it to the chain.

Repeat this step to add further layouts to the chain.


If you do not want to include a layout that is currently in the chain, click on it and click on the Remove Layer button.

If you want to move a layout in the chain to a different point in the sequence, click on it and click on the Move up or Down green arrow icon button as appropriate.


If you want to change the name of a layout, click once on the name in the chain list and overtype it.

To set the parameters of each layout, double-click on the layout name in the chain list. The appropriate parameter dialog for the layout displays; complete the fields as appropriate and click on the OK button.

These are the parameters that will be applied whenever you execute this layout chain, regardless of the settings in any other use of the layout.

Circular/Elliptical Layout Box Layout Per Page Layout Digraph Layout Spring Layout Neaten Layout Converge/Diverge Layout Fan Relations Layout Auto Route Layout


Click on the Save Chains button to save your changes, then click on the OK button.

(If you have not saved your changes, an error message displays; click on the Yes button.)

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