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Collaboration Support in Diagrams

Enterprise Architect provides a simple yet extremely useful facility to notify you immediately via the current diagram when any Discussion postings are made concerning elements on the diagram, or when Chat postings are made to you by specific users or groups. Having seen the notification, you can click on it to get instant access to the conversation, without having to establish who sent the message, on what element, or by what means. Two applications of this facility are:

  • You can set up a diagram that monitors Chats with your team members or other regular project contacts (each represented by an Actor element), notifying you of any Chat messages from each of them and allowing you to immediately respond to each message without having to establish connections in the Collaborate window; you could display this diagram as a floating diagram parked in a convenient section of your work area
  • You can work on and discuss elements in the diagram and maintain the conversation without having to re-establish focus in the Collaborate window and in the diagram with each exchange

As an additional boost to your work, a context menu is available against each element on any diagram, containing options that give you instant access to the tabs of the Collaborate window and the 'Model Message' dialog.

There are three steps in the process of setting up Collaboration Support in a diagram:

  • Create/open and populate the diagram in which you will be working and/or monitoring for new Discussion or Chat posts
  • Set a flag on elements in the diagram and on Chat user groups to monitor for messages (not required for messages from individual users)
  • Set a value for the 'Support Collaboration' option in the diagram 'Properties' dialog

Set Up Diagram

If you want to monitor Discussions on elements that you are working on in a diagram, you can do so in any type of diagram containing any type of element. Simply create or open the appropriate diagram and add and/or configure the required elements.

If you want to monitor Chat messages from certain people (team members, other project groups, internal stakeholders; anyone who is defined in User Security as a user or member of a user group) you add an Actor element to the diagram for each one of those people or groups. In theory you could add the Actor to any diagram that you might be working in, but it is far more practical to hold all your 'Collaboration' Actors in one separate diagram (a Use Case diagram for preference) that is always available to monitor receipt of messages during the day.

In either case:

  1. Create/open the diagram and add to it the required number of Actor elements (perhaps use the 'Add Multiple Elements' facility - see the Add Multiple Elements Help topic).
  2. Give each Actor element the name of the security user or user group it represents.
  3. For each Actor element, in the 'Alias' field of the Properties window, type the user ID of the user that the element represents. If the Actor represents a user group, give the group ID the prefix group :: - for example:
          group:: LOB_analysis
  4. Ask each user to place a user lock (or, for a user group, a group lock) on their Actor element, to allow 'locking user' identification of the element during the monitoring process. This also gives the user ownership of the Actor element for other purposes, and provides a level of security for their communications with you.

Your discussions diagram might resemble this:

The diagram contains three individual users, a user group, and an element against which discussion items can be raised.

Set Monitoring On

In order to display a notification whenever a user posts to a Discussion thread on an element, or to a group Chat with you, you need to first set the 'Monitoring' flag on the appropriate elements and/or Chat User Groups.

To set up monitoring for Discussions on elements, right-click on the element in the diagram and select the 'Collaborate | Monitor Discussions' option. For further information, see the Informal Discussions Help topic. You must also set the interval between checks for new messages, as part of this process.

To set up monitoring for Chat User Groups, display the 'Chat' tab of the Collaborate window, click on the options icon in the top right corner, select the 'Monitor Groups for New Messages' option and select the User Group to monitor. For further information see the Model Chat Help topic. You must also set the interval between checks for new messages, as part of this process.

Messages sent to and from Chat threads with individual users (User Chats) are automatically monitored and display a notification without a flag specifically being set.

Set 'Support Collaboration' on the Diagram

The third step for enabling Discussion and Chat notifications on a diagram is to provide a value for the 'Support Collaboration' option in the diagram 'Properties' dialog.

Open the diagram, right-click on the background, select the 'Properties' option and, on the 'Properties' dialog, select the 'Element' tab. At the bottom right of the tab is the 'Support Collaboration' option.

Click on the drop-down arrow and select a value.

  • Select 'None' to turn off Collaboration Support on the diagram for both Discussions and Chats, so no notifications of messages will be shown on the diagram
  • Select any other value to activate Collaboration Support for Discussions; any element for which a Discussion message has been posted that you have not yet displayed will show a notification icon off the top left corner
  • The other values operate on Actor elements that represent the project members and groups defined in User Security; when a Chat message is received by you from another project member, a notification icon displays on the diagram to the right of the Actor element representing that person
  • Select 'With Alias' to check the Actor elements to locate the one that has the poster's user ID or group ID in the 'Alias' field; the Chat notification icon is displayed against that Actor element
  • Select 'With Locking User' to check the Actor elements for the one that has been locked under the poster's user ID or group ID; the Chat notification icon is displayed against that Actor element
  • Select 'With Both' to check both characteristics of the Actor elements - firstly for the user ID that locked the element and, if that is not found, for the 'Alias' field containing the poster's user ID

Click on the OK button to save the setting.

The Support Collaboration Facility in Operation

Using the example in the Set Up Diagram section, let us suppose that Hugh has sent a Chat message to the diagram owner. In the diagram, the owner sees the Chat notification icon appear against the 'Hugh' Actor element.

If the 'Chat' tab of the Collaboration window is open, the owner can click on the Actor element to immediately display the latest message on the tab, with the cursor positioned ready to create a reply to that message. If the 'Chat' tab is not displayed, the owner can click on the notification icon, which will open the 'Chat' tab and show the Chat conversation, again ready to enter a response to the message.

If the 'Team Meeting Items' element has a Discussion item posted against it, the element will show the Discussion notification icon:

Again, if the 'Discuss' tab is not displayed, clicking on the icon opens the tab ready to continue the Discussion; if the tab is displayed, clicking on the element puts this Discussion in focus on the tab.

Context Menus

If you click on this icon, a short context menu displays with options that open the Collaborate window at the 'Comment', 'Discuss' and 'Review' tabs, and the 'Model Message' dialog respectively. Where Chat messages are possible, the 'Chat' option is also enabled. The same options are also available via the right-click context menu, 'Collaborate' option.

You can therefore open out your conversations on an element to include Comments, Reviews and Model Mail messages.

Note that when you click on the 'Send Message' option and display the 'Model Message' dialog, it automatically contains two hyperlinks - one to the selected element, and one to the diagram that contains the selected element. You specify the recipients of the message, and those people can use the links to directly access the diagram and element under discussion. The exception is if you have selected an Actor element with a user ID in the element's 'Alias' field; in this case the message is automatically addressed to the user represented by the Actor, but does not automatically contain any hyperlinks. You can simply send a message directly to the other user.

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