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Adding Model Content

Enterprise Architect allows you to add content in a variety of ways. Regardless of what type of modeling you are doing there are a number of convenient ways you can get your content into the model. The content you add will depend on what type of modeling you are doing, for example a strategist might add drivers, goals and objectives, a requirements engineer could enter text-based requirements and a database owner would typically add database objects such as tables and views. The method you chose will depend on your modeling context, for example at the time you are setting up a repository it would be common to import lists of elements from a spreadsheet. The most common ways to add content to a repository are:

  • Diagramming using the toolboxes
  • Using the Browser
  • Model from Patterns
  • Specification Manager
  • Importing from a Spreadsheet
  • Importing Images from Files or the clipboard
  • Copying from another repository

Diagramming

Creating diagrams is one of the easiest and most common ways to add content to your repository. When you add elements and connectors from the toolbox to a new or existing diagram these elements and connectors are also created and added to the package that contains the diagram. The added elements will be immediately visible in the Browser window. In the following example, a modeler has added a new requirement and a use case to the diagram and connected them using a UML realization relationship.

Diagram showing how elements and connectors can be created with diagrams.

As the elements  are added from the toolbox window they are simultaneously added to the Browser window and will appear in the same package as the diagram. (Connectors are not displayed in the Browser but in a series of other windows.)

Browser window showing element and diagram

Using the Browser

The Browser window is the key mechanism for navigating through a repository and is also important when adding content. You select a location in the tree (typically a Package or Element) and this will be the point in the repository where new content will be added. There are four things that you might want to add to your repository as follows:

  • Patterns
  • Packages
  • Diagrams
  • Elements

There is a convenient toolbar at the top of the browser window that provides options for inserting new items into the repository as well as a number of other options for moving items up and down the tree.

Browser toolbar and tabs showing useful icons such as the new model wizard and package icon.

The Hamburger menu provides more options including to insert an element directly into the repository without using a diagram. The Browser window has a number of tabs that conveniently let you focus on particular parts of your model including the:

  • Entire Project
  • Item in Context,
  • Current Diagram or
  • Resources

Model from Patterns

Enterprise Architect has a productivity tool that will get you started modeling quickly and ensure your models comply with industry and tool best practices. Experts at Sparx Systems have created a catalog of pre-built model fragments called Model Patterns. Regardless of what you want to model, there will invariably be one or more patterns available to get you started. The pattern documentation shows you what to expect from the pattern and how to work with it. You can then choose a location in the Browser window and inject the pattern, including elements and diagrams, into your own repository. Typically the elements, connectors, and diagrams in a pattern will have generic names that you can change to suit your project. The pattern library is a living catalog and new patterns are added as the industry develops new standards and best practices.

Browser toolbar and tabs showing useful icons such as New Model From Pattern.

Whenever you change perspectives the available patterns will conveniently be displayed, or you can directly launch the Model Wizard at any time from the Browser window toolbar or from the 'Model Wizard' icon on the 'Package' panel of the Design ribbon.

Model Wizard showing patterns from the Requirements perspective.

Specification Manager

The Specification Manager is a great tool for viewing or adding content to the repository using a familiar word processor or spreadsheet-style interface. It is particularly useful when you have a list of items that contain descriptive names and textual descriptions such as Requirements and Capabilities, but it can be used for any element, including information classes, processes, decisions, and more. It is a refreshing alternative to working with diagrams and a welcomed method for many business and technical team members who create or view catalogs of items. You can switch to other views from the Specification Manager, such as lists, diagrams, and Gantt views.

Specification manager showing inline (spreadsheet) view of elements, notes and editable properties.

For those modelers or stakeholders accustomed to working with spreadsheets or word processor documents, the tool will seem natural and emulates both these modes of visualization, allowing you to toggle between spreadsheet mode and document mode quickly.

Importing from a Spreadsheet

Enterprise Architect has a useful facility to import (or export) content from a spreadsheet using a comma-separated values (csv) file. Any data in your favorite spreadsheet can be exported to a csv file and imported using a simple and intuitive interface where you specify which properties you want the data to be added to. You can also export data from Enterprise Architect into a spreadsheet if required.  There are a number of tools that enable you to do this, but the most straightforward of these is available from the Publish ribbon.

Facility to specify the fields to be exchanged between Enterprise Architect and a Spreadsheet.

More Information: Import and Export a Spreadsheet

Importing Images

Using Enterprise Architect, you can create expressive diagrams that comply with standards and industry best practices and also include compelling vector or raster-based images that will bring your diagrams to life and delight your audience. Many newcomers to modeling feel that they are straight-jacketed by the modeling languages and cannot create the type of diagrams that will appeal to their customers or managers - but with Enterprise Architect, you can have the best of both worlds.

Using the tool, you can include any number of images into a library or directly into the repository and then use those images freely on any diagram. You can import your images as a set at the start of a project or just as you need them for a particular diagram.

Viewing an image in the Image Manager in Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect.

Image Manager showing a range of generic images in vector format including the marketing metafile being displayed.

Copying from another Repository

You can import modeled content from other repositories into the current repository in a number of ways, including:

  • Simple copy and paste using the clipboard
  • Exporting and Importing a section of the model using xmi import/export
  • Model transfer which will copy an entire repository (including reference data)

Content can also be injected into a repository from a Reusable Asset Service, which your administrator or librarian would set up. You can also exchange Reference data such as status and priority codes by exporting them from one repository and importing them into another using the Transfer options on the Settings ribbon.