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Getting Started

Getting started with a new tool is can be quite daunting even for experienced engineers, but Enterprise Architect makes this easy by providing a number of facilities to assist the newcomer to the tool. Enterprise Architect is a large and multi-featured application and the breadth of its coverage might appear overwhelming to a person new to the program, but fortunately a solution to this has been built into the design. One of the main tool features is perspectives.

You can use Perspectives to limit the functionality to a specific domain or language, such as System Engineering, making it easy for a System Engineer or Manager to get started. A user still can utilize other functionality that might be useful, such as Strategic Modeling, Mind Mapping, Code Engineering, and more, simply by changing Perspectives, all without having to open a different tool. It is worth noting that Perspectives exist for a wide range of modeling disciplines that Enterprise Architect supports.

A user also has tremendous flexibility to tailor their environment and the user interface by setting preferences and selecting workspaces and visual styles.

Setting up a new project is straightforward with the use of the Model Wizard Patterns (with accompanying documentation) that can be utilized to automatically create an MBSE project structure to get you started. You can use the Model Wizard (Start Page 'Create from Pattern' tab) to create any number of SysML diagrams as you develop the model and the problem and solution spaces are fleshed-out.

These and other facilities make it easy for a newcomer to get started, allowing them to become productive members of a team and start contributing to models quickly and without any delay. A novice engineer will be surprised how productive they can be when compared to working in text-based or other more rudimentary modeling tools. There will be challenges along the way as you push yourself and the tool to new limits but a detailed Help system, a large community of users, comprehensive forums, a community site and first-class support services will make the journey easy and informative. You will be able to create expressive diagrams like the following one from the automotive domain, and communicate with engineering colleagues, managers, consultants and customers.

An example of a SysML conceptual diagram in Enterprise Architect.

Setting a Perspective

Enterprise Architect is a tool packed with features for a wide range of disciplines, methods, languages and frameworks. Perspectives provide a way for a user to select a facet of the tool that allows them to focus on a particular subset of the tools features and facilities.  The Systems Engineering group of Perspectives provides a natural starting point for Systems Engineers, but at any point if you decide to use other facilities in the tool you can simply change Perspectives and the tool will change to provide a focus on the selected area.

Selecting one of the Systems Engineering Perspectives will change the tools to focus on the selected aspect of Systems Engineering. For example, choosing the SysML Perspective will display a series of model patterns giving a user a jump start by being able to load a pattern for a standard model fragment or diagram. The 'New Diagram' dialog will also just display SysML diagram types.

Selecting a Workspace

Enterprise Architect has a helpful way of quickly changing the User Interface layout to facilitate particular engineering or management tasks or ways of working. This is achieved by simply selecting a workspace that will change the visible windows and tools to provide the most efficient working method to suit the task. For example, there is a workspace defined for Systems Engineering Simulations, one for Use Case Modeling, and another for Testing. You can also specify any number of your own workspace layouts that you find helpful by opening windows and tools and positioning them in an arrangement that facilitates working on a particular task or set of tasks and saving them. In this example, a modeler has defined three custom workspace layouts.

Setting Up a Model Structure

Enterprise Architect has been designed as a productivity tool from the ground up.  One of the first tasks in a modeling project is setting up a model structure which can sometimes be daunting for the beginner and tedious for the experienced user. Enterprise Architect makes this task simple by using the Model Wizard (Start Page 'Create from Pattern' tab).

You can create the structure for a new initiative (project) using the Model Wizard, which will produce an entire project structure that can be tailored on import, providing all the Packages ready to start the project.

The repository structure is a subject that is explored in a later topic because it is critical to the success of a model-based engineering approach to Systems Engineering. We will learn later that Packages are essential units in the organization and maintenance of a model repository. There is an entire topic dedicated to using Packages to structure the repository. For more information, see the Model Wizard Help topic.