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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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The Context Buttons

When you select an element on a diagram, or add a new element, a number of small icons display off the right hand side of the element underneath the Quick Linker arrow (); for example:

A UML State element showing the element icons (floaties) to the right of its resize handles.

These icons display context menus and/or toolbars of diagramming options or perform specific actions, to help you quickly edit the element you have highlighted. If you do not want to show or use these icons, you can prevent their display by deselecting the 'Show buttons for selected Object on diagram' checkbox on the 'Objects' page of the 'Preferences' dialog.

Also, if an element shown in the diagram is locked, and the 'Display Element Lock Status' option is selected in the 'Properties' dialog for the diagram, a locking indicator is displayed outside the top left hand corner of the element. The indicator is the same as the exclamation mark (!) against a locked element in the Browser window:

  • Red if the element is under a full lock or locked by another user
  • Blue if the element is under a lock set by yourself or by a user in the same User Group as yourself

You might also see, on the left hand side of the element, another floating icon (). This displays when:

  • In the 'Diagram' tab of the Properties window for the diagram, in the 'Connectors' section, the 'Show Feature Linker' checkbox is selected, and
  • The element name or an operation, attribute or reception within the element is selected and highlighted

The icon helps you to create a relationship between the selected feature in one element and another element or a feature within it. See the Feature Quick Linker Help topic.

Icon Use



See also

Click on this icon to display a context menu of options for operating on the selected element or elements. The common set of options are as shown:

You can use these options to:

  • Set a lock on the selected element
  • Display details of the element's properties and characteristics on the 'Details' tab of the Inspector window
  • Open the Design, Collaborate and Execute Window Selectors, to select windows and dialogs to edit the element's properties and features
  • Open the Discuss & Review window at the 'Journal', 'Discuss' or 'Review' tabs, or the 'Model Message' dialog; if appropriate, an option is also provided to access the 'Chat' tab of the Chat & Mail window
  • Locate the element in the 'Project' tab of the Browser window, or in any other diagrams in which it is used
  • Display the Help topic describing the element type
Locking Model Elements Inspector - Details Teams & Collaboration The Window Selectors

Click on this icon to display a toolbar and context menu of options for operating on the element appearance, to change the appearance of the element. If you select the icon for a single element , the toolbar and options appear as shown:

The toolbar icons, in order of display, enable you to set the element's text font, text color, fill color, border color, and border line width, or to set the element fill color to a previously-sampled color, or to sample (copy and store) the current element fill color.

The context menu options enable you to:

  • Define the border, font and background colors and the border thickness for the selected element, as its default appearance wherever it is used
  • Reapply the appearance of the element as specifically defined for that element on this diagram
  • Reapply the defined default appearance of the element
  • Change the element's appearance to either a new default image or an alternative image, using the Image Manager; this appearance applies to the element on all diagrams in which it is used
  • Display the 'Select Element' browser, and locate an Image Asset element containing the required image to use for the selected element
  • Define which features and characteristics of the selected element are shown in compartments of the element on the diagram, using the 'Compartment Visibility' dialog
  • For elements that do not have the default rectangle/compartment rendition, such as Use Cases and Actors, toggle display of the element between their default shape and rectangular notation

If you select this icon on an element within a group of selected elements, further options are listed, as shown:

The additional options on the toolbar enable you to:

  • Align the left, right, bottom or top borders of the elements in the group with the appropriate edge of the selected element
  • Bring the selected elements further forward or further back in the diagram relative to the unselected elements
  • Make all elements in the group the same height as the selected element, the same width, or both

An additional context menu option - 'Layout Selected' - enables you to apply one of the ten diagram layout styles (other than Fan Relations), or to apply a style with finer control through the Layout Tools window.

Layout Diagrams Z Order Elements Set an Element's Default Appearance Rectangle Notation Feature Visibility Alignment Panel

If an element has a linked diagram, such as child composite diagram, click on this icon off the right hand side of the element - an image of the linked diagram is shown in a floating Diagram pop-up window; click off the diagram or press the Backslash key to close the window again or double-click in the Diagram pop-up window to open the diagram in the main view area.

(Displays if the diagram has the 'Custom Styles' option selected.) Click on this icon to display a toolbar for applying custom diagram style options to the selected element or elements. The toolbar enables you to set the element:

  • Shape
  • Fill opacity
  • Name and Notes text position and orientation
  • Icon size, position and padding
  • Border line style
  • Outline stacking direction and the number of outlines in the stack
Custom Diagram Styles

Click on this icon to rotate a Fork/Join element from vertical to horizontal or vice-versa.


On a Package element, displays two further icons to generate:

  • A document file using the 'Generate Documentation' dialog, or a
  • Web page document using the 'Publish as HTML' dialog
Create an HTML Report Basic Document Generation

(Or ) Click on this icon to toggle an Activity Partition between vertical and horizontal.

Activity Partition

Indicates that the Interaction Fragment currently contains messages; in this state you can:

  • Move the fragment vertically, but not horizontally; all elements and messages below the fragment move up or down by the same amount
  • Resize the fragment to larger than the contained messages/elements, but not smaller

This is the default condition when you open or reload a diagram containing a fragment. You can click on the icon to toggle to 'move freely' mode.

Combined Fragment
Interaction Fragment icon

Indicates that the Interaction Fragment can be moved independently of the Messages or other elements contained within the fragment.

This is the default condition when you first create the fragment. You can click on the icon to toggle to 'contains messages' mode (earlier).

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