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Kanban Options

Enterprise Architect provides a number of options for generating a new Kanban diagram or for opening an existing Kanban diagram. Having opened the diagram, you can define its structure, content and appearance. It is also possible to configure a diagram of any other type to be a Kanban diagram, by simply adding Kanban properties to it. This useful design feature means that a diagram containing, for example, a set of User Stories could simply be changed to a Kanban diagram and the team could immediately begin using this flexible, lean, project management method.

To define the structure, content and appearance of a Kanban diagram, you use the 'Kanban' dialog.

Configuring lanes for a Kanban Diagram in Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect.

When you display the 'Kanban' dialog, it defaults to the 'Configuration' page. You use this page to:

  • Set up basic Kanban properties, such as whether Kanban is enabled on the diagram, if the names are shown in the title bar of the diagram and if the width of each swimlane is locked, and
  • Create, modify and delete the primary lanes on a Kanban diagram; you can:
         -  Create the lanes manually, or define a property that the lanes bind to, so that the lanes
            are generated automatically from that property when you click on the Fill from binding button
         -  Add lanes that are not bound to the property
    For each lane you can define:
         -  The maximum number of elements that can be placed in the lane before triggering
            the 'Overfilled' indicator
         -  The fill color of the lane
         -  Whether it is the default lane that new elements are added to



Construct > Resource Management > Kanban > (options to generate and/or open a Kanban diagram)    or

Start > Personal > My Kanban (displays personal default Kanban diagram)


Design > Diagram > Manage > Kanban (on an open Kanban diagram)

Context Menu

In the Browser window, right-click on the diagram name | Kanban

On a diagram, right-click on the background | Kanban

Configuration Options



See also


Select the checkbox to apply any of the Kanban functionality to the diagram. If the checkbox is not selected, the diagram will behave as a non-Kanban diagram.

Show Names in Title Bar

Select this checkbox to display the lane names (but not the sub-lane names) in the diagram title bar, above the lanes. These will be visible once the lanes are defined.

When you have several elements in a column and scroll down to the lower ones, the Lane headings disappear from view, so the names in the Title Bar continue to identify the lane names.

Swimlane width locked

Select this checkbox to prevent the lanes in the diagram from being made narrower or wider.

Bind Kanban to

Click on the Browse. button and select the property to bind lanes to. This will be one of:

  • Element, or
  • Tagged Value (enumeration or string types only), or
  • None (makes all lanes unbound).

If you select 'Element', also select one of the properties 'Phase', 'Version', 'Priority' (for Requirement-type elements), 'Status' or 'Author'.

If you select 'Tagged Value', also choose to either 'Create' a new tag (and simply type in the name) or 'Select' an existing one.

In the latter case, the 'Kanban Tagged Value selection' dialog displays, on which you click on the appropriate radio button to select either from a list of 'Global Tagged Values', or from a list of 'Tagged Values from a selected element'. Click on the Select Element button to browse for the element anywhere in the model.

The Global Tagged Values or those from the element are provided to the 'Tagged Value' field. Click on the drop-down arrow on the right of the field and select the reference Tagged Value from those listed. Click on the OK button.

The 'Bind Kanban to' field now displays either the element property or the Tagged Value you have selected.

When you move an element between two 'Bound' lanes, a pop-up prompt displays for you to confirm the move. Click on the prompt to make the move, or click elsewhere on the diagram to abort the move. This prevents users from moving elements between lanes by accident.

Read-only Bind

Select this checkbox to make the effects of binding Kanban lanes read-only. This means a user can move elements between lanes and make various element formatting changes, but the bound property value is not updated and the element position is not captured. If another user views the diagram, or the first user closes the diagram and it is subsequently re-opened, the moved elements are in their original positions.

Fill from binding

If you have chosen an element property to bind the Kanban lanes to, click on the Fill from binding button to fill the lane list with existing values of that property. This will delete all old lanes before creating a new lane for each of the new values. Once the lanes have been created in this way, they can be renamed, reordered and added to.


The name of each lane can be filled automatically using the Fill from binding button. You can overtype the names; these do not have to be unique but they cannot be blank.

Max Items

You can set the maximum number of elements that can be placed in each lane. If someone tries to move an element into a lane that has reached or exceeded its maximum number, the heading of the lane will be displayed in the 'Overfilled' color you define and enable on the 'Appearance' page. This gives a visual indication that action might have to be taken to clear what appears to be a bottleneck in the workflow process.


Several or all of the lanes can have the same fill color, or you can set a different color for each lane independent of the other lanes. Either:

  • Leave the 'Color' value set to 'Default' (set on the 'Preferences' dialog, 'Gradients and Background' page), or
  • Overtype 'Default' with the hex code number for the required color, or
  • Click on the drop-down arrow and select a color from the displayed palette

The actual color is shown in the box at the left of the field.

Diagram Gradients and Background


You can nominate one of your lanes as the default; that is, the lane does not assign a bound property value to the lane title, and therefore can be filled with varied elements such as those added to the chart by a Kanban search. So if you had three lanes bound on the status values 'In Testing', 'Pass' and 'Fail', for instance, with the 'In Testing' lane being the default lane, and you added an element that had the status of 'Not Run', it would be placed into the 'In Testing' lane instead of being placed out on the right hand edge of the diagram past all the lanes.

You can only select one 'Default' checkbox; clicking on one checkbox clears any previously-selected checkbox.

Bind to Left

The 'Bind to Left' property essentially makes a primary lane the same as a sub-lane. Moving an element into a 'Bind to Left' lane will set the element's bound property to the left-most bound lane. Consider a 'Phase' Kanban diagram with these lanes, in order:

  • To Do (Default, Not Bound)
  • Implement (Bound)
  • To Do (Bind to Left)
  • Review (Bound)
  • To Do (Bind to Left)
  • Deploy (Bound)

Newly added elements will be added to the left-most 'To Do' lane with whatever priority value they previously had. Moving them to the 'Implement' lane will then set the phase to 'Implement'. When the implementation is complete, the element can be moved to the 'To Do' lane before 'Review' without updating the element's phase until it is moved into the 'Review' lane.


Select the checkbox to set the property binding to 'Not Bound' for the lane, so that the element property is not changed when the element moves into that lane. You might set the lane to 'Not-Bound' if, for example, the lane captures elements that have fallen out of the normal process and need to be assessed according to the property value when the problem arose. The lane has a property value, but it is not applied to the element.


Click on this button to define a new lane on the Kanban diagram.


Click on a line in the 'Lanes' list and click on this button to position the cursor in the 'Name' field in update mode, and to highlight the lane you are modifying to make it easier to focus on the fields you might change.


Click on a line in the 'Lanes' list and click on this button to delete the lane.


Click on an entry in the 'Lanes' list and click on this button to move the entry one line up in the list, and one lane to the left on the diagram.

Down icon

Click on an entry in the 'Lanes' list and click on this button to move the entry one line down in the list, and one lane to the right on the diagram.


  • The elements in a Kanban diagram individually represent work in progress; you cannot create connectors between elements on the diagram
  • If you apply a Kanban definition to a current diagram, all connectors on the diagram are hidden; when you de-activate the definition, the connectors are shown again
  • When you first set up a Kanban diagram, any element on the diagram that does not have one of the defined property values is moved to the right-hand side of the diagram
  • Moving an element into a lane automatically sets the appropriate property of that element to the value represented by the lane; for a Tagged Value, if the element does not have that tag, adding the element to the lane adds the tag and sets it to the lane value
  • Elements on a Kanban diagram are automatically adjusted to match the width of the lane they are in, both when the element is moved into a lane and when the lane width is changed
  • Certain types of element are automatically excluded from a Kanban diagram search; these are:
         -  Constraint
         -  Port
         -  ProvidedInterface
         -  RequiredInterface
         -  Boundary
         -  Hyperlink
         -  State Node (such as Choice and Junction)
         -  Text
         -  Win32
         -  Wireframing
         -  Package
         -  Diagram Frame
         -  Activity Region
         -  Sequence Element
         -  Note
         -  Standard Chart
         -  Model View
         -  Time Series Chart

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