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Moving Visio Diagrams into Enterprise Architect


This document outlines the substantial benefits of transforming a static Microsoft Visio diagram into a comprehensive Enterprise Architect model that supports data re-use, traceability, project management, software engineering, simulation, validation and much, much more.

Migrating from Visio to Enterprise Architect helps you to better utilize existing data across the whole enterprise.

Sparx Systems' MDG Link for MS Visio is the path by which you can migrate your MS Visio diagrams into Enterprise Architect, both quickly and easily.

Learn how to import Visio diagrams into an Enterprise Architect model and exploit the value of your data throughout the entire life cycle of your project.

Figure 1: Step up from diagramming in Visio, to modelling in Enterprise Architect.

Limitations of Microsoft Visio

Although Visio enables users to record substantial amounts of information in their diagrams - information about elements, such as their names, constraints, tagged values and more - in many cases the information becomes locked away in dialogs and is not accessible to the people who need it most. This valuable information is not shown on the diagrams and it is not available for reuse in other phases of your project either.

For example, Visio's Activity Diagrams can record parameters to Activities, pre-conditions and post-conditions, even Guard expressions on the transitions between Actions, but for all the effort invested in entering the information into Visio, much of that information is not displayed on the diagram and can only be viewed by selecting an element, then opening a properties dialog.

Visio traps information, inhibiting communication and restricting opportunities to re-use the information in other phases of the project.

Figure 2: The description of the Action is not displayed on the diagram. It can only be accessed by opening the Properties dialog.

Some typical questions that arise when using MS Visio:

  • I want to create Activity Diagrams from my Use Cases - do I have to re-enter the same information all over again for the Activities?

  • How can I generate a report that shows which of my Requirements are covered by my Use Cases?

  • I have drawn my Static Structure Diagram in Visio, now how can I get that information into a tool that will generate source code, reports and documentation?

  • I have exported my Visio Static Structure Diagram as XMI, but Visual Studio® won't import it. What can I do now?

Moving from Visio to Enterprise Architect

Migrating from Microsoft Visio to Enterprise Architect is easy. Doing so allows you to take all of the design information you have already collected and re-use it throughout the full life cycle of your project.

Very few tools can directly read the files created by Visio. XMI files provide a way to exchange information between different tools and although Visio has the capability of exporting semantic information contained within its diagrams to an XMI file, it does not provide access to this functionality through its user interface. You are expected to write a script that calls an API function in order to export to XMI.

Even then, the XMI that Visio exports uses XMI version 1.0. Microsoft Visual Studio® can NOT import this format - it requires XMI version 2.1.

Sparx Systems have developed an Add-In for their award-winning UML based software development tool, Enterprise Architect, that directly imports Visio diagrams into Enterprise Architect.

Once your hard won information is saved into Enterprise Architect, you can begin to take advantage of all that Enterprise Architect has to offer.

Advantages of Enterprise Architect over Visio

For less than the price of MS Visio, Enterprise Architect gives you the ability to produce high quality diagrams both quickly and easily, and much, much more...

Diagrams are just the beginning, Enterprise Architect also gives you:

  • Requirements Management:

  • Project Management: Extensive support for project management including resources, tasks, project calendar, Gantt view and metrics

  • Report Generation: Produce detailed reports in PDF, DocX, HTML or RTF format

  • Code Engineering: Support for over a dozen languages out of the box

  • Visual Execution Analysis: Profile and debug or record sequence diagrams from executing applications

  • Test Management: Built-in test point management, model-based test execution, test case specification and support for JUnit and NUnit

  • Centralized Data: Project data is held in a single repository, accessed by business analysts, software architects, developers, project managers, testers, roll-out and support staff

  • Globally Distributed Teams: Use Cloud Services to easily connect to your project from anywhere in the world

  • Scalability: Extremely large models and many concurrent users are handled with ease

  • Speed: Enjoy spectacularly fast performance

  • Usability: Get up and running with UML, quickly and easily

  • Value: Priced so you can outfit the entire team, Enterprise Architect makes collaboration and team development cost effective.

When you are ready for more, Enterprise Architect delivers.

Using Enterprise Architect Throughout Your Organization

Enterprise Architect offers many advantages over MS Visio and provides a rich feature set that will boost productivity throughout your organization.

From concept to delivery...

Enterprise Architect offers support for every aspect of your project. From brainstorming business goals with Mind Maps, to gathering Requirements, modelling the system, document generation, forward and reverse Code Engineering, Testing, Debugging, Project Management, right through to Deployment and Maintenance. On top of all of that, Enterprise Architect gives you the ability to trace information, from concept to delivery.

So, let's look at how you will benefit from moving to Enterprise Architect.

Let's say you have a collection of Use Case diagrams in Visio, where you have recorded lots of information about your new business processes. You might even have detailed requirements for the new system recorded in a Word® document.

...but where do you go now?

  • How do you move from the Use Cases to Activity Diagrams?

  • How can you trace your Requirements to Use Cases or to Actions?

  • Eventually, you will want to have Test Cases. How can you trace these back to the original Requirements?

Enterprise Architect provides complete, integrated support for all of these scenarios, in each phase of the development life cycle, all within the one tool.

Gather your Requirements

Enterprise Architect allows you to easily record the Requirements for your system.

The List View allows you to browse the Requirements in a package, as a list. The list shows various attributes associated with the Requirement elements, such as Status, Priority and Phase. You can sort and group items in the list based on the various columns of data.

To add a new Requirement, simply click on the New button, enter a name and add the Requirement's description in the Notes field.

Figure 3: The Package Browser allows you to view the contents of a package as a list, sorting and grouping the elements by the various columns of data.

The new Specification Manager provides a "document style" view of the selected package, where you can create and edit specifications with the simplicity of a text editor. It also provides quick access to a number of Team Review functions, Project Management activities and Report Generation capabilities.

Figure 4: The Specification Manager offers yet another view of the elements in a package. It provides a quick and easy way to review and edit specifications, such as Requirements.

You can even drag lines of text from a document and drop them straight onto a Requirements Diagram as new Requirement elements, or you can drag and drop a document file onto a diagram to create a Document Artifact. Either element type can then be linked to other model elements, such as Actions or an Activity diagram to provide a reference for traceability.

Figure 5: Enterprise Architect allows you to drag selected text from an editor and drop it onto a diagram to create a new Requirement element in your model.

Whether it's a Requirement element or a Document Artifact, it is saved in the model database as a part of the model - you will always know where to find it. That also means it can be locked using project security, added to version control or audited, just like any other part of the model.

Import your Diagrams from Visio

Importing Visio diagrams into Enterprise Architect is a simple process.

Sparx Systems have developed an Add-In that manages the process and the section entitled "Importing Visio Diagrams into Enterprise Architect" later in this document, guides you through its use.

Import your Use Case Diagrams and Activity Diagrams from Visio into Enterprise Architect, then extend and enhance those diagrams or create new diagrams as necessary.

Link Requirements to Use Cases and Use Cases to Activities

The Requirements can then be linked to Use Cases and the Use Cases to Activities, providing traceability.

Enterprise Architect allows you to attach a Scenario description to a Use Case and then parse that information to create a Structured Specification.

From a Structured Specification, Enterprise Architect can then generate an Activity Diagram. Actions can be further broken down into Structured Specifications, from which you can generate sub-process Activity Diagrams.

Figure 6: Enterprise Architect will generate Activity Diagrams, based on the Structured Specification of Use Cases.

Of course, everything is linked back through the previous step to the original Requirements, so you can trace from beginning to end. These linked elements can be displayed in Enterprise Architect's Traceability window, allowing you to drill down through many levels of relationships, all within the same tool.

Figure 7: Enterprise Architect's Traceability window allows you to "drill down" through the relationships within your model.

Activity Diagrams can be "executed", using Enterprise Architect's simulation engine, to verify the correctness of your model.

Do you need to provide reports, tailored to meet the needs of different stakeholders in your project?

Enterprise Architect provides a powerful template driven report generation facility, to extract the data you want from your model and format it into professional reports for the many different stakeholders in your project.

Figure 8: A powerful report generator provides many customisable templates, to tailor your reports to specific audiences.

The ability to re-use existing data, in downstream phases of your development process is a key feature of Enterprise Architect. Any information that you enter into Enterprise Architect, can be accessed for re-use in all other areas of your project. It can even be accessed and re-used in other projects! So, instead of re-entering the same data into another tool, or into the same tool for a different diagram, let Enterprise Architect give you back that time and free-up your creative genius.

Other Key Features of Enterprise Architect

Enterprise Architect uses a highly scalable repository, and provides extensive support for team based modelling through features such as: Cloud Services connection, Re-usable Assets Services, Model Mail, Workflow Scripting, Role Based Security, Diagram Locking, integrated version control and model auditing.

Enterprise Architect supports:

  • Diagramming in BPMN 2.0

  • Simulation of Activity, Sequence and State Machine diagrams

  • Generation of executable code from behavioural models

  • Forward and reverse engineering of programme source code in over 10 different languages - allowing you to synchronise your model with your source code and vice-versa

  • Modelling of database schema and automatic generation of DDL scripts for eleven different DBMS targets out-of-the-box

  • UML 2.4.1 based modelling and all 14 UML 2.x diagram types.

Visit for a full list of Enterprise Architect's features.

Enterprise Architect is affordable and is available now for download from the Sparx Systems web site, for quick and easy installation.

< Importing Visio Diagrams into Enterprise Architect >

Acknowledgement of Trademarks

Trademarks of Microsoft

Visio®, Visual Studio®, Word®, Windows®.

Trademarks of Sparx Systems

Enterprise Architect®, MDG Link®.