How to Design a Geodatabase with Enterprise Architect

Webinar February 2014

How can you use state-of-the-art modeling tools to design and document your geodatabases?
How do you link and trace existing geodatabases with other parts of your corporate model?

Ben Constable, Senior Analyst at Sparx Systems, answers these important questions and shows you how to:
  • Design an ArcGIS geodatabase from scratch
  • Validate, document, search and trace your design model
  • Auto-generate and reverse engineer geodatabase schemas

Explore the Example Geodatabase Design UML Model

We have provided a copy of the Enterprise Architect model that was used in the webinar, along with the generated schema and model queries.

Example model: house-smart-meter-example-geodatabase-model.eap
Generated XML workspace document: house-meter-geodatabase.xml
ArcGIS model queries: arcgis-model-custom-queries.xml

Questions from the Audience

Click on a question to see the answer.


Which version of Enterprise Architect were you using?

Enterprise Architect 11 was used during the demonstration. Nearly all of the demonstrated functionality, however, is available in the latest release of Enterprise Architect 10 (Build 1010). For this webinar topic, the only notable differences between versions 10 and 11 are the availability of enhanced report templates in Enterprise Architect 11 and the expanded ArcGIS context menu available when you select a Workspace package in the Project Browser.

When will Enterprise Architect 11 be released?

A public beta release of Enterprise Architect 11 is already available. See the beta release web page for details. The date of the general availability (GA) release has not been provided at this stage.

Can we reuse existing UML models that we created using Visio and Esri's CASE tools?

Yes. Enterprise Architect supports import of Visio models. There is an additional script that you need to run after importing your model, which ensures that the ArcGIS UML profile is compatible with Enterprise Architect. For complete instructions, see our web page on importing ArcGIS Visio models.

Why is Point used as a stereotype for building, when buildings are spatio-temporally extended and not geometric points?

The Building class was left as an unstereotyped abstract class. The House class, however, was stereotyped as Point, because we wanted a simple example that included a Feature Class. So for the purpose of the example, it suited us to treat houses as nothing more than a dot on a map.

Has anyone mapped the IEC 61970, Common Information Model to ArcGIS for the purpose of model exchange?

Not that we are aware of. However we would welcome any inputs from users who have done this. Please get in touch with us via or submit an article on our community site:

Can you share the custom queries you ran in the demo?

Yes. We've made the queries available for download from this page.

Here's an explanation of the queries and how to use them:

  • Find Related Classes. Lists every RelationshipClass connector for the class that you name in the search field, along with the related Class and the origin and destination cardinality.
  • Find Relationship Classes — Go to Connector. Lists all relationship classes in the model. Double-click a result to jump to the connector properties.
  • Find Relationship Classes — Go to Origin Class. Lists all relationship classes in the model. Double-click a result to jump to the origin class properties. Right-click to find the origin class in the Project Browser or diagrams.
  • Find Domain References. Lists all element fields for which the type matches the Domain name that you specify in the search term.

To use these custom queries, first import them into Enterprise Architect from the XML file:

  1. Save the XML file somewhere.
  2. Open any Enterprise Architect model.
  3. Invoke Enterprise Architect's model search tool via the main menu: Edit > Find In Project.
  4. Click the Builder button to show the toolbar icons. The icon with the 'down arrow' is the icon for importing searches.
  5. Click the import search icon.
  6. Choose the file that you saved in step 1.

Now you can run the queries from any Enterprise Architect model. For example, to Find Domain References:

  1. Open your model in Enterprise Architect and invoke the model search tool via the main menu: Edit > Find In Project.
  2. In the Search field, type the name of the Domain element to which you want to find references.
  3. In the Search drop-down list, choose Find Domain References.
  4. Click Run.

The list of results has three columns:

  1. DomainElement: The name of the Domain element, which will always match your search term.
  2. ReferenceElement: The name of the element — a Feature Class or Table — that refers to your DomainElement.
  3. ReferenceField: The name of the field within the referring element.

As shown, you can right-click any of the results to navigate to the referring element in diagrams or the Project Browser, or view its properties. You can also drag and drop any of the search results from the list onto an open diagram to add the referring element to that diagram.

Find Domain References

Custom queries allow you to search for ArcGIS-specific model information.

Can we have the data dictionary report template you used?

Yes. The main template and its sub-templates (Template Fragments) are included in the example model that you can download from this page. Please note that these are prototype templates for use with Enterprise Architect version 11. We are developing more complete data dictionary templates for ArcGIS, which will be available in a future release of Enterprise Architect. If needed, you can create similar templates for earlier versions, using Enterprise Architect's template editor.

Support for ArcGIS Functionality

Which versions of ArcGIS do you support?

Our support for modeling ArcGIS geodatabases was first tested with ArcGIS 10.0. Earlier versions of ArcGIS that support the XML Workspace import and export capability may also be compatible with Enterprise Architect.

Which Enterprise Architect edition do I need to model ArcGIS geodatabases?

Professional edition, or above. See our web page that compares Enterprise Architect editions.

Do we need Enterprise Architect 11 for the ArcGIS modeling capability?

No. As mentioned above, the latest release of Enterprise Architect 10 (Build 1010) is sufficient. Some relevant enhancements will be included, however, in the Enterprise Architect 11 release.

How about modeling of more complex geodatabase types, such as topology?

Enterprise Architect supports topology, geometric networks and various other spatial types supported by ArcGIS. For more information and an example, search the Enterprise Architect User Guide for: topology.

What support is there for geometric network configurations, that is, connectivity and cardinality?

The features that we support for Geometric Network are similar to what earlier CASE tools supported:
  • Create geometric networks
  • Define which Feature Classes are involved in the geometric network.
  • Create connectivity rules among the Feature Classes in the geometric network.

Are geometric networks fully supported?

No. Currently users cannot set a Weight on each Feature Class.

Are there plans to support more complex ArcGIS classes such as Parcel Fabric and Annotation?

We plan to support Annotations and Dimensions in future. We have noted this request for Parcel Fabric.

Does Enterprise Architect support all ESRI Spatial References?

Enterprise Architect supports the Geographic, Projected and Vertical Coordinate Systems used by ArcGIS.

Are rules between Subtypes available, for example restrictions on how certain Subtypes of one Feature Class can participate in a relationship with another related Feature Class?

Yes. Enterprise Architect supports definition of Relationship Rules, Connectivity Rules and Topology Rules.

Model and Schema Deltas

How do you maintain the Enterprise Architect model against the ArcGIS schema, as either is changed?

Enterprise Architect supports model differencing, so you can compare a current Workspace model to an earlier snapshot and a list of differences is displayed. You can see added or changed items such as Classes, Attributes (fields) and Tagged Values. For more information, see the Enterprise Architect User Guide topic on Model Baselines.

We do not, however, currently provide a facility to automatically write these changes out to an existing geodatabase. We hope to release that capability in future.

What about incremental updates to schemas?

As mentioned above, this will be available with a future release.

APDM Model

Who is the contact you mentioned for APDM (ArcGIS Pipeline Data Model v6)?

The draft APDM model we showed was provided courtesy of Pete Veenstra, on behalf of APDM. Earlier versions of this model are available in Visio format only. APDM 6 will be the first release of the modularized model, in Enterprise Architect.

Where can I download the Pipeline Model?

The ArcGIS Pipeline Data Model (APDM) has not yet been released in Enterprise Architect format. It should become available later this year on the APDM website:

Support for Spatial Databases, other than ArcGIS

This seems very specific to ArcGIS. How does it relate to Sparx Systems' MDA approach - are there transformations from standard UML models to geographical models?

ArcGIS was indeed the target geodatabase platform for this webinar. We are aware of the need to transform more generic UML models to spatial models and the reverse. We are working towards implementing several kinds of model transformation, using Enterprise Architect's MDA Transformation engine.

Could I use this approach with other geographical databases like the PostGIS extensions for PostgreSQL?

Currently there is no specific support in Enterprise Architect for other types of spatial databases. We have noted numerous requests for PostGIS and the spatial types of other relational databases.

Can Enterprise Architect be used with other GIS software or is it only ArcGIS?

ArcGIS is currently the only GIS-specific platform that we support; however Enterprise Architect is used in numerous other contexts for spatial information modeling. As one example, Enterprise Architect provides a profile for the Geography Markup Language (GML), which is used in projects to define interoperable spatial data exchange formats.

I would also like to know about using SQL Server geospatial types

Basic support for spatial data types was added for relational databases with Enterprise Architect 11, including for SQL server. Notice the geometry and geography entries in the type drop-down list for columns in a SQL Server table.

Is there a link possible between the Spatial Index and the Spatial Data Type in SQL Server?

Enterprise Architect does not automatically establish such a link for you, at this stage.

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