Powerful Tools for Visual Modeling

in Enterprise Architect

Webinar April 2013

Mr Ben Constable, Senior Analyst at Sparx Systems, demonstrates powerful tools for rapid visual modeling in Enterprise Architect. Learn about important features for customizing diagram elements, and recent enhancements that help you create and explore diagrams faster and more effectively.

Webinar Resources

For your convenience, we have also provided a copy of the Enterprise Architect model that was used in the webinar.

Download: visual-modeling.eap

Questions from the Audience

Questions & Answers

Q: Does the "Simple" diagram [copy of the original domain diagram] update when changing the original classes?

A: Yes. For example, if you change the name of one of the original classes either via the diagram or Project Browser, you will see the class names update on both diagrams. This is because the underlying model information was not duplicated - only the diagram/layout information.

Q: What were the different types of copy, deep, shallow etc?

A: When pasting a copy of the original domain diagram in the Project Browser, the "Shallow" copy option was used. As noted above, this means the model elements were not duplicated. Our aim was to create a simpler view of the original information for a different audience - so a Shallow copy is ideal in this scenario.

The other options, "Deep" and "Smart" copy, actually duplicate the model elements in the Project Browser as well. This could be handy if you want to create a new model, or duplicate model elements, based on an existing, similar portion of the model. The "Deep" and "Smart" copy options work slightly differently, as described in this help topic.

Q: How do you link an element to a diagram in any other package, not necessarily the nested diagram under a composite element?

A: Right-Click the element and choose from the context menu:
New Diagram > Select Composite Diagram.

Note: This feature was introduced with the Enterprise Architect 10 release.

Q: Is there any way to apply the same change to multiple connectors (e.g. add stereotype, or change line style)?

A: We are considering implementing support for this in a future release of Enterprise Architect and we are interested in comments on the most commonly required operations for multi-selected connectors and what the underlying editing need is (eg. To make all Generalization connectors on the diagram blue, with double-line width per standard XYZ). So the actual use case scenario is of primary importance, rather than the mechanism (multi-select, right-click vs style paintbrush etc.). Please send us your thoughts via: webinar@sparxsystems.com

Q: My question is in the context of a diagram and an element. Can the default action for a Component be changed when someone double-clicks the component?

A: Currently, double-clicking a Component element on a diagram will invoke its properties, if it does not have a composite diagram. If it has a Composite diagram, that diagram will be opened on double-click instead. These are the only two behaviors supported out-of-the-box currently. You could use an add-in to override these default actions however. Your add-in would catch and handle the event:

Q: I would like to know more about how Enterprise Architect generates code from various behavior diagrams, especially complex control flow. Perhaps this should be a topic for the next webinar?

A: This is an excellent suggestion. We will consider the topic for a future session.

Q: Please how do you hide the compartments? (Good for non-technical viewers.)

A: Right-Click the diagram. From the context menu, choose: Properties. Under the Elements tab, you can check or uncheck the compartments that you want show or hide.

Q: Can Orthogonal line style be made the default for the entire model?

A: No. Currently the Orthogonal line styles cannot be made default for the model. There are plans to support doing so in a future release however.

Q: How did you hide all the other windows and toolbars in Enterprise Architect when you presented the mind map diagrams?

A: I used full screen mode. Access it from the menu:
Window > Full Screen

Q: What dialog were you using to switch between diagrams?

A: I used a keyboard short cut to do that, Ctrl+Tab. Enterprise Architect brings up a screen of currently open diagrams. You can cycle through them by holding the Ctrl key down and using the tab or arrow keys, or select one with Left-Click. Alternatively, use Ctrl+Shift+Tab to cycle through open diagrams in reverse.

Q: You said that you can adjust the diagram grid size – how?

A: Tools Menu > Options > Diagram > Behaviour > Grid

Q: Will this presentation be on Youtube?

A: Yes. You can view the video demonstration from this page or from the following YouTube link: www.youtube.com/sparxsystems

Q: How can I show the search bar on top of the diagram? It doesn't appear for me.

A: The Filter Bar was introduced in Enterprise Architect 10. If you are already using this version, ensure that you have the diagram caption bar and associated toolbar displayed:
View Menu > Visual Style > (Uncheck) Hide Diagram Caption Bar.
Ensure the diagram toolbar is visible by clicking this icon if necessary:

Q: What about automatic alignment, positioning, placement optimization of items on diagrams?

A: These are excellent topics that we have planned for a future webinar.

Q: How do you create As-is and To-be versions of a domain model easily?

A: Another excellent topic for a future webinar.

Q: How do you hide all connectors of a certain type from a diagram?

A: There's a few options.
  1. You could use the “Visible Relations” dialog: View Menu > Advanced > Visible Relations. This means you are choosing which specific relationships to hide, but they are conveniently sorted by type.

  2. Alternatively, you could apply a Diagram Filter: Diagram Menu > Diagram Filters.
    You would then create a filter based on Connector type (matching one type, or one of multiple types). This filter can be turned on or off, and works for any open diagram when the filter is on.

  3. Otherwise, you could use a Model Script or add-in to achieve something more specific. This demonstration might help if you opt for a Model Script.

Q: How do you visualize business flows via animation?

A: Enterprise Architect supports model simulation. Model simulation is beyond the scope of this webinar, but is being considered for a future session. Below are some online resources to help get you started with model simulation in Enterprise Architect:

Q: Can you password the diagram lock?

A: You can effectively do this if you use Enterprise Architect's Role-based (User) Security.

Q: So far you have demonstrated only fairly simple diagrams. I do data modelling and for something like Microsoft Dynamics CRM, I need to show the relationships between 100+ tables. Once I have imported the tables the resultant diagram is so complex that it is unusable. Is there a better way to do complex diagrams?

A:We are planning a webinar that will focus on preparing diagrams for publication - that will include non-trivial diagrams and will suit users like yourself who deal with large reverse engineered or imported diagrams. In the meantime, you may be able to leverage Enterprise Architect's Diagram Layout tool (Diagram Menu > Diagram Layout). It can get you part of the way. In combination with some of Enterprise Architect's diagram display options and formatting tools much, but not all, manual work can be avoided.

Q: Can I export the List View contents to Excel?

A: Yes.
  1. Select an element in the list.
  2. Then Ctrl+A to select all.
  3. Copy the selected elements (Ctrl+C).
  4. Open Excel and paste. (Then use the paste option "Text Import Wizard" to import as a comma separated list.)

Q: How do you create an association class relation without creating a new class but attaching an existing one?

  1. Place the existing class on the diagram in which the Association connector appears (or create such a relationship if you need to).
  2. Right-Click the "to-be" Association Class
  3. Select from the context menu: Advanced > Association Class...
  4. Select the appropriate relationship when prompted, then OK.

Q: Can you set a model default [diagram] for a role?

A: A default diagram can be set per user or per model via Diagram Menu > Advanced. Currently however this cannot be done for a group of users (or role).

Q: Can you show discussion comments on the diagram?

A: Currently discussion comments from the Team Review (View Menu > Team Review) cannot be displayed on diagrams. Otherwise, one of the Text or Note elements available from the Common toolbox page can be a useful to annotate the diagram.

Q: Does Sparx produce any purchasable keyboard shortcut templates or reference cards?

A: No. We are aware, however, of such a keyboard shortcut template on the Enterprise Architect Community Site. It may be suitable for you.

Q: Regarding Working Sets, can you choose one as the default diagram still, so if 5 diagrams open, 1 is always on top?

A: Yes. Simply reorder the diagrams in your working set (using up/down buttons) such that the diagram you want displayed "on top" is the last in the list.

Q: Do you have reference links for producing RTF documents and HTML output formats? Typical challenge of sharing information with stakeholders in an agile manner.

A: Yes. You may be interested in the recorded presentation from our Enhanced Reporting webinar, December 2012.

You may also wish to see our Requirements Reporting video demonstration, which includes HTML output from Enterprise Architect. (The reporting concepts covered in the video can be applied beyond requirements)

Q: Could you show some of the reporting capabilities in Enterprise Architect. For example how to get an overview of usage or relations between application components?

A: Yes. These have been addressed to some extent in previous presentations on traceability. You may like to see the "Requirements Traceability" video here for example:

Also, our next webinar will focus on tools for traceability, scheduled for May, 2013.

Q: How can I give a reference number of an Enterprise Architect diagram to other documents such that Enterprise Architect will open that diagram (preferably a user friendly name of diagram not GUID)?

A: A few possibilities may relate to this need:
  1. Create a shortcut EAP file which opens one or more specific diagrams within the model. See the User Guide topic on Capturing the Current Work Environment.

  2. Generate HTML documentation from the model and hyperlink directly to a diagram using its GUID.

  3. or

  4. You could try using the third-party open source EA Protocol Handler to hyperlink directly into a model. This was posted on the Enterprise Architect Community Site.