Update (25/06/2019): Enterprise Architect 15 Release Candidate is available to download from SparxSystems site.
Sparx Systems released this month the beta version of Enterprise Architect 15.
Below is a selection of the main features and enhancements that will be detailed in this article:
- Data Miner
- Custom tables (new spreadsheet artefacts)
- Browser new organization
- Diagrams enhancements
- Custom drawing style diagram property
- Google GCP, Amazon AWS web images
- Bookmark values
- Group elements
- New keyboard shortcuts
- Simplified access to the "Link to element feature"
- Image Assets drag and drop to a diagram
- New keyboard shortcuts
Data Miner is a new feature to create model elements and relationships in Enterprise Architect from a data source such as a database, JSON file, or an XML file.
Data Miner is available via its associated diagram type, giving access to the following toolbox:
- DMConnection class : properties to open a database via ODBC, a local file, or a URL.
- DMSet class [1..*]: query on the data source.
- DMScripts class : scripts to update the EA models using the data available via the DMSets.
- Data Source and Harvester relationships: links DMSet to DMConnection, or DMScripts to DMSet classes.
- Note: it is recommended to use patterns to create all required Data Miner elements.
Below is an example to import data from an Excel file:
- Open the Edit Data Miner Connection on the DMConnection class to define the file location (local or URL).
The Excel file used in this example contains a spreadsheet for each type of information: applications, interfaces, data objects, data flows between applications.
- Use the Open Data Miner Visualizer menu on the DMSet classes to define the query and check the results. In the following example, the query gathers all the information from the APPS tab.
- New classes are available in EA API: EA.DataMiner, EA.DataMinerManager, EA.DataSet, EA.DMAction, EA.DMArray, EA.DMConnection, and EA.DMScript.
- Once the script is defined, it can be used via a right click > Run Data Miner Processor.
- ArchiMate Application Component, Interface and Data Object elements have been generated according to the script definition:
- Stereotypes tagged values have been initialized with mapped values from the Excel spreadsheet:
- Data flows (information flows) have been generated between applications with the Data Object set as the conveyed item.
DataMiner works one-way i.e. it doesn’t export or update information in the data source. It can prove to be very useful when custom data sources need to be imported without having to use a CSV file or other supported formats. Importing such data model can relevant to share a visual view of its concepts, link it with analysis and design models, map it to another project or data model, etc.
Note: I started testing the ODATA metadata import as an alternative to the XSLT process available here. The Data Miner not only generates classes and attributes, but also relationships – more to follow on this subject!
Enterprise Architect traditional add-ins stand for applications that need to be installed on each user's PC (eaUtils is an example). Enterprise Architect 15 supports a new type of add-in known as Model-Based, to set up on a modelling project (no installation required), similarly to scripts (see my EA User Group London 2018 presentation).
The following Model Based Add-in is available from the EA Example project:
When the project is opened, this add-in is automatically recognized as an optional one:
Once enabled, this add-in provides a menu to generate the attributes details in the system output view from a selected class:
Enterprise Architect supports a number of artefacts such as Model Views to generate results from a custom query in a table. The following list matches automated test cases defined for eaUtils add-in with eaTests library:
Custom table is a new type of artefact to manage spreadsheets and make them viewable on a diagram. The following custom table has been defined to show data flows between applications:
Notes: the edition mode is quite easy to use, however having a dedicated menu would help (similarly to the RTF document generator). Also, there is no support to copy and paste an existing content from Excel.
The table structure is available in the XML format via the following tagged value:
The cell layout is available via the dataFormat tab:
Finally, the script tab is available to dynamically update values from the model data.
Running the Execute behavior script gathers all data flows and update the table accordingly:
The Browser (previously known as the Project Browser) is now complete with 4 tabs:
- 1- Project: tree structure view of the model elements and diagrams
- 2- Context: filtered view of the current package content (introduced in EA 14)
- 3- Diagram: new view with the list of elements (alphabetical order) used in the current diagram, as well as the in/out relationships. It can be useful to work with the diagram content.
- A single click on an element or connector in the list selects it in the diagram.
- A double click opens the properties window.
- 4- Element: the element browser view has been improved and merged in the Browser view.
A "find in browser" action is available from the Browser menu:
This feature is useful when called from a diagram as it selects an element or the diagram in the repository browser. This new menu is an alternative to the right click access, or existing keyboard shortcuts (Alt+G or Shift+Alt+G).
Custom Diagram Drawing Style
Custom style is a new diagram property option. It is used to remove notation-specific details (UML, SysML, BPMN, ArchiMate…), making diagrams more easily understood by stakeholders.
Custom applications view:
Standard BPMN view:
Custom BPMN view:
The custom diagram drawing style can replace the need to use Visio or Powerpoint with decoupled information from the repository.
The available layout options are illustrated in the diagram below:
Using Enterprise Architect 15 beta version, I encountered a few issues in manipulating elements on the diagrams. I will test it again with the final release.
Bookmark values are available to set and display a value on top of an element in a diagram. This setting is specific to a diagram i.e. different bookmark values can be set for each diagram that needs it. This feature can be useful for instance to tag the logical order on each step as illustrated here:
To enable and set a value, right click on the element, select Set Bookmark Value, enable the option and provide the value.
The diagram contextual menu provides an option to Show or Hide All Bookmark Values.
Group Elements is a new option to enable or disable on a selection of elements e.g. to move, change colours, or align them.
Link to Element Feature
This feature is known to link or map most of the time a class attribute or operation with another one (e.g. mapping between a data model with standard data model, or a logical data model with a physical one). Until now, once an association was created between classes, the process to link attributes or operations could take time for multiple links. This is now easier to achieve as illustrated here:
Resources: Amazon AWS and Google GCP Image and Icon sets
Comprehensive series of images and icons required to model AWS (Amazon Web Services) and GCP (Google Cloud Platform) architectures are now available from Enterprise Architect 15.
Here are some examples of Amazon and Google icons:
Image assets have been introduced with Enterprise Architect 13 as an alternative to the image library with the ability to manage images as modelling elements.
Image asset elements are not supposed to be used directly in diagrams. Instead they should be set as the alternative image of elements. Enterprise Architect 15 provides a specific option when drag/dropping an image asset from the browser onto a diagram.
- Set as Alternate Image: define the image asset as the alternate image of an existing element e.g. class Class1
- Add as element with image: create a new element (class, component…) with the image asset identified as the alternate image
- Add as link: add the image asset element itself on the diagram
Note: it would be great if the option Add as element with image could support Boundary elements as they are commonly used to display images (cf. eaUtils Find in All Diagrams help for more information).
New keyboard shortcuts
Notes: Ctrl+Space or "n"
Access to the elements notes is very useful to read or update its description, hence the need to enable most of the time the Notes view.
A handy quick access to Notes has been released with the "n" or "Ctrl+Space" keyboard shortcut which opens the notes in a temporary popup window.
The Ctrl+Return shortcut on the selected element or diagram opens and selects the properties view.
Note: the Tagged Values view has now been merged into the Properties view via a new tab.