UML & SysML modelling languages

Expertise and blog articles on UML, SysML, and Enterprise Architect modelling tool

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Wednesday, 05 February 2014 08:09

Enterprise Architect 11 beta

sparx enterprise architect 11 beta

Sparx Systems has announced the beta release of Enterprise Architect 11, which maintains the current pace of a new major release each year.

Enterprise Architect 11 beta is available as a 30 day trial to all, or as a full beta version to all registered users via the dedicated section from Sparx Systems official site.

Sparx has announced the release of several new enhancements and additional supported standards in EA v11 on its dedicated page:

A colleague recently enquired about a simple way to run a batch import of several XMI files into an Enterprise Architect project. The client's project required importing a rather large number of XMI files, created from various Enterprise Architect projects via the standard XMI export (note : each file store an extraction in the XMI format from a selected part of the modelling project). Having to import each XMI file is too cumbersome, and Enterprise Architect's existing "Batch XMI Import" is limited to controlled packages i.e. involving a VC repository like SVN set up with the current project.

This article explains how to create in your Enterprise Architect project a VBScript that can import a batch of XMI files, located on a local or networked drive, within a selected package from the browser.

Important : this script is intended to easily run a one-off import of a large number of XMI files into a single target package of an EA project. 


A new webinar from Sparx Systems is scheduled on the 17th and 18th of December to accomodate time zones. This webinar will introduce the topic of software engineering using Enterprise Architect, including:

  • Configure Enterprise Architect to write, debug and compile software
  • Generate source code from a package in Enterprise Architect
  • Synchronize changes between the model and code

Registrations are available at :

sparx webinar Setting up a Team Modeling Environment

I attended on the 7th of November a webinar from Sparx Systems about setting up a team modelling environment with Enterprise Architect using a centralised DBMS. This webinar was presented by Scott Hebbard, Communications Manager at Sparx Systems. It involved a step by step demonstration to cover the following topics:

  • create a DB schema for the shared Enterprise Architect project with the chosen DBMS product (e.g. MySQL);
  • create and configure the ODBC settings to access the database;
  • initialise the project with Sparx base or an existing project;
  • enable security and define groups, users, and permissions;
  • use Enterprise Architect "Model mail" to enable communication throughout the team;
  • define project tasks, resources, and manage them via a Gantt diagram;
  • manage project literature using the Enterprise Architect Team Review.

This article provides highlights from this presentation and the Q&A session between Sparx and the audience.

When working onto a diagram in Sparx Enterprise Architect, a contextual toolbox is displayed and available to use. A contextual toolbox means that the displayed toolbox matches the type of the opened diagram. For instance if a UML class diagram is created or opened, the Class toolbox is displayed, providing access to classes, packages, interfaces, etc.
Enterprise Architect makes it possible to change this toolbox via the Toolbox's "More tools" menu :

sparx ea more tools

Note : once this class diagram is closed, the toolbox selection is lost, i.e. the contextual toolbox (class) will be displayed next time this diagram is opened.

In some cases, it can be useful to display additional toolboxes for any type of diagram. Enterprise Architect makes it possible via the option More tools > Set Toolbox Visibility, where it lets you enable additional toolboxes:

sparx enterprise architect visible toolbox pagesIn the example below :

  • A use case diagram has been opened, hence the use case toolbox is displayed.
  • The requirements toolbox has been enabled via the Set Toolbox Visibility command (see previous screenshot), so it is displayed below the use case toolbox:

sparxsystems enterprise architect toolbox default


Sparx Enterprise Architect is a great tool to produce and organise your models using UML, SysML, BPMN or other modelling languages or notations.

In some cases, the default rendering of elements on certain types of diagrams lack of attractiveness, prompting the need for a suitable colour scheme and font.

This article deals with two topics :

  • Highlights the strength of Enterprise Architect as a modelling project versus that of a drawing tools;
  • Applying visual styles onto elements to improve the look and feel of your diagrams.


sparx enterprise architect diagram visual styles

As an Enterprise Architect user, you may have had the need to apply several times more or less the same set of elements on a given diagram, leading to numerous uses of copy and paste as new.

The "copy and paste" feature on a selection of elements, including their associations and layout works ok, but there could be a more suitable way to go about this. Given a context where we have our set of elements i.e. a pattern of modelling elements available from one or several diagrams within our model, we need to apply them several times onto a new diagram. Once the new diagram is created, the elements that need to be duplicated aren't available from this blank diagram. Hence the diagram that contains those elements has got to be opened first, followed by a selection on the elements of interest, copied to the clipboard (Ctrl+C). Then the newly created diagram needs to be displayed again so the paste as new command can be executed (Ctrl+Maj+V). We also need to ensure that any specific element or information, e.g. an activity description or a child composite diagram and its sub-elements, mustn't be re-used, hence they need to be deleted.

Enterprise Architect makes it possible to re-use a set of elements, their associations, any notes, and their layout on the diagram by creating UML patterns. Similarly to the use of design patterns (GoF), the aim is to define a set of elements that can be applied for modelling purposes.

This article describes the use of UML Patterns in EA.

When creating classes in EA without the need to define any attribute or operation, the class is rendered without any compartment. This rendering can be an issue for some users, and as such EA lets you change that through the element's display properties in a given diagram.

To do so, right click on the class from your diagram, select "Feature and Compartment Visibility", and enable "structure compartment". You should get the result illustrated as follows:

use of structured compartment in ea

This is a limited solution since it only works on the current diagram, and EA doesn't let you apply this option onto a selection of classes.

The "Properties" view can be used to review or update a number of properties for an element, such as a class, interface, use case, actor... that has been selected from the current diagram or the Project Browser. These properties include the name, alias, stereotype, etc.

This view also gives you access to a number of shortcuts from the toolbar, illustrated in this article.

Sparx Enterprise Architect Properties shortcuts view

Tuesday, 04 June 2013 21:41

EA User Group London 2013 feedback

ea user group

I went to the first EAUG (Enterprise Architect User Group) on the 15th of May, where around 100 people from the EA community of users and experts gathered in London.

I summarised in this article a selection of talks I attended:

  1. "Modeling Software Intensive Systems" by Doug Rosenberg from ICONIX, hinting the concept of SwissML (SysML + UML) to reach the same amount of specifications for both software and hardware blocks of an embedded system. Doug discussed about the incompatibility of agile software development processes in a context where the delivered software is not the final product, but part of a system that encompasses software and hardware blocks, alongside safety and security risks associated with any possible bug.
  2. "SysML with EA" by Roman Bretz from Lieber Lieber GmbH who shared his experiences on clients projects where SysML modelling language and EA were used.
  3. "User Story : EA usage at EVRY" by Knut Paulsen from EVRY who explained how EA was used in his company, involving specific developments of EA Add'Ins such as a document generator and an Excel import/export tool, both tailored to comply with the adopted methodology.
  4. "User Story: How to do less work, have more fun and become (a bit) famous doing it" by Ian Mitchell from Ability Engineering, who shared his experience as a BA on large project at the European scale, leading to a number of advices and point of views to take into account!
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