First released in October 2021, Prolaborate 4 is a full redesign of the web application from the previous version 3 for a better user experience, improved performance, to be Cloud ready, more scalable, and more secure.
Since it has completely been rebuilt, Prolaborate 4 delivers most features available in Prolaborate 3, and progressively supporting missing ones as new releases are published.
After 2 and half years since its first release, Prolaborate 4.4 is now available with new features such as the awaited capability to download data from reports to a CSV file, whilst the next release 4.5 should support the Relationship Matrix.
This article is a preview about Prolaborate 4 with examples illustrating the new user experience from this powerful and comprehensive web solution of Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect models.
Once authenticated, the list of available repositories is displayed within a table as illustrated below. This is an improvement from Prolaborate 3 which didn't support such as compact rendering.
Note: a repository is configured for a specific EA database/model configured in the Pro Cloud Server. Several repositories can be defined for the same EA model with their custom configuration matching different user profiles e.g. Business experts vs Architects. There is no limit in the number of repositories that can be created in Prolaborate (contrary to the number of exposed EA models/database in the PCS which is linked with the chosen license).
When more than one repository is available, a repository can be set as the Default so it is opened when authenticated, replacing the list of repositories.
When a repository is opened, its default dashboard is displayed. Below is the example of a dashboard for Sparx EA Example Portable Audio Player SysML model with the following widgets: logo, description, links to diagrams, report on the Audio Player block’s parts.
Similarly to the EA project browser, it is possible to navigate within the model using the Repository Browser. The available content (packages, elements, diagrams) is configured by an admin user, which is useful to remove selected parts of the EA project when needed.
Prolaborate 4 top menu is available on almost all screens:
- Main menu: portal settings and repository configuration (if opened).
- Home: open the active repository default dashboard.
- Repositories: open a repository from the list.
- Dashboards: access to all available dashboards for this repository.
- Diagrams: access to the recently opened diagrams.
- Reviews: access to the model reviews.
- Analyser: open Prolaborate graph visualization feature.
- Back: convenient access to the previously opened diagrams and elements.
Whilst Prolaborate primary feature is to access published EA models from your web browser, it also acts as a convenient and centralized collaborative tool. Prolaborate 4 has redefined the access to the discussion feature via the Discuss button visible on most pages within a repository: dashboard widget, diagram, element.
This action shows the number of existing threads. A simple click opens the discussion feature for the current context e.g. a diagram or element.
In the example below, a discussion thread is created for the diagram with a Medium priority, flagging another user who will be notified:
Once saved, the Discuss action button is updated, showing there is an active thread.
When selecting an element from a diagram or a report, its properties are displayed and a button to open the discussions for that element is available:
Where Prolaborate 3 provided access to the elements' properties (e.g. a class, block, part…) via tabs on the left-hand side, these are now available from a drop-down list which is more convenient to use.
- Properties: published information as configured with Prolaborate Modeling Language feature e.g. element name, alias, notes, tagged values, etc. The value for these fields can be updated and saved in EA project if set accordingly in the configuration.
- Discussions: access to the discussion threads for this element.
- Usage: equivalent to Enterprise Architect "Find in all diagrams", the diagrams where the element is visible are listed here.
- Traceability: list of associated elements.
The Open button is available to show the element properties in a single screen. Links are available to navigate to diagrams, sub-elements, or linked elements.
Opening a repository in Prolaborate starts with the default dashboard. A dashboard is a custom screen made of widgets of different types e.g. a diagram preview, hyperlinks, reports, graphs, custom image, free text, etc.
This is a convenient way to provide entry points to the model content. Furthermore it enables a team to define and make use of powerful graphs and reports based on the model repository data (diagrams, elements, connectors...).
Each widget has a set of associated actions: Refresh the content, Share (create a link), View (open in a screen), Maximize, Discuss:
In the example below, a custom report has been opened, showing all parts of the Portable Audio Player SysML block. A sub-report is available to access the list of a part's ports (see View link).
Note: these reports have been defined with a link enabled on the entry to open the selected element's properties.
Available with v3 and reintroduced in Prolaborate 4.4, the content of a report can be downloaded in the CSV format.
Prolaborate 4.4 also supports listing diagrams and opening them from a report.
Prolaborate supports most types of graphs, a great way to render and share data from the EA project. Below is a dashboard from an ArchiMate demo project.
Graphs can have an associated report, e.g. to list all applications for a selected domain such as the CRM shown below. A nice improvement with version 4 involves associating colours with tagged values via reusable profiles, e.g. CRM = blue, ERP = orange, IT = purple, etc.
In the example below, the properties for one of the listed applications have been opened:
Previously known as “Impact Analysis” in Prolaborate 3, Analyzer is Prolaborate Graph Visualization tool. A simple way to use it is to switch from a diagram to the analyzer view. Example with ArchiMate Application components and interfaces:
The analyzer is opened with the same elements and connectors as in the diagram.
Nodes can be moved around. A number of options are available e.g. show the nodes with the EA icons.
A double-click on a node in the graph opens the traceability view with the action to add associated nodes.
A diagram view is available to show all diagrams for the selected node, making it possible to navigate to either diagram if needed.
The analyzer provides useful settings e.g. to change the connectors and nodes rendering (colour, text size, etc.).
A right click on a node opens a menu to access the element properties, remove it from the graph, or highlight the path with the connected nodes.
Result with the animated highlighted path:
This is yet another useful feature to make use of your EA model repository via available web graph technologies.
Available in v3, the diagram editor allows users to open a diagram from Prolaborate in EA, providing a transparent navigation from the web interface to the modelling tool.
It requires installing a program downloaded with the displayed link (option 1) and enabling this feature in the repository setting. As a result the Open in EA button will be available.
Note: this feature requires Enterprise Architect to be installed and only works if the Pro Cloud Server is available with the same connection details from the user’s PC.
Contact me on guillaume [at] umlchannel.com for any information.