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Thursday, 26 January 2017 08:22

Synchronize ports in SysML IBD diagram with Sparx Enterprise Architect and hoTools addin

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sysml port synchronization ibd sparx enterprise architect

During a SysML with Enterprise Architect training session, participants had to model a SysML Internal Block Diagram (IBD) for the system context.

This exercise started off a block definition diagram (BDD) that had been modelled earlier during the training. Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect (EA) SysML modelling tool makes it straightforward to create a SysML IBD for a given block, e.g. the system context (right click on the block > New Child Diagram > Add Diagram > Internal Block Diagram).

Once the internal block diagram is created and displayed, a useful EA feature involves synchronizing structural elements to add all parts according to the BDD definition. This can be achieved via a right click on the diagram > Synchronize Structural Elements. This feature is however limited as it doesn't provide the option to add the parts' ports, when related blocks have ports.

This article provides a hint to easily add all SysML parts' ports on an IBD diagram by using one of the hoTools add-in features. This free add-in is shared by a member of Sparx EA community, Helmut Ortmann (ref: hoTools gitHub).

hoTools add-in installation

hoTools installation file must be downloaded from the following link:

Close EA and run the installation file.

Use hoTools add-in to add ports on the IBD

Open the EA project.

Display the add-ins view (menu Extensions > Add-In Windows).

sysml addin hotools

The following SysML BDD diagram is used as an example for this article:

sysml bdd enterprise architect ports

Once the "SystemBlock" IBD is created, run the Synchronize Structural Elements to have all parts (and references):

sysml ibd diagram start

Adding ports can simply be achieved by selecting all diagram objects (Ctrl+A), followed by the SP button (show ports) from hoTools add-in:

add ports to sysml ibd with add-in hotools

The SysML internal block diagram can be completed by adding connectors:

completed sysml ibd with enterprise architect tool sparx


hoTools free EA add-in provides a number of other useful features such as:

  • Change the line style on all the diagram's connectors (orthogonal, tree style, custom, etc.).
  • Permanent access to EA model search from the add-in view.
  • Export EA model search or SQL query results to Excel.
  • Easily add annotations or constraints onto an element within a diagram.

A settings window lets each user select the features to enable.

When the add-in is not suitable for projects where custom installation on each user's machine is avoided, it is possible to achieve the feature described here via a script. Once a script is applied to a project, it is available to all users.