This year’s London EA User Group took place at the Skills Matters Code Node venue. It has been enjoyable and useful to discuss and share experiences with users via this unique dedicated Sparx EA event.
The EAUG London 2018 event started with a day of training on Thursday.
Below is my feedback on the attended training sessions.
- Model Harvesting, a systematic way to build and institutionalize Architecture practices by Nizam Mohamed.
- Pro Cloud Next Generation Workshop by Peter Lieber.
Model Harvesting training
I started with the Model Harvesting training delivered by Nizam Mohamed.
It involved harvesting existing information and knowledge from all kind of sources into a new Sparx Enterprise Architect repository. The aim is to move away from Visio diagrams, Word, Powerpoint and so on, whilst gathering its content to start a model repository.
A meta-model must be defined at the beginning to let everyone agree on what needs to be identified and the valid links between them. For consistency and simplicity purposes, it is recommended to define and use a single toolbox with the elements and connectors that need to be used, e.g. selected ArchiMate 3 elements and connectors such as application and business services, business role, etc.
The Quicklinker can also be customized to reduce the risk of creating inconsistent links.
Scripts can be defined and run on a regular basis to clean up or highlight links or elements that don’t match the meta-model (note: the Model Expert add-in covers this use case).
When creating a connector on a diagram, care must be taken on other impacted diagrams where the same elements are used since this new connector will appear. There is a solution with EA13.5 (and above) that allows to hide the selected connector on other diagrams (right click > visibility > hide connector on other diagrams).
Diagram legends can be created in a library (EA package) and used accordingly on diagrams when needed.
Elements and connectors default colours can be maintained with an MDG via stereotypes. When a colour is changed, importing the new MDG version on the EA project automatically updates default colours. Stereotypes can also include custom properties, managed as tagged values on the stereotyped elements.
Having reviewed examples of an Enterprise Architecture repository in EA with a meta-model, we started an exercise involving building the repository by collecting and importing information.
We were given an Excel file with separate tabs for the collected Business Services, Application Functions, Information Objects, Data Entity, etc.
This Excel file matched a pre-defined Excel Importer profile, part of the MDG Integration for Office (sold separately by Sparx Systems, or included with the Ultimate edition).
As illustrated below, data entities are defined through a name and description.
Running the Import Excel Document, the first set of information (Information Object) was imported via the following selection. Note: custom profiles for each tab were provided for this training.
Result: information object stereotyped classes have been created in a new package.
The following step involved importing Data Entities, including aggregation links to the existing Information Objects, as defined in the selected profile and Data Entity Excel tab.
The associated profile is illustrated as follows.
- DataEntity stereotyped classes will be imported for each row.
- The mapping with the element properties and connectors are defined hereafter.
Pro Cloud Next Generation workshop
This session was carried by Peter Lieber with a step by step guide on setting up the Pro Cloud Server and Web EA. It was useful to understand how it works and gather detailed setup information.
When purchasing EA, the Cloud Service (or Standard Cloud Server) is included with the purpose to provide an HTTP/HTTPS access to EA projects and the Reusable Asset Service (RAS). Sparx Systems Pro Cloud Server (PCS) is an enhanced version of this gateway for a license cost.
- Its OSLC interface makes it possible to access and update EA project data from external solutions (the Standard Cloud Server is limited to a read-only access on requirements).
- It includes a web access with WebEA, an improved alternative to the static HTML export with the focus to help modellers to promote their result with a live view. To only promote approved and relevant models, a second repository including any customization is required, unless Row-Level-Security (RLS) functionality is applied to hide selected model packages (note: the RLS only works with SQL Server >2016 or Oracle).
- It can be combined with a keystore floating license server, supporting SSO if the IIS infrastructure is used.
- Scheduled tasks can be configured (currently limited to Time Series Diagram updates, this feature could be useful in the future to run scripts or more).
The Reusable Asset Service (RAS) uses the Cloud Server (Standard or Pro).
- XMI exports are hosted on a central storage for EA clients to use and import published packages.
- The RAS is convenient for consortiums and standards to publish versions of their model.
- An EA Project client has a copy of an imported published model with a read/write access. Care should be taken when amending this model e.g. by creating connectors to the local elements as this information will be overwritten when downloading a new published version from the RAS. To prevent that, there are ways to manually set a read-only access to this model once imported (scripts or add-ins features can achieve that as shown in my presentation on Day 2 of the EAUG).
- EA Baseline comparison feature can be called from the RAS to compare a new version with the local version before importing it.
The Standard / Pro Cloud Server can be installed as a standalone Windows Service, Apache (WAMP) or in a Microsoft IIS web server (the latter solution offers additional features such as the Active Directory authentication via the PCS http access).
- The PCS client is similar to the free Cloud Service with additional options such as the OSLC access and the new Integration feature (EA 14).
- A minimum EA build constraint can be applied so users must upgrade prior to use an EA project.
- Note: since EA 13.5, an option is available to create an image in the EA project cache of diagrams so it can be used by web or other third party applications. This option is relevant in this scenario to make sure that diagram cache images are updated by forcing all users to have an EA 13.5 or later build.
- The PCS requires database hosted EA projects i.e. EAP files are not supported (note: Firebird can be used if no local DBMS is available to use).
- The PCS includes the SBPI which stands for Server Base Plugin Interface. This framework has been used by Sparx Systems to develop Plugins that allow elements within Enterprise Architect to be linked to their related objects in external products such as JIRA, DOORS, etc.
- SBPI is available with an additional license cost of around $70 (it is available in the Ultimate edition).
- Features to use the SBPI are available with EA14 in the Integration menu.
Once the PCS was set up, Peter provided a useful step by step guide to install WebEA. Full details are available from a Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqTW0KB3I7k.