Diagram Filters


Diagram Filters (Dynamic Visual filters) enable you to modify the display of diagram components, so that the relevant items are immediately identified for the reader's attention without damaging the structure and integrity of the model. Currently the feature operates on elements, and filters according to element properties such as Author, Status, Date Created or Stereotype.

Diagram Filters are useful in tailoring the display of diagrams:

  • For different users, so that - for example - technical staff and stakeholders each have a view that highlights the information pertinent to them
  • To show what elements have been recently developed or changed
  • To show which part of a model was developed by a particular person
  • To show which parts of a diagram are at a particular phase, status or version.


You create and define as many filters as you require, setting up each filter by defining which element properties to specifically check for and (depending on how you set up the filter parameters) whether to include or exclude elements having particular property values. You can select to:

  • Mute the irrelevant items in grayscale or a faded color
  • Hide the irrelevant items completely, or
  • Highlight (with a hashed border) the elements that are relevant.

If you select to mute or hide elements, the action of the filters is to exclude elements that do not match the parameters rather than include elements that do. If, for example, you selected to filter on element name, looking for elements with the word Class in the name, the filter would apply the following logic:

                  Does Name contain string Class? If No, apply effect. If Yes, take no action.

The elements you want are therefore what is left on the diagram, rather than what was operated on. The filter effect remains in force while you do other work on the diagram, until such time as you disable the filter.

In you select the Highlight effect, however, the logic is reversed:

                  Does Name contain string Class? If No, take no action. If Yes, apply effect.

In this case, the filter effect is not permanent, and clicking off the elements deselects them. This effect is, however, excellent for selecting elements having the same characteristics across a large diagram, to be processed in a single task. Instead of having to locate the elements and select them with [Ctrl]+click individually, you can apply the filter. If you inadvertently lose the selection by clicking off the elements, you can get it back again almost immediately by re-applying the filter.


You can use filters singly, in sequence, or in combination; for example, you could:

  • Set up a filter for immediate use on a diagram, and modify that filter as you review the diagram so that you highlight elements with different values for the same properties - perhaps, by filtering on Phase, to compare 'as-is' and 'to-be' elements
  • Set up a filter and leave it active so that all diagrams you display are automatically filtered the same way
  • Set up a series of filters to use:
  • in one or more sequences to progressively highlight a diminishing set of elements, or
  • alternately to highlight contrasting views of the diagram.


A quick-start guide to using Diagram Filters is provided on the Sparx Systems Community Site.