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Messages - colin_e

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General Board / Re: Rectangle notation for Actors- Bug or feature?
« on: December 05, 2017, 01:47:02 am »
I'd say that it's a feature you see the icons. Basically the textual display is what is required. So that's correct this way. You might ask for a feature to show the stickman instead, or you write your own shape script.


If that's the case, then I guess this represents a bug in the documentation (which is currently out of line with what EA actually does), and then possibly an enhancement request.

General Board / Re: Labelled connectors
« on: December 05, 2017, 01:29:17 am »
Well, you can: ctrl-click a connector at two places so you have 3 segments. Ctrl-click the middle one and choose Suppress Line Segment.


Ah that's interesting. I guess you could then apply (visual only) markers at or near the dangling ends for human readers.

I didn't know you could suppress sections of a connector. Thanks for the tip, much appreciated.

General Board / Labelled connectors
« on: December 04, 2017, 10:20:08 pm »
EA Version: 12.0.1215

Another newbie question:

Most diagramming conventions i'm aware of include the idea of labelled connections as a way of avoiding over-long connectors snaking across distant parts of a diagram. This includes UML-

As far as I can tell EA doesn't have this capability. That seems like a surprising omission. I've scanned the forum but haven't found any discussion of this point.

I imagine you could fudge this, visually, using circular elements like ActivityInitial/Final or maybe Interfaces, but that would break EA's ability to treat this connection like a normal point to point relationship.

Is there a way round this? If not, has it been requested as an enhancement?

General Board / Rectangle notation for Actors- Bug or feature?
« on: December 04, 2017, 09:36:16 pm »
EA Version: 12.0.1215

According to the EA online help: "You can display various shaped elements, such as an Interface, Use Case or Actor, using rectangle notation. This displays the element as a rectangle, with an icon of the 'normal' shape in the top right-hand corner."

Now, when I try this, a Use Case or Interface behaves as expected (although rectangle notation is the default for Interfaces), but the rectangle notation for an actor is NOT a rectangle with the actor "stick man" in the corner as stated, but a rectangle with a stereotype in Guillemets (i'd add a screenshot here but it doesn't look as if the board supports image upload.

I think the stereotype notation is less clear, if for whatever reason you decide to use the rectangle notation for actors.

Is this a bug or a feature?

General Board / Re: Defined variables / string interpolation
« on: November 21, 2017, 11:19:06 am »
Thanks for the responses. I'm disappointed but not entirely surprised to find EA can't handle this. I had been trawling through the user help (not always a fruitful exercise) and not found any hints at this capability.

In terms of other (non toolset) ways of dealing with this, the one approach I've seen is for the analysis to use a lot of newly-invented terms (essentially process-specific role descriptions) that none of the stakeholder groups are likely to recognise, and then having a "glossary per discipline" to translate into real-world business language.

This has the disadvantages that-

  • It's a lot of work
  • None of the stakeholders will recognise the language in the model

General Board / Re: Defined variables / string interpolation
« on: November 21, 2017, 05:35:45 am »

>> Make a global glossary of terms and have everyone agree on that.


I can't disagree on the principle, but in a system the size of the UK NHS (~1.3m professionals, before you start counting the patients...) I think that might take rather longer than the one lifetime I have available :-}

True synonyms are one thing, and terms that appear in one stakeholders group's vocabulary but not in another are a second thing. Where things get really tricky is when the same term means subtly (or significantly!) different things to two or more different groups....

General Board / Defined variables / string interpolation
« on: November 18, 2017, 12:07:39 am »
No luck with my previous post (,38828.msg240911.html#msg240911), so let try a different question-

I'm working in an environment (healthcare) with a very large number of stakeholders, and many long-established stakeholder groups, both formal and informal. One result of this is a wide variation in the names (terminology) used. One stakeholder group may refuse to accept a process description couched in the "wrong" terminology, even if the fundamentals are correct.

Trying to work out how to deal with this, it struck me it would be useful if the analysis tool (EA) supported-

  • Defined variables, along the lines of CONST or "#define" statements in many programming languages.
  • Interpolation of defined values into text strings, so for example an activity label of "Receipt by $clinician$" would be rendered on a diagram with $clinician$ variable or macro replaced by whatever the value of that string constant was defined to be in the current diagram.

With hierarchical inheritance, one could set up global defaults for the whole model, but then override them in sub-packages. Ultimately you could achieve "parametric diagrams" where the same process could be shown appropriately labelled for different user groups without re-drawing the whole thing from scratch.


Is something like this possible in EA?

If not, would it be desirable, or am I barking up the wrong tree, and the same goal can be achieved in a different way with existing functionality?

General Board / Representation of links
« on: November 03, 2017, 04:26:46 am »
I'm very new to EA, and still working out how to drive the thing.

It's standard practice in our organisation to set up an initial "Navigation" page at the top of a model, and use this as a kind of hyperlinked Table of Content (TOC) to find your way around the model. However i'm having trouble working out how to present this consistently.

First two problems-
  • If you drag+drop a diagram onto a nav page (a Package diagram) and choose the hyperlink option, you get a small icon and a line of link text. However, if you drop a Document artifact onto the diagram in the same way and choose link, you get a solid block symbol. These two presentation don't sit easily together as a "Table of contents".
    I tried bypassing this by manually creating a hyperlink that points at the linked document, but you only have the option to hyperlink to an element in EA, not "the linked document attached to an element". The result just selects the item in the project browser rather than actually opening the document.
  • Dragging a package onto a diagram creates a diagram frame with a neat list of the package contents, BUT it only shows direct children of the package, and only certain child types (I haven't worked out what the rules are yet for what is listed and what isn't). I would have hoped to be able to choose a "recursive" option to list the hierarchy within the package, and pick which child item types to display, but it looks like achieving that would require delving into some complex (and undocumented?) SQL.
Are these just newbie gaps in understanding, or does EA not make this stuff easy?

General Board / Re: Importing mindmaps with relationships
« on: March 11, 2016, 11:45:57 pm »
Thanks Uffe.

So, it seems it would require a custom pre-processing script to read the hierarchy in the source file, and convert it into a set of parent-child ID relationships. I need to consider whether that's worthwhile for my current one-off exercise.

General Board / Importing mindmaps with relationships
« on: March 11, 2016, 01:24:21 pm »
for business work in general I am a big user of mindmaps.

I have an existing mind map, created in another tool (MindGenius) and i'm trying to work out if I can import that into an EA Mindmap to make it a part of the EA model.

EA doesn't support any common mindmap file formats (e.g. FreeMind) as far as I can see, so CSV looks like my best option?

By exporting an EA Mindmap as CSV I can see the mindmap topics are considered classes in EA, but I can't see how the hierarchical relationship between topics is represented in CSV. Most dedicated mind mapping tools can use either tab-indents or legal-style item numbering (e.g. "") to represent the hierarchy, but I can't see that option in the EA CSV import.

Is there an easy way to do this, or is the diagram that EA calls a mindmap so unlike the data structure in dedicated mind mapping tools that this is a non-starter?

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