Author Topic: Resources for Sparx EA?  (Read 470 times)

KristyStevens

  • EA Novice
  • *
  • Posts: 1
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Resources for Sparx EA?
« on: July 07, 2020, 02:44:20 pm »
Hi all

I'm new, it’s my first post here :) so our company is transitioning to Sparx EA for our data modeling so I was wondering if anyone has any good recommendations for books / courses for a quick head start.

Thank you

qwerty

  • EA Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 11402
  • Karma: +295/-263
  • I'm no guru at all
    • View Profile
Re: Resources for Sparx EA?
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2020, 05:06:53 pm »
Books about what? It really depends. I'd say the best advise is to have a capable consultant that can pinpoint your needs and possible solution scenarios.

q.

P.S. Sparx' own books are good if you need some weight to hold paper from flying away with the wind.

Richard Freggi

  • EA User
  • **
  • Posts: 306
  • Karma: +11/-5
    • View Profile
Re: Resources for Sparx EA?
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2020, 08:41:23 pm »
OOOOOhhhh...
Sparx for data modeling = you are in for a world of hurt.  Sparx works OK as a lightweight stopgap but is not a data modeling tool like ERwin, Embarcadero, Toad etc (don't let the brochures tell you otherwise!)
Sparx for UML modeling of processes, systems, software at any level (conceptual, logical, physical) = welcome to one of the best tools around for this. 

I guess what I'm saying is... good luck *averts eyes, gazes to the floor*

Paolo F Cantoni

  • EA Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 7418
  • Karma: +176/-120
  • Inconsistently correct systems DON'T EXIST!
    • View Profile
Re: Resources for Sparx EA?
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2020, 10:09:07 pm »
OOOOOhhhh...
Sparx for data modeling = you are in for a world of hurt.  Sparx works OK as a lightweight stopgap but is not a data modeling tool like ERwin, Embarcadero, Toad etc (don't let the brochures tell you otherwise!)
Sparx for UML modeling of processes, systems, software at any level (conceptual, logical, physical) = welcome to one of the best tools around for this. 

I guess what I'm saying is... good luck *averts eyes, gazes to the floor*
Hey Richard,
Here's something you don't see every day...  Me defending Sparx!

I agree that for Database Management and Control, EA is NOT one of the more serious tools,  but for pure data modelling, it's not too bad!  (And it's got seriously better since the introduction of the Database Builder!)

I would also question whether the other tools, ALL of which I've used, are Data Modelling tools (OK, Embarcadero comes close).

As a Data Architect of many decades experience, I much prefer EA for Data Modelling (and linkage to other subsystems).

So, it depends on what Kristy means by Data Modelling and her experience level.

For example, for understanding Data Modelling, I can thoroughly recommend "Data Modelling Essentials" by Graeme Simsion and Graham Witt - both of whom I had the pleasure of working with.  I haven't read Graeme's later book: "Data Modeling Theory and Practice", but I would assume it's up to the same standard.

Paolo
Inconsistently correct systems DON'T EXIST!
... Therefore, aim for consistency; in the expectation of achieving correctness....
-Semantica-
Helsinki Principle Rules!

Richard Freggi

  • EA User
  • **
  • Posts: 306
  • Karma: +11/-5
    • View Profile
Re: Resources for Sparx EA?
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2020, 12:51:32 am »
Hi Paolo,
if someone at Sparx is listening, here are some of the things that would help turn Sparx into a contender as data modeling tool:
- Treat attributes as model elements, not as an inconvenience / afterthought: CSV export/import, attribute views, attributes can be dragged/dropped from one table to another in the diagram (not just in project explorer)
- Treat relationships in a relational model: if PK is changed in parent table, the relationship and the child FK are automatically updated (or at least a warning), if relationship is changed / deleted than the FKs are changed / deleted etc.
- Provide a data dictionary search that actually generates a data dictionary

Just a few off the top of my head...

pvickers

  • EA User
  • **
  • Posts: 36
  • Karma: +4/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Resources for Sparx EA?
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2020, 01:19:52 am »
Hi all

I'm new, it’s my first post here :) so our company is transitioning to Sparx EA for our data modeling so I was wondering if anyone has any good recommendations for books / courses for a quick head start.

Thank you

Welcome to the forum Kristy.  I personally have found this forum very helpful.  In fact, the community of help, experience and support is one of the reasons I recommend using Sparx EA.

There are lots of good books to choose from and great resources online.  If you are looking for specific help with using Sparx EA, I suggest referencing their online library currently located here:
https://www.sparxsystems.com/resources/user-guides/15.1/index.html

If you are looking for general guidance on data modelling, one book I can suggest is "Data Modeling Made Simple" by Steve Hoberman.
The 13 digit ISBN is 978-0977140060

Regarding the issue of using Sparx EA as a data modelling solution... Please don’t get discouraged with using Sparx EA for this.  I have asked myself the same question many times and I think there is merit in using EA.  (…Don’t worry, I don’t work for Sparx and I’m not in marketing!)

Is Sparx EA the "best" choice for data modelling?
In my opinion the answer is “It depends”.  I encourage you to consider:
-   Are you modelling in an isolated environment or will your models need to be integrated into a larger enterprise context?
-   Will you be collaborating with other data modellers, BA’s, EA’s etc.?
-   Do you wish to integrate your data models with business processes, business capabilities and higher-level architecture etc.?
-   How much money can you spend on the solution?
-   Are there industry standard data models you are working with that may need to be imported for you to work with them?  Will your solution do this? (For example, the CIM in the electrical industry works with Sparx EA.)
-   Do you need to perform data mapping work? (I personally do this involving data models, schema definitions beyond the normal data modelling solution using Sparx EA along with the “EA Mapper”…see Geert Belleken’s website.)
(https://bellekens.com/product/bellekens-enterprise-architect-toolpack/)
-   Do you need the add-in/customizability/automation that Sparx EA provides?

Through my career I have used pretty much every data modelling software solution out there.  Some are excellent and have certain features that make them stand out.
For example, some are better at being able to forward and reverse engineer changes made at the conceptual, logical and physical model levels.
However, I have found at more than one client so far, that while they had a powerful (and very expensive) data modelling solution, they did not have the human resources, standards and knowledge on hand to use it properly…So modellers often fell back to creating “one-off drawings” using Visio.

The roles of data modellers, data architects... continue to evolve.  I think it is increasingly rare that companies have dedicated teams of specialized data modellers on hand that are all thoroughly trained and experienced in using the more specialized data modelling solutions.
For example, as a data architect I often spend time crafting a data model, generating it as a schema file (XSD...JSON...) and mapping attributes between business systems.
Then I also need to show which business processes are supported and/or impacted by data model changes.

Sparx EA can do this.

Good luck on your data modelling journey.
Hope this helps.

Perry
« Last Edit: July 08, 2020, 01:27:17 am by pvickers »

Modesto Vega

  • EA User
  • **
  • Posts: 527
  • Karma: +14/-7
    • View Profile
Re: Resources for Sparx EA?
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2020, 08:39:04 pm »
As a data architect with more years of experience than I am willing to admit, Sparx EA is a good tool to model data architectures. In this day and age data modelling is not just about what we used to do with er win back in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Sparx EA, if used wisely, allows users to
  • do conceptual data modelling, logical data modelling, physical data modelling, and message modelling (including reverse engineering physical databases and xml documents)
  • map the relationship between elements in each one of those types of models
  • transform one type of model into another type of model

There are very few tools in the market capable of doing all of the above and integrating with other architectural disciplines.


Of course, I also agree that Sparx EA does not do any of the above perfectly and that, at times, it is clunky and idiosyncratic (but most tools are).


Richard Freggi

  • EA User
  • **
  • Posts: 306
  • Karma: +11/-5
    • View Profile
Re: Resources for Sparx EA?
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2020, 12:05:04 pm »
Here's another example of limitations of EA for data modeling... no support for non-identifying relationships.  Maybe a future release could address this issue?

https://www.sparxsystems.com/forums/smf/index.php?topic=14353.0

Modesto Vega

  • EA User
  • **
  • Posts: 527
  • Karma: +14/-7
    • View Profile
Re: Resources for Sparx EA?
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2020, 01:08:41 am »
Here's another example of limitations of EA for data modeling... no support for non-identifying relationships.  Maybe a future release could address this issue?

https://www.sparxsystems.com/forums/smf/index.php?topic=14353.0
Richard that post is 15 years old. Are you just having a go?

I have used both UML notation and Information Engineering notation to data model with Sparx EA and never have a problem re-presenting identifying and non-identifying relationships.

Using crow-feet notation, is an identfiying relationaship anything other than "minimum one to maximum one (mandatory)" in one end and  "minimum one, maximum many (mandatory)" on the other - i.e., double dash in one end and dash and crow-foot in the other end?


Richard Freggi

  • EA User
  • **
  • Posts: 306
  • Karma: +11/-5
    • View Profile
Re: Resources for Sparx EA?
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2020, 11:53:26 am »
Here's another example of limitations of EA for data modeling... no support for non-identifying relationships.  Maybe a future release could address this issue?

https://www.sparxsystems.com/forums/smf/index.php?topic=14353.0
Richard that post is 15 years old. Are you just having a go?

I have used both UML notation and Information Engineering notation to data model with Sparx EA and never have a problem re-presenting identifying and non-identifying relationships.

Using crow-feet notation, is an identfiying relationaship anything other than "minimum one to maximum one (mandatory)" in one end and  "minimum one, maximum many (mandatory)" on the other - i.e., double dash in one end and dash and crow-foot in the other end?

15 years old, and still true as far as I know (please correct me if I'm wrong)

Modesto Vega

  • EA User
  • **
  • Posts: 527
  • Karma: +14/-7
    • View Profile
Re: Resources for Sparx EA?
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2020, 06:07:50 pm »
[…] and still true as far as I know (please correct me if I'm wrong)
I made an attempt to correct you, didn't you notice? Please see quote below (emphasis added).

Using crow-feet notation, is an identifying relationship anything other than "minimum one to maximum one (mandatory)" in one end and  "minimum one, maximum many (mandatory)" on the other - i.e., double dash in one end and dash and crow-foot in the other end?

Assuming you agree with the above definition - i.e., answer "Yes" to the question I asked. Sparx has no problems handling this at all, and it has been capable of doing this since v13 at the very least.

Quote
A strong or identifying relationship is when the primary key of the related entity contains the primary key of the “parent”.
Slide 8 - A Strong (Identifying) Relationship between COURSE and CLASS


Source: https://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~cs61/Lectures/04%20-%20ER%20Modeling/04%20-%20ER%20Modeling.html


In addition, to satisfy the definition quoted a composite primary key is required, something that Sparx also supports.

Richard Freggi

  • EA User
  • **
  • Posts: 306
  • Karma: +11/-5
    • View Profile
Re: Resources for Sparx EA?
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2020, 09:07:00 pm »
No, an identifying relationship can be optional, meaning 0 cardinality at child table, so that every child record has 1 parent, but some parent have 0 children, same as a non-identifying relationship.

Identification is really about composite PK, and as mentioned EA is very kludgy about its key management.  As I said, an OK short term stopgap measure for data modeling and no complaints, at EA's price point the kludge is acceptable. 

I just would not use it as THE data modeling tool

Modesto Vega

  • EA User
  • **
  • Posts: 527
  • Karma: +14/-7
    • View Profile
Re: Resources for Sparx EA?
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2020, 11:12:28 pm »
Could we please get some facts straight?

No, an identifying relationship can be optional, meaning 0 cardinality at child table, so that every child record has 1 parent, but some parent have 0 children, same as a non-identifying relationship.

There is no difference between your definition and the one I provided.
Quote
… other than "minimum one to maximum one (mandatory)" in one end and  "minimum one, maximum many (mandatory)" on the other - i.e., double dash in one end and dash and crow-foot in the other end

It goes without saying that
  • "minimum one to maximum one (mandatory)" - i.e., "double dash" - refers to the parent,
  • "minimum one, maximum many (mandatory)" - i.e., dash and crow-foot - refers to the childs, and

Are you suggesting that "minimum 0, maximum many (optional)" - i.e., rigng and crow-foot - on the child end is also an identifying relationship?

Sparx EA can handle composite PKs, this is not a problem and has not been a problem for quite a long time.

Sparx EA could do a better job displaying composite keys.

You and I may prefer not to use it as a modelling tool and I may agre/disagree depending on the business needs. But let's based the decision on facts.