The Bellekens EA Toolpack combines EA-Matic, EA Navigator and ECDM Message Composer

The three free and open source add-ins for Enterprise Architect : EA Navigator, EA-Matic and ECDM Message Composer have been combined in a convenient package called Bellekens EA Toolpack.

Bellekens EA Toolpack

Downloading any of the add-ins from the site now gets you an installer for the Bellekens EA Toolpack. With this installer you can install all three add-ins, or only the ones you require.

Bellekens EA Toolpack installer

The main reason for this change is the shared EA Addin Framework. Because all three add-ins use the same framework, there was a risk at version conflicts when two add-ins were installed on the same machine because each add-in installed its own version of the framework. With the new installer the framework gets installed only once thus avoiding any possible version conflicts which are known as the DLL Hell.

An added benefit of the Bellekens EA Toolpack is the fact that is now installs the applications for all users on the machine, making it easier to distribute in a corporate organisation.

Because the Bellekens EA Toolpack is a different application from Windows point of view you’ll have to uninstall any versions of EA Navigator, EA-Matic or ECDM Message Composer you might have installed previously. Uninstalling is the easiest from the add/remove programs feature in the control panel.

See Also

Download

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Navigate from and to Composite Diagrams with EA Navigator

With EA Navigator version 2.4.12.0 you can now navigate from and to composite diagrams of an element.

Recently I’ve been working a lot with BPMN models. BPMN models make extensive use of the composite diagram mechanism in EA to drill-down on the processes and sub-processes.

In a classical UML model we usually place the composite diagram under the element, in which case finding the composite diagram, or finding the element(s) that have a diagram as composite diagram, is trivial. They are at the same location in the project browser.BPMN_Library_Model

In most BPMN models however there’s separation between model and library where the library contains the elements, and the model the diagrams. In such a setup it suddenly becomes much harder to find the composite diagram (find in all diagram, then double click the element) and almost impossible to find the element(s) that have a specific diagram as composite diagram.

 

In other words drilling down is relatively easy, but drilling up becomes nearly impossible.

Navigate_Composite_diagramThis problem is now solved by the EA Navigator.  From the Business Process I can now easily navigate to the composite diagram, but more importantly, I can navigate back up to any elements that have this diagram set as their composite diagram.

 

More Information

More information about the EA Navigator add-in for Enterprise Architect can be found here:

EA Navigator 2.4 released

The main new feature of the version 2.4 of the EA Navigator is the Quicksearch. The Quicksearch feature is undoubtedly the fastest way to find anything in a (large) EA model. It is the type of feature which makes you wonder how you could live without it all that time before.

Developing the Quicksearch function was far from easy. I wanted something that resembles what Google does when you start typing, and I started things with a standard Windows Forms ComboBox. But after a while tinkering I finally had to give up and I started my own user control from scratch, combining a TextBox and a ListBox.

Furthermore the EA Navigator now no longer a strictly read-only add-in. With the feature to add an element to a diagram it now is able to make changes to a model for the first time.

Ad last but not least a lot of painfully boring work went into adding all the icons. The EA Navigator now uses more then 90 different icons in its tree.

What’s new in EA Navigator 2.4

Here are the changes for version 2.4.

Quicksearch

The Quicksearch feature is the new textbox on the top right of the EA Navigator window.

Quicksearch

Start typing in the Quicksearch box and you will get a list of all things in the model who’s name start with whatever you have typed.

Quicksearch_dropped

Hovering an item in the dropdown list will show you it’s fully qualified name in the tooltip.

Selecting an item will select it in the EA Navigator tree.

The Quicksearch also comes with a whole bunch of new options

Quicksearch_options

You can choose which types of items to search for, and with the Actions you can choose what to do when an item from the Quicksearch is selected.

Link to Element Feature navigation.

EA has the possibility to define links between features of an element such as Attributes or Operations using the Connect to Element Feature feature, which is very useful in a lot of situations.

Visually EA shows which feature is linked using brackets next to the connected Attribute or Operation.

LinkToElementFeature

The is all nice and dandy, but the downside of the story is that you can only see which features are linked by looking at the diagram.

Now with the EA Navigator you can simply navigate from one feature to the other

NavigateLinkToElementFeature

Add to Diagram

The add to diagram button will add the selected element in the EA Navigator tree to the currently opened diagram.

AddToDiagram

The element will be added to the top left corner of the diagram.

Navigate to GUID

A new button has been added that allows you to navigate to a GUID of an item in EA.

NavigateToGUID

Each item, elements, attributes, operations, diagrams, etc… has a unique id in the form of a GUID (example: {C06EF618-D57C-4f63-BF64-F5A5265694AE}).

Pressing the Navigate to GUID button will allow you to go to that element using it’s GUID. If there’s already a GUID in your windows clipboard then the EA Navigator will use that one. If not the EA navigator will show a dialog where you can past (or type) the GUID.

For elements shown in the project browser you can easily copy the GUID to your clipboard using the context menu Copy Reference|Copy Node GUID to Clipboard

CopyGUIDClipBoard

New Icons

The EA Navigator now shows correct icons for all possible element types in EA allowing you to easily see the difference between Use cases, Classes, Activities, etc..

The icons had become even more more important because of the Quicksearch function. When searching for an element it is especially useful to immediately which type it is.

Icons

Over 70 new icons has been added bringing the total number of icons used by the EA Navigator to 92.

Downloads

More Information

More information about the EA Navigator add-in for Enterprise Architect can be found here:

EA User Group European Seminar

I’ll be presenting two sessions soon at the EA User Group Seminar.

Below the full agenda of the event. For more details and booking visit http://eausergroup.com/

Enterprise Architect

Agenda – Wednesday 15th May 2013


The event tracks are;

  • Track 1 – Setting up projects for success with EA
  • Track 2 – Project Delivery with EA
  • Track 3 – Implementation & lessons learnt

The agenda for the day will be as follows;

Dunstan Thomas

09:00 – 09:45

  • Exhibition, Coffee & Welcome

09:45 – 10:30

  • Keynote – Modelling Software Intensive Systems with Doug Rosenberg

10:30 – 10:45

  • RefreshmentsLieberLieber

10:45 – 11:30

  • Track 1 – Writing Use Cases in EA with Ian Mitchell.
  • Track 2 – BPMN 2.0 with Phil Chudley.
  • Track 3 – User Story: EA usage at ACV with Geert Bellekens.

11:45 – 12:30

  • Track 1 – MDG Profiles & Toolboxes with Phil Chudley.EADocX
  • Track 2 – SysML with Roman Bretz.
  • Track 3 – User Story: EA usage at Evry with Knut Paulsen.

12:30 – 13:30

  • Lunch & Exhibition

13:30 – 14:15

  • Track 1 – Fifty Enterprise Architect tricks with Peter Doomen.
  • Track 2 – Analyser Workbench with Daniel Siegl.
  • Track 3 – Open Session 1: Testing – Chair Knut Paulsen.

14:30 – 15:15

  • Track 1 – Modelling with Enterprise Architect – What’s in it for the PM? With Jackie Mitchell.
  • Track 2 – EA Navigator with Geert Bellekens .
  • Track 3 – Open Session 2: Collaborative use of EA – Chair Simon Beck

15:15 – 16:30

  • Refreshments, Exhibition and Q&A with speakers & organisers.

 

EA Navigator 2.3 released

The focus of version 2.3 of the EA Navigator is usability.

As a user myself I’m in a good position to evaluate the user-experience of the tool, and I felt the EA Navigator was coming short on that aspect. So I decided to do something about that.

One of the most important improvements, and also the most difficult one, is the switch to background processing.

With all the new features in the latest version I (and other users too) noticed that the EA Navigator was seriously slowing down EA itself. The problem was the fact that the EA Navigator needed some time to build the whole tree for the selected element, and EA was waiting for the add-in to finish before continuing.

On a small local .eap file that effect wasn’t really noticeable, but on large DBMS repositories it became a serious problem, so much even that some users even preferred to uninstall the EA Navigator because of it.

To solve this issue I started experimenting with multithreaded processing. The idea that, after a new element was selected, that the EA Navigator would start loading the element in a background thread. That allows us to return the control to EA almost immediately. The result is that the user doesn’t need to wait for the EA Navigator to finish before continuing to use EA.

What’s new in EA Navigator 2.3

Here are the changes for version 2.3.

Performance improved

The overall performance has been improved by doing the time consuming work of the EA Navigator in a background thread.
When several elements are being selected before the EA Navigator has finished loading them they will get queued. So now you might notice now and then that the EA Navigator is catching up after you finished clicking.

New Toolbar

The new toolbar allows fast access to functions such as Select in Project BrowserOpen Properties, or To FQN.
There’s also a button for the new Settings dialog, and the About dialog

New Settings

You can now configure certain options in the EA Navigator. The options are stored on a per user basis in a config file in the user profile.

The available options are:

  • Doubleclick action:
    Decide what the EA navigator should do when you double-click on a node.
  • Show Toolbar:
    Show or hide the toolbar.
  • Show Context Menus:
    Show or Hide the Navigate context menu when right clicking on an element.
  • Track Selected Element:
    Controls whether or not the EA Navigator load the selected element in the navigator window.

Open in Navigator

If you have disabled tracking of the selected element in the settings then you have a new context menu option load the element in the navigator window.

Select relevant element when opening diagram

When opening a diagram via the Navigator window the relevant element will be selected. So if you open a sequence diagram from under the Operation/Diagrams section the message calling that operation will be selected

Show stereotypes in names of elements

Elements now show their stereotypes in the navigator window.
Up to 20 characters of stereotype information will be show. Multiple stereotypes are separated by a comma, and if there’s more than can be displayed there will be two dots at the end to indicate that.

Downloads

More Information

More information about the EA Navigator add-in for Enterprise Architect can be found here:

EA Navigator 2.2 released

Since the release of version 2.1 the EA Navigator has been quite stable. Not much need for major improvements or bugfixes.

So version 2.2 has been about little changes and updates.

The most remarkable new feature is the new context menu with the ability to open the properties dialog of an element. Not remarkable because of the feature itself, but because of the loops and holes I had to jump through to get that part working. Opening the properties dialog is not really a supported API function of EA, so I had to resort to using an undocumented CustomCommand function to hack my way into it. Unfortunately I never got it working for messages.

What’s new in EA Navigator 2.2

Open Properties via new context menu

Each element in the navigator now has a context menu when you right-click on it.

Open Properties  opens the properties dialog of the element.

Select in Project Browser  selects the element in the project browser, just like a double-click would.

Fully Qualified name in the tooltip

Hovering above an element will show the fully qualified name of that element in the tooltip.

This helps to quickly see where that element is coming from (and if you need that one, or another one).

Communication Diagrams

Next to sequence diagrams you can also have messages on Communication Diagram (the old Collaboration Diagrams). Version 2.2 now also supports Communication Diagrams the same way it supports Sequence Diagrams.

This feature was requested by Chris on Github.

Datatypes and Enumerations

Datatypes and Enumerations are now also supported the same way as classes.

Downloads

More Information

More information about the EA Navigator add-in for Enterprise Architect can be found here:

EA Navigator is now an official Sparx Systems 3rd party add-in

I’m proud to announce that the EA Navigator has made the “official” Sparx Systems 3rd party add-in list.

Sparx Systems doesn’t just publish any add-in for Enterprise Architect. Each add-in on the list has been demonstrated to the the people of Sparx, and only if they approve it it will be added to the list.

So a couple of week ago I had an appointment to do a web conference with Sparx to do a little demo of my add-in.

Now they have approved it and the part about the EA Navigator has been published, and it even has its own url for direct navigation: http://www.sparxsystems.com/products/3rdparty.html#EAnavigator.

This is how it looks like:

EA Navigator 2.1 released

With the current release 2.1 the EA Navigator has now matured into a real product that will make the life of any Enterprise Architect user a lot easier.
I can know, as it’s primary user I use it constantly during my daily modelling tasks, and I can assure you that it has already saved me heaps of time.

And because any real product should have a logo, so I proudly present to you: The EA navigator logo.

After the complete re-factoring  of version 2.0 version 2.1 has been more about polishing and refining. I’v been using my own user feedback to enhance the existing features, and add the features I was missing.

One of the things I’ve been focusing on  is the bi-directionality of all navigate features. So if I can navigate from an operation to the sequence diagrams that use it, then I also want to be able to navigate from that sequence diagram back to the operations it shows.

What’s new in EA Navigator 2.1

New and improved icons

Most of the icons used in the navigator window have gotten an update. The folder icons now already show what kind of elements can be found here.

Tagged values

In Enterprise Architect you can define “RefGUID” style tagged values is you want to link an element to another element (see EA Manual for more information).
This is a flexible way to add your own customized relations to the model.

All tagged values of a class are being examined. If their value is a reference to another element they will show up in the navigator:

Referencing Tagged Values

The referencing tagged values allow for navigation in the other direction. It will show all RefGUID style tagged values that reference the selected element.
This feature is available for all types of elements.

Owner

The owner feature simply allows to navigate further to the owner of the element. This feature is available for all types of elements.

The owner feature is a bit special as it doesn’t have a folder that you have to open, but it shows directly under the selected element.

Sequence diagram operations

Starting from a sequence diagram you can now quickly navigate to all operations called on the diagram. This sequence diagram

shows up like this in the EA Navigator window

Other changes

  • Attribute Type
    The attribute type’s behavior has been changed to show without a containing folder, just like the owner feature.
  • Relationship select
    Relationships can now also be selected. Selecting a Relationship will select it’s source, except for sequence diagram messages, they open their sequence diagram when double-clicked.
  • Number of items in window
    The number of items retained in the navigator window has been increased to 50.
  • Implementation to operation
    From a Behavior (Interaction, Statemachine or Activity) or from a diagram contained by such an element can be navigated to the operation it is implementing.
  • Add/Remove programs Icon 
    The EA Navigator now has its own icon that shows up in the add/remove programs, to easily identify the add-in among all other installed programs.

Downloads

More Information

More information about the EA Navigator add-in for Enterprise Architect can be found here:

The best feature was not intended

One of my hobbies is working on my own open source project, the EA Navigator, an add-in for Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect.

In the release 2.0 I added a graphical user interface as a docked window in EA to make it more user friendly to navigate.
The selected element is put into a treeview with each menu option as a subnode.

Getting the navigation options this way is indeed a lot easier then having to right click, and select the correct menu option.

It also saves some clicks because it doesn’t show any popup windows that need closing.

So I promptly installed the new Navigator on my office machine and started using it throughout the day.

After half a day using the new docked Navigator window I realized that the best feature of this whole Navigator add-in was one that I didn’t plan for.

Sure, being able to navigate between all those different things is useful, but the sole fact that it keeps a history of elements I was working on is something I’ve used a lot more.

Usually when you are working on a diagram, or an operation, or an attribute, you quickly need to check on how exactly those classes are named, or what exactly the multiplicity of that association was.
The annoying thing about that is that you always lose the thing you were working on, and it takes an effort to go back to that one operation or attribute.

Now with the EA Navigator I can simply scroll down and double-click on the element I was working on before as it keeps the last 20 elements in the tree.

This “history” feature was never intended, but it is definitely the best feature of them all.

EA Navigator 2.0 released

Attention! A more recent version of the EA Navigator is currently available.
See EA Navigator Downloads

I’ve just released the first “major” upgrade to the EA Navigator add in.

In this release no additional features have been added, the only thing that was changed is that the EA Navigator will now use a docked window in EA to navigate between the different elements.

Now instead of having to right-click and choose an option from the Extensions|Navigate context menu, the Navigator window will immediately show the options for the currently selected element.

In order to show this window select the option Extensions|Add-In Windows

This will show the EA Navigator control in a window you can dock anywhere in the application.

Now all you need to do to select an item in the project browser is double-click it.

The EA Navigator window retains the last 20 elements, so you can easily find the element you were working on just before.

Downloads

More Information

More information about the EA Navigator add-in for Enterprise Architect can be found here: