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eaDocX's eaXL module makes it possible to import and export information between Excel and Sparx Enterprise Architect, e.g. requirements, classes (including attributes or methods), use cases, etc.

This article provides a feedback on a real-life experience where eaXL has been used for a request for proposal (RFP): more than a hundred requirements have been imported into Enterprise Architect in order to carry the analysis and build the response with the aid and support of the model-driven approach. Steps involved to import the customer's requirements are covered in this article.

Note: eaXL module for Excel support requires eaDocX Corporate edition.

Context

I recently worked on an RFP that included more than a hundred requirements organised by categories. Details of each requirement (description, reference, category) were provided in an Excel file that had to be completed and returned with our response and proposals. Being given the task to analyse each requirement and assess the feasibility and complexity, I chose to build the response and capture all the elements within an Enterprise Architect modelling project.

A response to an RFP usually requires to work on a wide array of topics and queries. Model-driven can ease up this task by gathering and structuring all the elements created for this purpose. Collaborative access to the modelling project also enables several peers to share the tasks.

Once a new Enterprise Architect project had been set up, the client's requirements were imported via the following the process:

eadocx eaxl import client requirements in enterprise architect

Summary of the main steps from the above BPMN2 diagram:

  • Step A: prior to run an import from Excel with eaDocX's eaXL, an Excel file needs to be generated. To do so, eaXL export must be run with at least a single blank requirement from Enterprise Architect. This first step involves creating a couple of blank requirements in the model.
  • Step B: run an eaXL export of the blank requirements from Enterprise Architect into a generated Excel file.
  • Step C: populate the Excel file with the requirements provided by the client.
  • Step D: import the client's requirements from Excel to Enterprise Architect using eaXL.

Step A: create blank requirements in the Enterprise Architect model

A1. Once the Enterprise Architect project has been initialised, blank requirements are created in the requirements model (eaXL needs to have at least one requirement to export in order to generate an Excel file).

A2. Tagged values are added to the blank requirements so that additional information provided by the client can be entered in the Excel spreadsheet, e.g. Feasible (true/false), Priority, and Category

requirements model sparx enterprise architect

Step B: export the blank requirements from the Enteprise Architect project to Excel with eaXL

B1. In order to generate an Excel file that's compatible with eaXL, an export is run from the Enterprise Architect requirements model to Excel via a right click on the source package > Extensions > eaDocX > Open in Excel.

  • Result: blank requirements have been exported into a new Excel file.

B2. Additional properties are enabled via the eaXL columns tab: Name, Alias, Description, and the pre defined tagged values (Feasible, Priority, and Category).

export requirements eadocx eaxl

B3. The Excel content is updated by clicking on the button "Export data from EA to current worksheet".

  • Result: the Excel file has been updated with the additional properties.

export requirements eadocx eaxl Excel file output

Step C: populate the Excel eaXL template file with the client's requirements

C1. All the client's requirements must be copied from the original file to the eaXL generated Excel file, under a separate worksheet.

C2. In the current scenario, the available information is organised under the following Excel columns:

  • Excel column B - Ref (reference)
  • Excel column C - Category
  • Excel column D - Description (full requirement's text)
  • Excel column E - Title: some of the requirements contain a very long body description, hence their title has been set using an Excel function (STTX) to truncate the description to the first 200 characters

customer requirements data to import to enterprise architect from Excel

C3. Using references between cells, the first worksheet has been populated with details according to the eaXL columns (worksheet no 1 is used by eaXL import/export).

  • Excel column D - Name : formula = "=Feuil2!E2" (Title column from worksheet 2)
  • Excel column E - Alias : formula = "=Feuil2!B2" (Ref column from worksheet 2)
  • Excel column F - Description : formula = "=Feuil2!D2" (Description column from worksheet 2)
  • Excel column G - TV Category : formula = "=Feuil2!C2" (Category column from worksheet 2)
  • Excel column H - TV Priority : value = "M" (default value = Must)
  • Excel column I - TV Feasible : value = "1" (default value = true)
  • Excel column C - ElementType : value = "Requirement" (provides eaXL with the element type to import)

eadocx sparx customer requirements data to import to enterprise architect from Excel

Step D: import the client's requirements from Excel to the Enterprise Architect project with eaXL

D1. In Enterprise Architect eaDocX/eaXL is used to run a comparison with the model:

eadocx eaxl Sparx comparison Enterprise Architect Excel

D2. eaXL import from Excel to Enterprise Architect is run via the action "Import contents of worksheet into EA".

  • Result: requirements have been imported in the model with the title, description and tagged values for the feasibility, priority, and category.

eadocx eaxl Sparx imported requirements into Enterprise Architect from Excel

Tagged values from an imported requirement are illustrated below:

 eadocx eaxl Sparx imported requirements into Enterprise Architect from Exce tagged values

D3. At this stage, blank requirements created in step A are deleted.

D4. Using a custom VB script in Enterprise Architect, each requirement is moved into a sub package, named after the Category Tagged Value. This is intended to simplify the organisation of requirements within the model.

run enterprise architect script

  • Result: requirements are grouped by category in the project tree.

enterprise architect project browser requirements eaXL

Next steps: building the response and proposal, generate the Excel deliverable

Having all the RFP requirements in the modelling project, the analysis and elaboration of the answer can be carried out:

  • Creating "response" stereotyped requirements and Feature elements. Associate these elements to the client's requirements.
  • Creating UML/BPMN diagrams to suggest an architecture, illustrate the solution or an option to one or several requirements.
  • Assessing and updating the Feasibility tagged value for each requirement.
  • Exporting results to Excel with eaXL.
  • Generate the response and answser to the RFP in the Word forma using eaDocX.

Conclusion

Enterprise Architect made it possible to efficiently carry out the analysis of a long list of requirements by building up the models with the solution's elements, links between requirements of similar purpose, and realisation links between the RFP requirements and solution elements. Once the analysis had been completed, generating the Excel deliverable for the client only required a few minutes.

This Excel file was ready to be sent alongside a Word document generated with eaDocX, including a relationships matrix between requirements and system features to implement.

In case the RFP process has been successful, a model-driven approach provides the advantage of starting the project with an existing Enterprise Architect project.

The Excel import/export feature for Enterprise Architect available with eaDocX (eaXL module) can be used for many other purposes: importing requirements and use cases in the project, synchronise requirements with other tools via the Excel format, import business classes from Excel, etc.

Published in Case Studies

Catch Software are delighted to be welcoming special guests Ian and Jackie Mitchell, founders of UK company Ability Engineering and developers of eaDocX, to the next Enterprise Architect User Group (EAUG).  Ian and Jackie are making the journey from the UK to New Zealand where they will present at the Auckland event on the 19th of November and in Wellington on the 20th of November.  eaDocX is the Microsoft Word and Excel document generator add-in for Enterprise Architect which allows ready-to-publish, high-quality documents to be produced in a couple of clicks.

Catch are a value-added reseller and training partner for Sparx Systems and run Sparx Systems New Zealand. They hold Enterprise Architect User Groups throughout the year across Auckland, Wellington and Canberra, with the aim of bringing Enterprise Architect users together to share ideas, best practice and experience. User Groups are a way to meet and interact with other Enterprise Architect users on all levels and abilities. At this, specially extended, event there will be a demo and Q&A session, as well as plenty of time for networking.

"We are pleased to be hosting Ian and Jackie here in Auckland and it's a real privilege that they are taking the time to present at the EA User Groups," says Stacy Busek, Communications Manager at Catch.  "The buzz around eaDocX has definitely reached our shores, so it'll be interesting to hear about the software from the team that developed it. Ian and Jackie both have a wealth of experience and I think the user group attendees will be in for a great, interactive session."

"It’s great to have the opportunity to meet EA and eaDocX users in New Zealand. We see the NZ market leading the way in using integrated BA and software development tools, so we’re looking forward to sharing ideas with you. (And talking rugby too). " - Jackie Mitchell

For more information on the event, please go to http://catchsoftware.com/news/category/shows-events/

About Ability Engineering

eaDocX is sold by Ability Engineering, a UK based company providing Training, Mentoring and Talent for Business Analysis and Management to the IT, mobile telecoms, finance and aerospace industries.  eaDocX has been developed and used in these environments over many years, so has been proved to cope with changing requirements, multiple releases, complex international environments and demanding stakeholders.

About Catch Software

Catch Software develops test management software for the global market and counts Fortune 500 and Global 2000 organizations among its customers. Their flagship product, Enterprise Tester, is award-winning test management software which offers great features, open architecture, and integration into Enterprise Architect, Rally, Atlassian's JIRA and Microsoft TFS - all backed by responsive support and a dedicated solutions team.

Leading the way in the test management space with over 60,000 users, Enterprise Tester is used by teams across 40 countries including those at Intel, Cox Communications, eBay, Bayer Healthcare, NCS, LG Electronics, PayPal, the US Navy and the US Air Force.

For more information about Catch, please go to catchsoftware.com

Contact Information

Catch Software
Kevin Kuck
Sales Manager
NZ: +64 9 303 2023 or US: +1 419 404 7432
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catchsoftware.com

Published in News