Enterprise Architect version 14.0

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Monday, 06 June 2016 01:59

Excel Requirement bridge

Enterprise Architect provides many features for requirements management. It allows team to create and update requirements, trace their solution, maintain whole requirement life cycle.

We need sometimes work with requirements “outside” the Enterprise Architect. Especially when we discuss them with customers. We can of course generate documents from RTF templates as basis for meeting, which is suitable for most cases. At the level of project management, when it comes to project scope and overall state of requirements, is better to have requirement list in form of an Excel spreadsheet. Project manager can clear report requirement status to the customer and quickly change the list according to the results of the meeting. Next step is to save changed list back to Enterprise Architect.

We tried package CSV Import/Export utility but it was not suitable for us. CSV format is prone to data errors and we needed to split some data cells into more requirement properties.

 

So we decided to write our own bridge for requirement data interchange between Excel spreadsheet and Enterprise architect repository.

Solution

Our Excel requirements template has several columns. Mapping to requirement attributes is as follows:

Column

Requirement attribute

ID

Requirement code – first part of requirement name before “-“

Hierarchy

Package path to requirement in repository

Source

Tagged value “REQ: Source”

Description

Notes

Discovered

Tagged value “REQ: Date discovered”

Type

Type

Responsibility

Author

Priority

Priority

Status

Status

The bridge is implemented as Excel addin. It is written in Visual Basic and stored in Requirements.xlam file. When you add it to Excel, new tab CCA appears in ribbon. It has two commands “to Excel” for importing requirements from Enterprise architect repository to Excel spreadsheet and “to EA” for saving requirements from Excel back to EAP.

 

Importing requirements to Excel

Bridge is written for requirements template MyProjectREQ.xlsm. Copy it into new file and open this file. Press “to Excel”.

File open dialog appears, choose your project EAP file. Program then show “Enter prefix” dialog to filter imported attributes. Enter the prefix (for example “REQ”) or leave the value empty for all requirements. Program uses standard Enterprise Architect search “Requirements”.

Sheet is filled with requirements. Notice the cell D3 – it contains EAP filename. When you run command “to Excel” again, you will be not asked for EAP file name, the file in cell will be used. The same applies for saving cells back to Enterprise Architect.

Column “J” is hidden – it contains requirement GUIDs for subsequent updates.

 

Saving requirements to Enterprise Architect

After you made changes in requirement list in your spreadsheet, you can save them directly to project EAP file. Press “to EA”.

Program shows dialog with EAP package structure. Choose your requirements root package. New requirements (requirements without GIUD) will be inserted into this package.

 

Saving starts immediately after your select the package.

 

Data transformations

In our Excel template we use ID and Description for requirement code and description. In Enterprise architect we use Requirement name and notes. Enterprise architect has an alias attribute, which can store requirement code, but it is not useful, because we have to see this code in Project browser. So we have to transform

ID

Description

REQ113

Must be recoverable quickly.

In the event of software or hardware failure the system must be able to be recovered to full operating mode within the tolerances listed below. In the event of parts of the system failing the system must be able to be run in a safe mode.

to

Name

Notes

REQ113 - Must be recoverable quickly.

Must be recoverable quickly.

In the event of software or hardware failure the system must be able to be recovered to full operating mode within the tolerances listed below. In the event of parts of the system failing the system must be able to be run in a safe mode.

 

This is done using simple VBA functions. Code is delimited by “-“ character. Requirement name is derived from first sentence in description.

 

Conclusion

This article is mentioned as other example of extending Enterprise architect. It is a real life example, we use it in our company for many projects.

If it is suitable for you, use it! Any comments are welcome!

Petr Přibyl

CCA Group a.s.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Community Resources

Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect version 11 is very close to being released (I am currently using Release Candidate 2), and promises a host of new and improved functionality. It’s a good time to revisit the built-in reporting, and reflect on how the stepwise improvements during the Enterprise Architect 10 release series have been rolled-up into a streamlined user experience…

Improving the dialogue

You can right-click on a model root in the Project Browser and view the improved Generate Documentation dialog window. In particular, you will see that the Generate tab contains some additional fields to enable the easy selection of:         

  • Table of Contents
  • Stylesheet
  •  Cover Page
  • Diagram Theme

 

Figure 1: Generate documentation dialog

 

Previous versions of Sparx Enterprise Architect already provided a skilled operator with the ability to create all of these things. However, the dialogue changes (along with some other enhancements in the report template editor) are aimed at making things easier and more obvious for operators with beginning and intermediate levels of skill.

 

Generate documentation, not just RTF

If you click Generate Documentation | Generate | Output Format then you will see that you have options to generate Microsoft Document Format (DOCX), alongside the previously available Portable Document Format (PDF) and Rich Text Format (RTF).

Figure 2: Selecting an output format

 

You might not be aware that Microsoft has discontinued making enhancements its proprietary RTF specification, and that some new features in Word 2010 and later versions will not save properly into the RTF format. The new format will enable Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect to continue inter-operating with the Microsoft proprietary world.

Your model’s structure can be orthogonal to your project documents

Did you know that your model’s structure need not be dictated by the project reports that you want to generate? You can use Documentation Diagrams, containing Master Document elements, to coordinate Document Model elements and/or Template Fragments into producing production ready project documentation.

 

Figure 3: Overview of documentation elements

Model Documents can act as drag-and-drop targets for packages from the Project Browser, or get populated by user defined element searches, to create individually formatted sections for your documents. Fine grained control over document subsections can achieved through using Fragments, which can use custom templates, scripts (either JavaScript, JScript or VBScript), or SQL queries. Each Model Document can be formatted using a custom template, if required.

 

Exploring the rich report generation functionality of Sparx Enterprise Architect version 11 can take some time, and creating advanced custom templates can be quite a specialized task. However, it is important to remember that only a few people in your organization might need to develop the skills to create custom templates, whilst everyone else just needs to click through the Generate Documentation dialog, or a pre-prepared Documentation Diagram.

Ideally, you will be able to create a Documentation Diagram containing a Master Document for each of the project documents you need to create. Each document can then be right-clicked and produced on demand.

Figure 4: Example project documentation

 

Of course, power users of Sparx Enterprise Architect can create a script to produce documentation for the entire project, on demand, with a single mouse click!

 

Published in Tutorials