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Tuesday, 23 April 2013 11:30

Track changes in generated documents with EA + SharePoint (or without!)

Written by Hamish King
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I wanted to share a tip that I've been using for a while that seems to be a reason some people give for not liking Enterprise Architect (EA) – not being able to track document changes.

EA works by generating RTF documents of its content which many users prefer of the more interactive HTML renderings of that same content – either due to habit or function. While EA has countless benefits for analysis (just read this blog for many examples!) it doesn't provide document versioning / differencing out of the box.

This is no problem at all since MS Word has all the differencing functionality we need to provide that same level of ‘track changes’ that we have all come to depend on (or hate!).

Lets define a scenario to frame our example:

The example scenario

Ok – so you generated a use case document from EA (Enquiry Use Case v0.1 rtf) and sent it around for an internal review the previous week and have been updating the EA model with the required changes. All of the feedback has been incorporated into the model and you proceed to generate a new version, this time calling it Enquiry Use Case v0.2.rtf.

So we now have two documents. The v0.2 document contains our updates but doesn't contain any mark-up to distinguish what has changed which will annoy our reviewing stakeholders.

So what do we do? We turn to the powerful ‘compare’ functionality built into Microsoft Word of course!

In either word document, select the ‘Review’ tab on the ribbon, select to ‘Compare’ button and the ‘Compare’ button again.

Select the Word Compare function

Now we are presented with the comparison options that Word will use when parsing each document.


Word compare options


Original document – locate the v0.1 document

Revised document – locate the v0.2 document

Select the ‘More >>’ button to see further options

Ensure ‘Tables’ is ticked if your RTF template is set up to format using tables

Ensure ‘Show Changes in:’ option is set to New document

Ready? Hit ‘OK’ to generate a new document with the marked changes

example of generated comparison document

We now have a tracked changes displayed for two separately generated documents.

Whats the SharePoint connection? well..

SharePoint for document management

Maintaining document versions is a pain, especially when following a method of manually producing document change sets as above, so using SharePoint makes this a little easier.

Office’s built in SharePoint integration means we can overwrite our previous version with our newly generated model and let SharePoint handle the pain of version tracking.

CAVEAT: This only works when the document library settings for SharePoint are configured to force versioning (Document Library Settings -> Versioning Settings )

document library versioning settings
document library versioning settings

Make sure ‘Create major and minor (draft) versions’ is checked and

Require documents to be checked out before they can be edited? is set to ‘Yes’.

If you don’t have permissions to set the above, contact your SharePoint administrator and they can enable this specifically for the SharePoint document library that you are using.

With versioning configured, rather than saving locally and making sure we rename versions appropriately, we can simply save over the top of the existing version.

Save directly to SharePoint from Word

Select or type a ‘SharePoint’ in the dialogue and locate the existing document. It will prompt if you want to overwrite the existing document – confirm this and we are done.

We have overwritten the current version only and we can easily roll back to any previous as required – no messing around with file naming conventions, multiple documents sources and all the pains that exist without document management.

When we have multiple versions, Word gives us an added feature that we can use for our document comparing advantage.


All previous versions are accessible directly from Word (or any Office app).

We also get an added bonus feature under the ‘Compare’ function we demonstrated earlier.


compare specific version
compare specific version options when working from SharePoint document

Here we get the Major and Last Version options again but we also get the Specific Version option which allows to select ANY version – useful when you've updated several minor versions.

Now you should have one less reason not to use EA and few handy SharePoint document management tips to boot!


Read 10284 times Last modified on Tuesday, 23 April 2013 22:15
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