Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Visio-like diagrams in Enterprise Architect

Enterprise Architect diagrams are UML-based and server much better purpose than display-only information. However, that does not mean that they also can not look better.
Now, this refers mostly to Deployment diagrams, displaying the hardware layout at certain locations.

What I do to make the diagrams pretty as well as useful, is to create custom Stereotypes. Then, most nodes are assigned appropriate stereotype, like Server, Web Server, Database Server, and so on. Although stereotypes can be configured to carry a common graphics, I find it creates more troubles than it solves.

In order to display additional details in a diagram, open diagram properties, Elements tab, and enable Tags compartment. Sometimes Notes also come in handy.
This setting will display element Tags on the diagram. These are really handy on deployment diagrams as I tend to put most structured information there, like IP Address, URL, etc.

In the end, to display an icon on the diagram, each element has to be set-up manually. As mentioned, it is possible to assign a graphic to a stereotype and then have all Web Servers display the same icon but this will also prevent display of Tags that we enabled in the previous step. Setting up the graphics for each element somehow keeps the Tags displayed *and* shows the icon. The tags are displayed in a separate element that is linked to the node. Notes compartment, however, is not separated in the same manner and is not visible when a node has an image assigned.

This all refers to Enterprise Architect 8.0 so hopefully these issues are resolved in some of the latter versions.

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