Enhancements to Generate Documentation in Sparx Enterprise Architect version 11

Author: Colin Coates

Sparx 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 EA 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

Generate Documentation Dialog

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).

Select Output Format

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 Enterprise Architect to continue interoperating 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.

Overview of Documentation Elements

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.

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!

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