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About Model Expert

From the team that brought you eaDocX, the worlds best selling extension for Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect. Developed by EA users for EA users, Model Expert makes model quality easy.

Why did we write Model Expert?

Model Expert started out as the engine which drives the ‘Quick Document’ feature of the eaDocX document generator. This analyzes the content of a package, to see what kinds of elements and connectors are being used.
We soon realized this was a useful piece of knowledge, and relevant to all modellers, whether they need to create documents or not. So the first version of Model Expert was created to take this analysis and create an EA diagram from it – the ‘Meta-model’ of the package.
Using it on a project where the number of users in the team was expanding rapidly, it provided a great way to see what the new users were doing. But when we saw how creatively they were modelling, we soon realised that what we needed was a way to ‘find and fix’ inconsistencies. So that’s what we built.
After working in this way for some time and improving model quality ‘after the event’, our customers then asked “How can we stop these kinds of issues happening in the first place?”
So, working with the same customer teams, we built the ‘guided modelling’ function so that their models didn’t get into a mess again.
Helping everyone to Model Right First Time.

Meet the team

Ian Mitchell

Business Analyst & Model Expert Developer

I graduated in 1983 from Oxford with a degree in Engineering, which means I could start from Schrödinger’s Wave Equation and prove a wheelbarrow, but couldn’t actually engineer anything.

I started out with IBM – first in their development lab in the UK. As some of the people I worked for were almost 40, this was clearly a job for old people, so I moved over to customer-facing roles building what were then called client-server systems, that were obviously going to take over the world. It’s here that I got interested in how software got built, especially Object Oriented software, which was in its early stages of commercial use.

On one project, I managed a team of 20 Smalltalk programmers – in the days when Smalltalk was cool, and was definitely going to take over the world – and co-wrote a CASE (Computer Aided Software Engineering) tool (ironically) called GOOSE – Graphical Object Oriented Solution to Everything. For this, me and my co-authors shared an IBM “Outstanding Innovation Award”, due to the huge amount of money which the project saved by using the tool. It would be great to say that the tool was then adopted by IBM, and we all went on to become rich and famous, but it didn’t, and we didn’t. It got lost in the internecine wars that are IBM product development, and we all wandered off to do other things. Sigh.

The experience did, however, give me a life-long interest in how engineering-style approaches can be used to create better business applications. Yes – I really am interested in this. (Don’t tell my children though – they already think I’m sad.)

After that I worked for a few years as a consultant and mentor for QA Training, then the UK’s largest – and best – IT training company. I looked after, and was part of, a team of trainers who went out to customer sites to give advice on adopting OO techniques. During this period I worked with dozens of customer projects - Airlines, Insurance, Banking and Government - and saw how the use of a few hours from an independent ‘expert’ could make a big difference to a project. This is why I’m a real fan of the idea of project mentors, who can stop projects from re-inventing ideas which already exist, and giving them a sounding-board for new plans.

At the end of this period, QA produced the first ever UML (Unified Modelling Language) course, and for a while this was the focus of my mentoring work, using a variety of other CASE tools. It’s at this point I started to call myself a Business Analyst. That was 10 or so years ago.

Since then, I’ve been an independent consultant, working as a BA for telecoms companies mostly in the UK, and doing occasional teaching – I wrote a UML course for a client, which I’m still adding-to and using.

It was during one of these projects that I first came across Enterprise Architect. I was the UML-specialist in a small team of BAs, who were writing the Use Cases for a telecoms system. EA was then – and still is – a fraction of the price of competing tools, and has a better user interface. If it doesn’t take over the world, I’ll be very surprised (surprisingly).

Our project also wrote its own document generator, to take the information from our EA model and produce all the documents for the project. Like many EA users have done, this was a series of Word macros, which needed a programmer to make changes, but which showed me the difference which a document generator can make to an EA project.

So, in a gap between projects, I totally re-wrote the initial generator to be an EA add-in, and eaDocX was finally born.

After working with various clients, I realised that the reason their generated documents often didn't look as they expected, was that the source models were not consistent. Data was missing or inconsistent. And that usually happened when there were large teams all adding to the model using their own favourite modelling standards. So I developed Model Expert, initially as a way to sense check and fix existing models, and then it expanded into providing help to stop those mistakes happening in the first place.

I’m now full-time coding and testing eaDocX and Model Expert, as well as planting and chopping down trees on our 45 acre farm in the Black Mountains¹, and spend most days listening to BBC 6 Music. The former is proving a timely reminder of my skills as an OO programmer, and why I prefer being a business analyst.

Our hope for Model Expert is that (1) every EA user will buy it and then (2) everyone's model quality will improve - making all their deliverables (not just documents) better.

...and Model Expert and eaDocX will take over the world, so I can go and get a real job making furniture, which is much more interesting than all of the above.

Oh, and somewhere in all that, I got married to Jackie (the eaDocX CTO, CMO, & CEO) who is a project manager and a real-life Rocket Scientist, and we have two daughters.

¹Yes- I know this adds-up to more than one job. Just look at the timestamps on my emails to see how this is done...

Jackie Mitchell

Team Rocket Scientist

I studied Physics (yes really) at Oxford University, before starting my career working in Space - first as a satellite design engineer, then project manager. I loved the technology, out of this world (!) problem solving, engineering design and manufacturing, all of this within a highly regulated and structured environment.

Being part of a multi-disciplinary team and achieving great things was hugely satisfying - even though to get our projects operational, we had to place them on a large complicated firework and light the blue touch paper, and sometimes that didn't go quite to plan...

On leaving the Space world I qualified with an MBA from the University of Bath (The UK Sunday Times University of the Year 2011-12yes) then set up and ran a management training and consulting company. I enjoyed the work, and helping people to improve their skills, but missed the technology and being part of a large team, so returned to project management with Airbus. There, I project managed an international team designing and building A380 wing structures and components. Again, a highly structured environment where delivery had to conform to rigorous change management and configuration control systems...

After Airbus I moved into telecoms and IT. In these industries I have managed IT and IVR systems developments, contact centre infrastructure changes, web platform upgrades, multi channel fulfilment (integrated ordering, contract management and delivery systems for phones via web, contact centres & in stores) and customer loyalty programmes. These have included not only implementing new technology but also introducing business and organisational changes.

You could say my career has been on a permanently downward trajectory, from Giotto (outside our Solar System) via weather satellites in earth orbit, via aircraft at 35,000 feet, to ground level with mobile phones.

But regardless of the altitude, in every case I have needed to understand the technology, the people, the processes, the politics, the business case, the risks, the operations and much more, just to deliver... and keep my stakeholders happy with the information they needed.

I was amazed, on entering IT, to discover how relatively un-structured and uncontrolled so much development was. Compared to my engineering experience, information was often incomplete and usually scattered through various departments, tools and peoples heads. Delivering projects was more an art than a science. Thinking was unstructured and solutions often had unexpected consequences, as they were developed and deployed in a vacuum (like Space, only different...) without reference to the rest of the business.

But then I discovered Enterprise Architect - and how much it could have helped.

Why did my BAs not tell me about this? A proper tool to do REAL SOFTWARE ENGINEERING. Now I feel much more at home. And with all the engineering data in one place, I can build my Project Management work on a firm foundation.

EA can hold and connect business and technical information, and eaDocX makes it easy to get at that information accurately and quickly. So I am excited about what EA and eaDocX together can do to improve the flow of information and improve the delivery of my projects and programmes.

I know what hard looks like. I am a rocket scientist! And wherever possible I want an easy life...

I think that EA and eaDocX just might make that possible, and give me more time for Rugby (supporting Wales, of course), making music, and a million and one things I haven't quite got around to yet.

Ability Engineering

Model Expert is sold by Ability Engineering Ltd, a UK based Company providing Training, Mentoring and Talent for Business Analysis and Management to the IT, mobile telecoms, finance and aerospace industries.

Model Expert 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.

We know the challenge of maintaining model quality whilst growing the use of EA. Now we have the solution – Model Expert

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