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Only Connect – Exploring traceability in Sparx EA models

This webinar explores some of the different ways that EA lets us create and view traceability information, and how the decisions on HOW we do that hugely affect the value of our models.

Getting EA traceability to work for you

Getting EA traceability is the most popular EA requirement. But it’s not as simple as just connecting two things together on a diagram.

What is traceability?

Why is it useful? How can we accomplish it? And how can we exploit it to get business value?

In this webinar Ian describes various ways of modelling connections in EA, and looks at the advantages and drawbacks of each one in modelling for traceability.

The webinar doesn’t focus on the things that we need to model but instead concentrates on the links that we might want to create between them. And in doing so, being able to view ‘virtual relationships’ between widely different parts of the model. So, for example, create a business process at one end of the model and by following the links to the far end of the model see its impact on a change request.

To deliver value, models need two things:

  1. CONSISTENCY – The same style of modelling everywhere in the model
  2. USEFUL OUTPUTS – Available to the intended audience in a way that they can use


The importance of choosing the right modelling styles, why use simple vs. complicated solutions, and the appropriate use of modelling standards. And when to create your own stereotypes.

Connection options

  1. Multiple relationships between the same elements. Can make for very rich expressive models but …
  2. Textual Notes – hyperlinks in the element properties. Relationships can be printed, but there are drawbacks…
  3. Relationships based on Tagged Values – which appear in the EA Traceability view but not in Related elements or in diagrams
  4. Internal Relationships which are all part of an element, but why would you? There are alternatives...
  5. Super-relationships – putting tagged values into connectors, but there’s a danger of overloading…
  6. Virtual relationships – but virtual relationships don’t exist in EA…

Useful Outputs

Ask your stakeholders how they want it presented. What do they need? Do they need to see your working out? Here are a few ways to view Traceability information.

Viewing traceability information

  1. EA Traceability View – EA out of the box – good for the EA experts
  2. Traceability diagrams in Prolaborate – dynamic diagrams that let you change your focus
  3. Multi-hop relationships in eaDocX documents – End to end, without the intermediate steps
  4. Model Expert Advanced Relationship Matrix – Simple summary view that hides the ‘working out’

Ian’s personal rules for using connectors:

• Re-use before you invent. Understand what those UML connector types mean and use them in the way they were intended.
• Use ordinary connectors and first class elements you can put on a diagram.
• Maintain the consistency of your models. PS Model Expert is a free download so there's no excuse for not using it.
• Ask the consumers of your information how they want to see it - then they may even use it!

Working Smarter

If you follow these suggestions, there’s a good chance that your models will be more useful than you think they will be. You can still produce good models for individual projects but when you add all the bits together, you’ll get something even smarter. And that’s really what EA is all about – working smarter.

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