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In model analysis activities, it is critical to make early statements and diagnosis from a high level of abstraction. Currently, these tasks are difficult to perform, and they require both the involvement of experts and the elaboration of specialized artifacts. Furthermore, the complexity of the tasks increases as models become bigger and more detailed. In other contexts, it has been noticed that total / holistic / unfiltered visualizations may give insight about the models, providing analysts a starting point for exploration and general pattern discovery. In this paper, we evaluate the support that six different Enterprise Architecture (EA) modeling tools offer to EA analysis activities, and assess the strengths and weaknesses of six visualization frameworks, in order to extend the analysis of enterprise models by Visual Analysis. The evaluation is based on a set of 14 requirements which are either visualization-related or specific to EA analysis, and its results were harvested from a) observed characteristics of the diagrams of these tools, and b) visualizations from an enterprise model, generated with the aforementioned visualization frameworks. These results point to several actionable subjects and research opportunities for the field of EA Modeling and Analysis.
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Journal of Object Technology
Published by AITO — Association Internationale pour les Technologies Objets
Evaluating the capabilities of
Enterprise Architecture modeling tools
for Visual Analysis
David NaranjoaMario SánchezaJorge Villalobosa
a. Department of Systems and Computing Engineering, Universidad de
los Andes, Colombia
Abstract In model analysis activities, it is critical to make early statements
and diagnosis from a high level of abstraction. Currently, these tasks are
difficult to perform, and they require both the involvement of experts and
the elaboration of specialized artifacts. Furthermore, the complexity of
the tasks increases as models become bigger and more detailed. In other
contexts, it has been noticed that total / holistic / unfiltered visualizations
may give insight about the models, providing analysts a starting point for
exploration and general pattern discovery.
In this paper, we evaluate the support that six different Enterprise
Architecture (EA) modeling tools offer to EA analysis activities, and assess
the strengths and weaknesses of six visualization frameworks, in order to
extend the analysis of enterprise models by Visual Analysis. The evaluation
is based on a set of 14 requirements which are either visualization-related
or specific to EA analysis, and its results were harvested from a) observed
characteristics of the diagrams of these tools, and b) visualizations from
an enterprise model, generated with the aforementioned visualization
frameworks. These results point to several actionable subjects and research
opportunities for the field of EA Modeling and Analysis.
Keywords enterprise architecture, analysis, visualization, tool evaluation
1 Introduction
Evolving markets, increasing IT adoption and augmenting complexity have drawn a
growing interest in disciplines such as Enterprise Architecture (EA), where extracting
new information out of enterprise models is often a difficult but relevant task. From
a Business Analyst perspective, this means exploring the models and formulating
relevant questions.
David Naranjo, Mario Sánchez, Jorge Villalobos. Evaluating the capabilities of Enterprise Architecture
modeling tools for Visual Analysis. Licensed under . In Journal of Object Technology, vol. 0, 2013,
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2·Naranjo et al.
One critical issue is the lack of consensus on what should be the starting point of
these analyses. Their real value lies in their outcomes, which are the basis for strategic
decisions that affect the whole company, but they require the analyst to ask the right
questions. Analyses over EA models thus need to be flexible and scalable [
because they are usually formulated in an ad-hoc manner, and are often based on
hypotheses and scenarios that involve ‘what if...’ questions.
This blind spot in the analysis process creates a great challenge for the analyst, who
has to acquire specific knowledge and experience to know where to look. The alternative
is missing key information, or reaching false statements about the architecture. For
instance, a situation would arise where there isn’t an a priori knowledge of which
services are the most used, or even their relation to the business processes of the
enterprise. Acquiring knowledge of this type sometimes needs the elaboration of
specialized artifacts (e.g., service and process catalogs, matrices and views) or the
introduction of complementary methodologies, such as SOA service discovery [
that despite their usefulness and pertinence, add unwanted complexity to the task of
finding overall patterns or draw new conclusions of the model.
We can divide approaches to EA model analysis in three complementary categories:
queries, views and visualizations. Queries are questions expressed in a formal language.
They often require previous knowledge of the concepts involved, and their complexity
is usually proportional to the value of the outcome. Views are a specialized form
of queries (i.e., a selection of model elements), and offer a partial glimpse of the
model. However, views lack a sense of continuum, missing ‘the big picture’ as they
cover specific stakeholder concerns. While most EA frameworks offer abstraction
mechanisms such as layers and viewpoints in order to reduce the number of artifacts
per model [
], it is difficult to see all the concepts in a holistic way [
as legibility of a view decreases when it covers a wider range of elements.
Visualizations, seen as the visual representation of views, augmented with analytical
facts, focus on delivering key information through a visual language and visual
metaphors. They can inspire new questions and further exploration, and they can
help identifying sub-problems, trends and outliers [
]. These trends, seen as visual
patterns or
, are typical configurations of visual constructs. They represent
critical/important elements (or groups thereof), and structural anomalies from the
whole model, which may correspond to information patterns in the head of the
analyst. Thus, images are of significant cognitive importance: they accelerate pattern
recognition while having an almost unlimited capacity of communication by making
use of several visual attributes that encode information or emphasize certain message.
Despite the benefits that it brings, visualization of models does not scale well:
comprehensibility and communicability of a model deteriorates rapidly as complexity
and size increases [
]. Additionally, the manual creation of visualizations is an
error prone and time consuming task [
]. Under the need of mechanisms to
support the coordination of business and IT on various levels of abstraction [
existing tools offer only a view-oriented perspective of EA modeling, and their analysis
capabilities are often based on report generation. Interaction (e.g. changing the focus
of interest) and navigability (exploration of the model), two key elements in cognitive
integration, are often neglected by these tools. We argue that in order to link partial
views of a model and perform model-wide analysis,
bird-eye views
or ‘long-shot’
diagrams that comprise all elements and their relations are needed. These views act as
overall cognitive maps into which information from individual views can be assembled
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Evaluating the capabilities of Enterprise Architecture modeling tools for Visual Analysis ·3
The issues described above can be summarized in the following question: Is it
possible to offer high-level, effective and all-encompassing visual representations of
enterprise models that experts can use to make analysis and discovery of patterns
and anomalies? With this in mind, the objectives of this paper are: 1) to introduce
the concept of Overview Visualizations and describe their advantages in EA model
Analysis; 2) to expose a possible limitation in the support that current EA tools offer
for model analysis; 3) to introduce, describe, and justify a list of 14 requirements that
may be essential to an enterprise architect in order to overcome this limitation ; and 4)
to apply these requirements to six popular EA management tools and six visualization
tools, offering a comparative evaluation that assesses the strengths of each tool and
gives space for future research on the key areas defined by the requirements.
This study examines the focus that some EA tools give to visualization, providing
some hints on the direction that these tools point out and their ability to eventually
support visual analysis. Given the maturity that these tools have achieved in the aspect
of offered features for modeling [
], we seek to depict the current maturity level
that these tools altogether have achieved in terms of model exploration and analysis.
In this aspect we propose a set of requirements that arose when we were exploring
the ‘big picture’ concept. However, the objectives of this study do not include offering
a judgement of which tool is better than other. Instead, we see this study as an
exploratory analysis of EA visualization, and we think each architect should carefully
consider which tool serves better his particular purposes. Such an assessment is not
complete if other (non-visual) requirements are not taken into account. For instance,
price is a feature that most architects consider carefully when selecting an EA tool.
The structure of this paper is as follows: Section 2 will describe similar approaches,
also commenting on the main issues that we have encountered when trying to represent
large EA models. Section 3 will introduce Overview Visualizations, and comment
on how we can achieve effective information visualization through the use of the
visual semantics of these models. In Section 4 we will describe the requirements of a
visualization tool for model analysis, from the visual and EA perspectives. Section
5 is a summary of our case study, with a description of our evaluation methodology,
followed by Section 6, where we offer the results of the evaluation, and under this light
we will comment on EA and Visualization tool support. Finally, Section 7 will be a
space for discussion of the results, and point to research opportunities on this subject.
2 Related Work
Large model visualization is a problem that has been tackled from different disciplines:
Database schemas in Information Engineering [
], library dependencies in Software
Engineering [
], or even in ontologies of big domains [
]. This
issue can be summarized with the Database Comprehension Problem: “Usefulness of
any diagram is inversely proportional to the size of the model depicted” [FM86].
How to obtain cognitively manageable representations of large models is a known
and mostly unresolved issue. Nevertheless, we will introduce three kinds of approaches,
the first two pointed by Tzitzikas [
]: Visual Approaches (Section 2.1) such as
graph layout optimization, and Semantic Approaches, e.g., model filtering (Section
2.2). We also include another kind, Analytical Approaches (see Section 2.3).
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Figure 1 – Force-Directed layout applied to the model of our case study using GraphViz
(top) and GraphStream (bottom). The display of all labels hinders readability, but
showing just elements and relations alone implies a loss of semantic correspondence
with the model. Journal of Object Technology, vol. 0, 2013
Evaluating the capabilities of Enterprise Architecture modeling tools for Visual Analysis ·5
2.1 Visual Approaches
Typical visual representations of models fall short as these models get bigger; it is
common to find diagrams that extend themselves through very large sheets of paper, in
some cases covering entire walls. Visual representation of these models is not an easy
task, as an increase of visual elements is detrimental to the human’s cognitive load as
well as to the system’s response time [
]. For instance, most CASE (Computer
Aided Software Engineering) tools require arrangements ‘by hand’ [
], which
means that a great amount of time is spent dragging elements to form a decipherable
Graph Layouts
Graph layouts are a method for dealing with situations with high information density
by structurally arranging elements based on graph properties. There are several
techniques for optimizing node placement, such as Force-Directed Layouts (FDLs),
based on a spring model of attraction and repulsion, with several implementations
such as the Fruchterman-Reingold algorithm [
], and enhancements made by
several authors [
]. Most visualization tools use FDLs (see Fig.
1) because of their flexibility and tendency to be aesthetically pleasing, exhibiting
symmetries and producing crossing-free layouts for planar graphs [
]. Some
modeling environments, such as KIELER[
] and Enterprise Architect[
] take
advantage of the different FDL algorithms to manage the complexity of large diagrams.
Another common technique is using Circular Layouts. These algorithms place
nodes onto a circumference, generally with their edges across the embedding circle, with
the benefit of encoding information in different layers of the same representation. The
tricky part is to minimize edge crossings, which is a hard problem [
]. However,
if we organize elements under some domain specific criteria, we can obtain a more
clear representation (see Fig. 2). For instance, we can assert that Enterprise Models
have groups of common elements/clusters. If we order elements in the circumference
by groups, the inner part of the circle will display inter-group relations, thus reducing
edge crossings.
Other interesting approaches that have been given little attention involve projections
into non-Euclidean coordinates, such as Hyperbolic (
) and Spherical (
) spaces.
However, implementation of these algorithms have some limitations, such as their
restriction to quasi-hierarchical graphs[
], or even their handling of very large
graphs [KW05].
2.2 Semantic Approaches
Model Filtering and Clustering
Visual arrangement of model elements is not the only way at hand for dealing with
model complexity. Another recurring problem with large models is that all object
types are considered to be of equal importance. That means that visually, these models
are seen as flat conceptual schemas [
]. This is not always the desired result, as
on a high level of abstraction an analyst would like to see that key structural concepts
are given more visual importance than secondary or supportive concepts.
We usually decompose a complex problem space in layers (or levels) of abstraction,
in order to depict different views of the same problem. From a semantic point of view,
it is possible to create a hierarchy of views that cover the whole model. Approaches like
] propose mechanisms that allow designers to ‘zoom out’
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Figure 2 – Circular layout made with gephi[
] and prefuse[
], two visualiza-
tion tools. Using different layouts and arranging the relative position of elements can
reduce visual complexity and improve understanding.
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Evaluating the capabilities of Enterprise Architecture modeling tools for Visual Analysis ·7
on class diagrams, allowing them to view a model on a higher level of abstraction. This
is achieved by finding key concepts of semantic importance that keep the underlying
network connected, in combination with traditional abstraction techniques, such as
generalization, aggregation, and association. Recent approaches like [
] rely on
capturing the information needs from an user by the definition of an interest function
that filters model elements in relation to their relative closeness and global importance.
However, it is difficult to achieve precise automatic abstraction. This means that
we have to deal with information loss (e.g., unwanted filtering of relations or elements)
and make heavy use of abstraction rules that certainly are not easily created and are
specific to the metamodel (e.g., an abstraction for a UML model is different from
an abstraction in BPMN or ArchiMate models). For this reason, generic filtering
and clustering techniques are used instead, but it has been shown that they require
additional user input and manual intervention or correction [Egy02].
2.3 Analytical approaches
Automatic layout algorithms alone are not sufficient for the analysis of large models,
and current filtering techniques are not satisfactory as well. In addition, classical
hierarchical decomposition techniques that are used for visualizing large plain graphs
are rarely applied or tested on conceptual diagrams [TH06].
Taking into account the benefits and limitations of both approaches, Tzizikas and
Hainaut [
] propose a way to ‘tame’ large conceptual diagrams using a ranking
algorithm that filters elements, finally displaying them with a FDL algorithm. Chan
et al. [
] offer a bottom-up approach for interactive visual analysis, where the
user starts with a localized view of the model, which is constantly filtered through
navigation of the graph, keeping a window of interest through the relations of the
visible elements, which are displayed also by a FDL. An important restriction of their
approach is that the model must be hierarchical.
In other application fields, such as Software Architecture, we can find approaches
that make use of more sophisticated visual metaphors, such as Voronoi Treemaps
] or 3D city maps [
], and offer flexible analysis methods
and multiple visual metaphors (e.g. SourceMiner [
]). For instance,
see the work of Hipp and Reichert [
] in Business Process
Visualization, and the tool ..cantor.dust.. [
] for the analysis of program binaries.
Concerning Enterprise Architecture, Ernst et al. [
] offer an extensive
evaluation of tool support, recognizing the importance of visualization in analysis and
EA management tasks. Buckl et al. [
] build visualizations using model trans-
formations, which they use to map semantic elements to their graphical representation
on a layered cartography metaphor, a methodological aid which greatly facilitates
analysis tasks.
3 Towards effective EA overview visualizations
Our approach for exploring and visualizing EA models, which will be described in this
section, can be considered an analytic approach, and is based on the hypothesis that
Enterprise Models, seen as complex networks, have some topological properties on
their own that differentiate them from simple conceptual models or random graphs
(see [NSV13]):
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These models grow in a complex fashion, i.e. new elements and relations are not
introduced randomly.
Enterprise Models are structured and have first-order clusters that represent
Based on the previous property, their structure is semi-hierarchical, and each
domain/layer can be connected to another by inter-domain relations.
Relations are often given more importance that elements themselves.
Finally, there are elements that are structurally more important, as they keep
the network connected.
While there can be models in other application domains that may share these
properties, we consider that the problem of visually analyzing this kind of models
is worth the attention, so we will explore this problem from our experience with
Enterprise Architecture.
3.1 Overview visualizations
EA models are usually layered (e.g. business layer, information layer, applications
layer, technology layer). Guaranteeing that separation of concerns, while providing
traceability among those layers, seems to be one of the biggest challenges in modeling
enterprise architectures. That challenge becomes a critical issue for large, complex
For this reason, when we are modeling and analyzing Enterprise Models, we
usually cover one or more stakeholder concerns by selecting suitable model elements
and bundling this selection as a viewpoint [
]. Views that conform to these
viewpoints describe parts of the model within a given scope. This makes sense when we
need to develop representations that are understandable by both business and technical
experts [
], or in general, when we need to provide a medium for communication
between people with different professional backgrounds [
]. This often requires
using a strategy for the design of these views. For instance, the ArchiMate [
language suggests a set of Viewpoints that have different levels of detail (Content
These levels of detail ascertain three different needs: 1) To provide an Overview
that covers multiple layers and aspects, allowing the use of all concepts and relations
of the language, e.g. with Layered and Landscape Map Viewpoints. 2) To give Detail
with Viewpoints that focus on a concrete layer and one aspect of the model that the
architect needs to point out, e.g. with Actor Co-operation or Application Structure
Viewpoints, and 3) To provide Coherence by focusing on relations between the different
layers, e.g. with Organization or Product Viewpoints.
While localized/filtered views (e.g. Detail and Coherence in the case of ArchiMate)
are certainly useful as they allow detailed examination of an Enterprise Model, we
will focus on overview visualizations, which we consider are decisive for overall pattern
discovery. These total views bring useful information that is drawn from the overall
relationships of the entire [data] set [
], uncovering emergent patterns that are
visible only when all elements/relations are displayed.
These patterns, or Motifs [
], are typical configurations of visual constructs, and
are part of the topology of the model. They are useful for structural analysis of a model,
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Evaluating the capabilities of Enterprise Architecture modeling tools for Visual Analysis ·9
Figure 3 – The EA Visual Analysis process.
as they are easily distinguishable by an expert, and may have a correspondence with
semantic patterns in his experience (see Section 4.2.4). Also, Overview visualizations
can be a valuable tool for inspecting the interconnection between the domains/layers
of the model (see Section 4.2.1.
3.2 A Process for EA Visual Analysis
In Section 2 we identified two key concerns that surface in the visualization of large
models: a) the use of algorithms for the automatic placement of elements of the
model to minimize visual complexity, and b) the need of abstraction mechanisms that
reduce information overload. However, a generally overlooked issue is to maximize the
effectiveness of these visualizations, that means, to provide an overview of the model
that is expressive enough to support the tasks of an analyst.
This implies using the whole spectrum of the visual language to communicate
properties of the model. Bertin [
] described a set of seven visual variables
(position, shape, color, size, texture, value [opacity] and orientation), which are
modifications to ‘marks’ on a visual language. A ‘mark’ can be seen as an atomic unit
of notation -a sign- that represents (or encodes) information. Visual mapping is the
process of translating semantic information into visual constructs that encode this
information [NSV13].
In order to increase the expressiveness of EA model visualizations, our strategy is
to take advantage of this mapping. Inspired by the Visual Analysis process delineated
by van Wijk [
], we illustrate the EA Visual Analysis process (see Fig. 3) as an
iterative process between an Analyst and a Visual Analysis System, where hypotheses
are generated and refined by interacting with visualizations.
This process begins with an initial
of the Enterprise Model. This model
can be Analyzed, i.e. processed under a series of functions that operate in terms of
its structure, adding new information based on existing knowledge.
After this processing, the analyst will be able to
the model structure
with several Visualization Techniques. We use these visual representations as a memory
aid to amplify cognition - that means, we transform data into images to derive insights,
using pattern recognition from the human visual system to process visual information.
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ID Visual Requirement
MVE Maximize Visual Economy
EVE Enhance Visual Expressiveness
MN Minimize the Noise
NI Navigate and Interact
KC Keep the Context
DNI Derive New Insights
Guarantee Semantic Correspon-
ID EA Analysis Requirement
IRD Identify and Relate Domains
EKE Emphasize Key Elements
OFI Offer a Focus of Interest
FSD Facilitate Structural Diagnosis
Display Semantic Characteris-
Uncover Architectural Qualities
PFM Provide a Flexible Metamodel
Table 1 – Visual and Enterprise Architecture Requirements
As the analyst starts to
with visualizations of the model, Hypotheses
(which start as expectations, i.e. weak formulations) get refined over time. This
interaction modifies the parameters of a visualization.
Within each iteration, these formulations are confirmed or denied, as the analyst
starts to associate visual patterns with EA patterns that are present from knowledge
and experience. Finally, when the Analyst has acquired sound insights on the model,
he is able to
results from the analysis in terms of Assessments of the
Achieving effective visualizations is rarely a straightforward process. We can find
a large body of work on taxonomies such as the Data State Reference Model [
or visualization frameworks and patterns for choosing and using the appropriate data
visualization techniques –see [
]–. However, from our experience, we consider that the structural analysis of EA
(or similar) models has a set of requirements on its own (see Section 2.3).
4 Requirements for an unfiltered view of large EA models
With the issues mentioned above, we can say that there is no single recipe for dealing
with high information density and complexity in EA models. A combination of different
techniques is required, in addition to a broader use of the visual language, in order
to facilitate understanding and allowing the user to explore the ‘big picture’ of the
With the assistance of experts and fellow architects, we defined 14 criteria that
surfaced in the process of exploring the concept of this ‘bird-eye’ or ‘big picture’
overview in the context of EA. These criteria were separated in two categories. Vi-
sual Requirements and EA Analysis Requirements. The format is the same for all
requirements; they have an identifier (see Table 1), a name and a description.
These requirements are not an exhaustive list of the elements to take into account
both in Data Visualization and the Enterprise Architecture domains. Instead, we offer
an extensible evaluation that hopefully will bring additional criteria in the design or
selection of an EA management and/or a visualization tool, in order to fill the current
analysis gap.
We take various elements from the work of Moody [
] on Visual Notations
and the work of Gallagher et al. [
] on Software Architecture Visualization,
supporting ourselves with some other authors when necessary.
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Evaluating the capabilities of Enterprise Architecture modeling tools for Visual Analysis ·11
4.1 Visual Requirements
This first set of requirements deal with general visual principles that revolve around
large model representation. As such, they are not described in terms of the context
they are used, the tool employed, or the visual metaphor selected, provided that we
can transform the Enterprise Model and serve it as input to any visualization toolkit,
modeling environment, or any other specialized application.
Instead, these principles are common strategies that can be applied to model
visualization, seeing these models as structured information that have some common
4.1.1 Maximize Visual Economy (MVE)
Visual modeling languages, like UML or BPMN, have a concrete syntax that encodes
specific concepts of their metamodel into symbols. This mapping gives semiotic
clarity to the notation [
]. However, this one to one (or even one to many)
correspondence also results in complex visualizations that are difficult to decode due
to the large amount of symbols involved.
Applying visual economy to a total view is essential, and can be done by using a
minimal (but coherent) amount of visual constructs to represent the models. As the
enterprise metamodel may have a large number of concepts, an unfiltered view of the
model requires symbol overload -multiple concepts represented by the same symbol- in
order to avoid additional decoding by the user. This brainpower can be used instead
for extracting other kind of insights from the model.
4.1.2 Enhance Visual Expressiveness (EVE)
We can relate expressiveness of a visualization to the number of channels that it uses
to communicate. This requirement refers to a proper use of the visual vocabulary
supported by the mapping of model elements, relations and their properties to values
of available visual variables (see Section 3.1).
However, in order to emphasize certain messages, reduce errors and counteract
noise, a visual notation should also use redundant coding [
], which means that
more than one variable should be used to express some feature. It is important to
maintain a balance in the use of these variables, as their indiscriminate use may be
also detrimental to the expressiveness of a visualization.
4.1.3 Minimize the Noise (MN)
The designer of a visualization should avoid including information that is not relevant
to the message he seeks to transmit [
]. Noise can be inserted in the encoding
and decoding processes of a message, and it represents unwanted information that
accidentally appears, causing a random variation in the visual variables and distorting
the intended message [Moo09].
Multiple edge crossings (see Fig. 2) and overlapped symbols are a form of noise, as
they make difficult the process of decoding visual information. Other forms of noise
can be additional elements such as watermarks, unrelated labels, and comments that
are not relevant to the level of abstraction at hand. For instance, several tools allow
the introduction of arbitrary visual elements without defined semantics in the context
of the visualization [BEL+07].
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4.1.4 Navigate and Interact (NI)
Inspecting certain properties of a model and traveling through different levels of
abstraction is essential to analysis, as it is seldom a static process. It is desirable
that the user could make use of common user navigation techniques such as panning,
zooming, bookmarking, and rotating in both 2D and 3D environments [
], and
when necessary, modify the arrangement of certain elements easily. Also, animation of
layouts and the use of projections into different coordinate systems can be helpful in
the exploration of the model.
4.1.5 Keep the Context (KC)
The user will lose context when there is too much distance between elements. Scrolling
endlessly through a diagram is of no practical use [
], so we need mechanisms for
encoding visually large models without losing ‘the big picture’. Focus-plus-Context
] views, as well as other techniques that involve self-organizing layouts can be
used to keep the context.
4.1.6 Derive New Insights (DNI)
The power of models lies in their capacity of offering new insights, based on defined
facts. This can be done by two complementary approaches: The first one is to directly
ask questions in terms of elements and characteristics of the model, by describing
dynamic -ad hoc- queries about elements and their attributes, and finally displaying
the results of these queries in a visual form.
On the other hand, the pre-processing of models also allow new insight derivation, by
the means of general analysis functions that calculate graph properties (e.g. centrality,
eccentricity, paths, breadth trees, weights, depths), as well as domain-specific functions
that summarize and rank elements of the model in terms of its metamodel.
4.1.7 Guarantee Semantic Correspondence (GSC)
As model visualizations get more complex, the user may need tools that offer a
mechanism for remembering the correspondence between the graphic and conceptual
domains. For instance, cartographers often include legends that help readers on
decoding visual variables and symbols into meaning [Ber83].
Moreover, the visual metaphors and tools that we use in the field mediate with this
correspondence, making more difficult (or less) to travel all the way back from visual
meaning to the semantic model. In the case of editors for Visual Modeling Languages,
they offer a good semantic correspondence, as they also offer a set of symbols that can
help the user in this visual-semantic mapping. However, these kind of model views
are rarely economic or expressive enough for overview analysis of large models (see
Sections 4.1.1 and 4.1.2).
Semantic Correspondence can be achieved through familiarity, i.e. when the
structure of the visualization resembles artifacts/diagrams of the domain of the
stakeholder. However, as this is not always possible, visualizations should include
legends, or any other mechanism that relates visual variables to concepts.
4.2 Enterprise Architecture Analysis Requirements
These requirements make use of Visual Requirements (see Fig. 4), and represent
a (wish)list of features that an architect/analyst would like to have in his toolbox,
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Evaluating the capabilities of Enterprise Architecture modeling tools for Visual Analysis ·13
Figure 4 – Dependencies between requirements.
allowing him to diagnose, explore, and provide assessments of the EA model in terms
of interesting elements and groups, outliers, and visual patterns.
4.2.1 Identify and Relate Domains (IRD)
Dependencies: EVE.
To facilitate analysis, we are accustomed to separate and classify a collection of
elements into smaller groups. Classical EA frameworks are usually divided into three
or four groups, namely Business, Applications, Technology and Information layers.
Nevertheless, these layers often are incomplete, inconsistent or not quite rigorous
Similar to these layers, we can identify smaller groups (
) in our model,
which are logical abstraction elements that group common concepts, allowing to
separate the universe of discourse into more manageable partitions, which are inter-
connected and together form the EA metamodel.
These domains can be a part of the metamodel, or they can be discovered after we
generate the visualization of the model. For instance, we can perform a segmentation
of the elements of the metamodel, in order to identify these domains, and then apply
a force-directed layout to each cluster (See Fig. 5).
Visual differentiation between these domains is necessary, as the real value of most
EA metamodels lies in the relations between these domains, thus providing a bridge
between the different layers and provide alignment to the architecture. Also, this
division is the first level of abstraction that we can take advantage of.
4.2.2 Emphasize Key Elements (EKE)
Dependencies: EVE, DNI.
In Visual Analysis, we can also discover critical elements that have high structural
or semantic importance. It would be valuable that these Key Elements had a visual
emphasis or distinction in size, brightness, or any ordinal visual variable. Two
complementary approaches can serve us on this task:
Metamodel Approach:
Architects define concepts that have the highest
semantic importance in the metamodel (e.g. Service, Process, Strategy, or Organization
Unit). These Key Concepts may appear in different EA frameworks and metamodels,
and may have more significance than supportive concepts such as Activity, Primitive
Data Type, or Sales Order. In general, these pivotal elements can be: 1) extracted
automatically from the metamodel, as they extend, aggregate, or have several relations
with smaller (children) concepts, or 2) have a given weight assigned by an expert.
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14 ·Naranjo et al.
Figure 5 – Architectural Domains - Each cluster represents a domain, organized with a
Force Directed Layout and with dashed lines for inter-domain relations. This cus-
tomized FDL visualization was made with d3.js [BOH11].
Figure 6 – Structural Diagnosis - Visual patterns found in the visualization can lead to
structural assessments of the model.
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Evaluating the capabilities of Enterprise Architecture modeling tools for Visual Analysis ·15
Model Approach:
We can view the model as a network and identify the nodes
that preserve its structure, i.e. that keep the network connected. These nodes can be
discovered by calculating the criticality of an element by using graph ranking functions,
which assign a score to each node based on its relations with other nodes.
4.2.3 Offer a Focus of Interest (OFI)
Dependencies: KC.
In order to define a focus/scope for the analysis, the analyst should be able to
create groups of elements for further examination. As it happens with the depth of field
in photography, this person would want to give more detail to interesting elements,
while less important elements are also present but unfocused.
Analyses of an architecture can handle different levels of detail, which are dependent
of their scope, and may involve concepts found in different viewpoints (see Section
3). Thus, it is important to navigate these levels of abstraction, and move between
different groups of elements in order to get more insights.
Taking into account that we are interested in unfiltered overview visualizations,
we can provide a focus of interest by using visual constructs that denote similarity to
represent semantically similar elements. For instance, we could use spatial proximity
(i.e., position) to represent common elements, or use color shades (opacity) to highlight
relevant groups of elements.
4.2.4 Facilitate Structural Diagnosis (FSD)
Dependencies: MVE, NI.
Diagnostics are assessments that can be made by identifying recurring patterns in
the model. Experts in a domain can identify them easily, as these patterns usually
come from experience. For instance, physicians are able to diagnose a disease or
ailment with a quick glimpse to a specialized artifact, e.g. a MRI scan or a clinical
report of a patient.
In Visual Analysis, these information patterns are translated into visual patterns,
typical configurations of visual constructs (see Section 3.1). For instance, the patterns
of Fig. 6 are sub-structures found in the model, and represent topologies of the
Organization Structure of a company. This is useful when the analyst wants to identify
critical elements, structural anomalies and outliers from the whole model.
4.2.5 Display Semantic Characteristics (DSC)
Dependencies: DNI.
As described in Section 4.1.6, an analyst would appreciate the inclusion of mecha-
nisms where he can extract information that is not directly available from the model.
We can enrich visualizations with additional information (such as query results), and
metadata (e.g. annotations), in order to display semantic properties of the model. In
the context of EA, we can find several application scenarios:
Impact Analysis:
Discovery of potential changes in the architecture can be made
with a visualization of the whole model, supported by functions that calculate weights,
find paths and compare elements.
Model Validation:
Models are created under a set of rules (that can be rep-
resented by constraints such as OCL) and a common language (their metamodel).
Analysts and modelers require flexible graphical validation and visual detection of struc-
tural anomalies, e.g. metamodel conformity, attributes without values, or duplicate
Journal of Object Technology, vol. 0, 2013
16 ·Naranjo et al.
Figure 7 – Semantic Characteristics - Combining queries and visualizations for obtaining
better insights. Treemap visualization with d3.js [
], highlighting model elements
that are impacted by the removal of a given node.
Figure 8 – Example of the Architectural Qualities principle, displaying the division of
the model in three abstraction layers, from light to dark color intensities: Business
(Yellow), Applications (Blue) and Infrastructure (Green).
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Evaluating the capabilities of Enterprise Architecture modeling tools for Visual Analysis ·17
Traceability of Analysis:
An analysis tool should provide mechanisms that
record decisions and their rationale (see Anamnesis, [
]), and in general, of
the whole analysis process, including annotations on the elements and groups of the
User-defined analysis functions:
Ad hoc analyses can be enhanced using
custom functions that insert attributes to elements and relations in a user-defined
4.2.6 Uncover Architectural Qualities (UAQ)
Dependencies: GSC.
As we can make assessments in terms of certain elements or groups of the model,
architectural concepts can be given in terms of the whole architecture. These assess-
ments involve the collection of evidence and short descriptions or statements about
these architectures.
Even the most simple statements require the elaboration of artifacts (such as
matrices, catalogs or diagrams) that support these assessments. For instance, an
analyst would question the orientation of an enterprise architecture; e.g., Which
domain/layer is predominant in the architecture? If each domain has a color, which
color describes better or dominates the architecture? (See Fig. 8).
4.2.7 Provide a Flexible Metamodel (PFM)
Conceptual models should not come with visualization information within them; this
information needs to be decoupled [
] from their metamodels, as
representational data adds additional noise to the model when it is defined in an
implicit manner (as annotations or as new concepts). Thus, visual models should
decorate conceptual models, describing how to visualize data, instead of what to
However, information loss can occur between transformations from semantic to
visual models, which can result in incomplete or inaccurate visualizations. This gap
between the models leads to uncertainty that affects analysis tasks, as the user has to
deal with missing or misleading data. At the same time, too detailed visualizations
minimize readability. As suggested by Shneiderman [
], additional attributes
should be displayed selectively (details on demand).
5 Evaluation
It is desirable at this point to evaluate the capabilities of the different EA modeling
tools for various reasons. First, EA Frameworks such as TOGAF emphasize on the
selection of an appropriate set of tools for architecture development, as the EA model
needs to be “managed and controlled, particularly with a view to re-use” [
Given the breadth of the market for such tools, it becomes critical to evaluate which
tool serves an architect better for his specific needs, as these tools require in general a
significant investment in cost and learning.
Second, it is clear that most of these tools are focused on modeling, and analysis
of EA models is performed by both queries and views, complemented with static
reports that answer specific questions. Given that neither of the tools offer support
for dedicated visual analysis, it is necessary to assess to what extent those tools meet
the aforementioned requirements.
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18 ·Naranjo et al.
Finally, it is desirable to assess the capabilities of visualization tools that focus on
the analysis of large complex networks, and measure the difference between what is
offered by EA tools and what can be done with specialized visualization toolkits.
5.1 Case Study
Muebles de los Alpes
is a fictional furniture manufacturing company that is part of
our Enterprise Architectures Laboratory. This company has a complete technological
infrastructure, as well as a thorough Enterprise Architecture description. In order to
explore different concepts and applications of Model-driven Enterprise Architecture
we built an enterprise metamodel divided in 11 domains that describe aspects of the
architecture from different layers.
These domains incorporate elements from other metamodels (i.e., Business Mo-
tivation Model[
], ArchiMate[
], BPMN[
]) , or are customized
representations of standards, frameworks such as Service Oriented Architecture, or
even a formalization of common concepts such as Organizational Structure and In-
frastructure. This left us with a metamodel of 112 elements, with domain-wide and
inter-domain relations. The corresponding model has 904 elements and 1596 relations.
This complexity allowed us to explore different mechanisms for representing visually
this model under several visualization tools.
5.2 Methodology
This evaluation attacks two fronts. First, we evaluated EA modeling tools by inviting
an user, with experience both in modeling and EA, to model part of the architecture
of our Case Study, which was presented in a document. Due to the variety of modeling
languages and expressiveness of their metamodels in each tool, we associated fragments
of the architecture that could be best described using the constructs at hand. For
instance, Business Processes were modeled in more detail with tools that supported the
BPMN language, while other tools required a less granular approach, that nevertheless
covered more domains (consider ArchiMate, where we can model Business, Application,
Technology and Motivation domains).
The user had to interact with the tools, and inspect their modeling environments,
as well as the reports and diagrams that they generated. The goal of this first step
is to familiarize with the modeling tools by using them, so we did not evaluate the
accuracy or correctness of the produced models. While this empirical approach can
lead to a partial assessment of a tool, the user was encouraged to navigate the toolbars
and explore the different options available, in order to assess the analytic and visual
capabilities of each EA modeling tool. The modeling process consisted of modeling
a domain of the architecture. This process was accompanied by sample diagrams,
guidance on offered features, as well as providing the manuals for each tool.
As a second step, in order to evaluate Visualization toolkits, we took the complete
Enterprise model from our Case Study and developed several Overview Visualizations,
taking into account the requirements described in Section 4. Selected visualizations
were shown to the person, and he evaluated its score in each requirement.
Our approach for generating visualizations is based in [
and involved using ATL model to model (M2M) transformations and model to text
(M2T) transformations, as each tool accepted data under tool specific languages (i.e.
If the reader wants to know more about this and other case studies, more information is available
Journal of Object Technology, vol. 0, 2013
Evaluating the capabilities of Enterprise Architecture modeling tools for Visual Analysis ·19
Tool Vendor Version
Architect [BiZ13] BizzDesign 3.2.1 Professional
Rational System Architect [IBM] IBM 11.4
Enterprise Architect [Spa] Sparx Systems 9.3 Ultimate
Iteraplan [Gmb14] Iteratec 3.0 M1
SAMU Repository [Ato13] Atoll Technologies 5.31
Corporate Modeler Suite [Cas13] Casewise 2011.4
Table 2 – Selected EA modeling tools
, Dot
, or even Java). This often required the design of the
metamodels of these languages.
Figures 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 and 8 are tailored visualizations that resulted from the
exploration of these visualization tools.
In order to allow visual comparison of the different tools, we make use of Kiviat
diagrams [
] (also known as starplots [
]). Each angular spoke represents
a requirement, which we separated in two sections. Right hand side describes EA-
specific Requirements, and should be read clockwise. Left hand side represents Visual
Requirements, and should be read counter-clockwise (see Fig. 11).
We would like to highlight that this evaluation does not have a representative
sample, as it involves the experience of one user. Thus, the content of this section
serves as an illustration of how can we evaluate the visual capabilities of a set of
modeling and visualization tools. In order to replicate it, we suggest using a substantial
sample of subjects, as well as considering other critical aspects that influence the
evaluation, such as previous experience with some of the tools and their degree of
usability, as well as the time employed, background and visual literacy of the test
In our case, the test subject was a last-semester CS student, with considerable
experience in BizzDesign Architect and Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect, with
little or no familiarity with the rest of the tools. The time employed on each tool was
not constrained, but the recommendation was to employ at least 2 hours with known
tools, 3 hours for unknown tools.
5.2.1 EA Modeling tools
In order to evaluate the visualization capabilities of modeling tools, we selected 6
common EA management suites (see Table 2). Each tool seeks differentiation by
offering diverse sets of features, thus proposing a different paradigm of EA modeling
and visualization.
5.2.2 Visualization toolkits
We selected six visualization toolkits or frameworks for the evaluation of the require-
ments from a visual perspective (see Table 3). These tools support visualization of
large sets of multivariate data, focusing on graph representations under different layout
algorithms and offering a wide range of capabilities both for processing and displaying
the data. For this reason, most of the tools are used in other fields, such as biology
Journal of Object Technology, vol. 0, 2013
20 ·Naranjo et al.
Tool Version Licence
GraphViz [EGK+04] 2.28 EPL v1.0
Prefuse [HCL05] beta release 2007.10.21 BSD
GraphStream [DGOP07] 1.1 LGPL v3
Gephi [BHJ09] 0.8.1 GPL v3
CIRCOS [KSB+09] 0.64 GPL v3
d3.js [BOH11] 3.3.3 BSD
Table 3 – Selected Visualization toolkits
and social sciences, where large volumes of information are the rule rather than the
Criteria for selection included:
Ability to process the model:
The toolkit should be able to process thousands
of elements and relations.
Expressiveness of the visualizations:
Supported visualization techniques
should provide a clear overview of the model. Thus, toolkits that only offered too
detailed techniques (e.g. bar or pie charts) were discarded, as well as unrelated
(e.g. maps) toolkits.
We selected only Open Source toolkits, preferring the ones that
their licencing allowed to be modified and integrated into modeling tools.
6 Results
As we commented in Section 1, we are not offering a ranking of the different EA
modeling tools in the market. We are conscious that the tools and frameworks
evaluated here serve multiple purposes, and vary greatly in scope and target customer
segments, price, and maturity, among other factors. In this study, we are evaluating
the visual capabilities of these tools that enable Visual Analysis, seen as a vehicle for
understanding the whole model and obtaining additional knowledge from it, as well as
collecting evidence to confirm/deny hypotheses about this model.
6.1 EA Modeling Tools
As neither of the tools offered an unfiltered view of the whole enterprise model,
criteria for evaluation were based in how they envisioned EA visualization under each
requirement. Evaluation range was an integer score from zero to five. For example, a
score of zero implied that their paradigm gave no clues about a requirement, or their
approach did the opposite of the requirement. A score of three was given if there were
signs of an effort to resolve issues that a requirement described, but improvements
were needed, or their vision was not totally clear. A score of five was given if there
was a conscious and successful effort to address a requirement.
6.2 Visualization Toolkits
The other part of this evaluation is the assessment of Visualization toolkits and
frameworks. However, as these are general purpose visualization tools, we relaxed the
Journal of Object Technology, vol. 0, 2013
Evaluating the capabilities of Enterprise Architecture modeling tools for Visual Analysis ·21
Figure 9 – Evaluation results for EA Modeling tools.
Figure 10 – Evaluation results for Visualization tools.
Journal of Object Technology, vol. 0, 2013
22 ·Naranjo et al.
Figure 11 – Summary of the EA (left) and Visualization (right) results.
precision of our measurements to three possible values, based on the implementation
of the visualizations: 5 if it was manageable to fulfill a requirement; 3 if it seemed
achievable (at least partially) to fulfill, often with a certain degree of difficulty; or 1 if
it was very difficult or not possible to represent this requirement (see Fig. 10).
6.3 Outlook
An overview of EA and Visualization tool evaluations is shown in Fig. 11, showing
minimum, average and maximum values for each requirement. We provide a summary
of the findings of the evaluation, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the EA
modeling tools under each requirement. Due to space constraints, we only include the
set of EA Modeling tools in this outlook5.
Maximize Visual Economy
Some of the tools manage several visual languages (e.g. UML, BPMN, ArchiMate)
that are known to have a large number of symbols. Also, these symbols are commonly
large and of squared form, which makes it difficult to handle them visually, and usually
a lot of decoding is necessary.
On the other hand, other tools manage a predefined set of symbols that represent
concepts. These symbols are intuitive and offer a good semantic correspondence in
most of cases. However, this also has its drawbacks. Most of the symbols represent
technical concepts, so the user may need to associate more abstract (or non-technical)
concepts with a symbol.
Enhance Visual Expressiveness
Concerning Visual Expressiveness, the interface and the views of some tools are
aesthetically pleasing. It is also interesting that they make use of visual elements
to offer a view of AS-IS -> TO-BE transitions. However, in some of these tools
there is not a conscious effort to map visual variables to semantic meaning. In most
cases, they only use shape, color and position for this mapping, thus offering
Other tools offer the user ways to customize different visual variables like size,
line width, font, transparency, color and shape, and make use of several tools to
highlight elements. However, the user is responsible of making these adjustments, so
For a more detailed report of this evaluation, please visit
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Evaluating the capabilities of Enterprise Architecture modeling tools for Visual Analysis ·23
the chance is high that these variables have no semantic correspondence. These tools
are manually expressive.
Minimize the Noise
There are some efforts to manage complexity, but they are often truncated by tech-
nological barriers. Some tools offer a selection of layout algorithms that can aid
understanding and reduce clutter, but usually cannot handle diagrams with a consid-
erable (>50) number of elements.
Reports are usually concise, so there is no irrelevant information in them. General
layout is well designed and organized. However, there is no explicit mechanism for
complexity management, as most tools don’t offer different layout algorithms depending
on size of the view.
Some tools generate clean diagrams that offer just the necessary information.
However, edges are difficult to follow and need additional decoding, as a lot of elements
are present.
Navigate and Interact
The tools have various controls for navigating, zooming and selecting elements, and
other generate a model explorer in HTML for easy textual navigation.
Even tough they don’t have specialized interaction controls, they offer
and their canvas is large and navigation is easy and quick. In some tools
there is a general landscape map that organizes building blocks and offers navigability
throughout their metamodel.
Keep the Context
The user is
maintained in context
with diagrams that are visually manageable, as
they are generated in predefined formats on most of the cases. Other diagrams (in
special information flow diagrams) can be too wide, and there is no explicit mechanism
for dealing with model complexity as the number of elements increases.
Derive New Insights
The support for deriving new insights in every tool is based on queries of the model.
They provide a
flexible query language
, directly inspecting the model database
through SQL statements, or by specialized query languages. Filters are easy to
formulate, and include all attributes from the concepts involved, with no information
loss at glance.
Guarantee Semantic Correspondence
In general, there is no legend in diagrams, as they
require specialized knowledge
i.e. the user must be familiar with the the visual language description, and there
are no clues to give semantic meaning in the diagrams. There are mechanisms that
associates visual constructs with semantic meaning, but is separated from all the views.
Generated reports offer some additional information (usually text).
Identify and Relate Domains
Most tools support different viewpoints, and offer a
summarized view of EA layers
of the architecture, in most cases displaying the four classical architectural layers
in addition to a projects domain. They have a navigational view, and seem to be
Journal of Object Technology, vol. 0, 2013
24 ·Naranjo et al.
conscious of relations between layers. However, there is no way to discover which
concepts belong to which layer, or layer/domain interdependency in detail.
They also show the hierarchy of architectural layers by using a color code, usually
with dependencies and borderline elements. Such a view is well structured but static,
and more detail is needed on inter-layer relations.
Emphasize Key Elements
Some tools define a
minimal set of key concepts
in their metamodel, so they all
seem to have the same semantic importance. A side effect is that there is no mechanism
for inspecting key elements of the architecture as the metamodel evolves and the model
gets more complex.
Other tools depend on the emphasis given by the metamodel to certain concepts
predefined viewpoints
. However, these viewpoints are only definitions
of allowed constructs in the view, so there is no mechanism (other than symbol
containment) for giving more importance to key elements.
Offer a Focus of Interest
In general, there is no explicit way to establish a focus of interest. Some context is
present in views- however, they are not flexible and are more useful in modeling than
in analysis activities.
Reports offered by some tools give a fixed focus of interest that brings a context to
analysis. However, there is usually no mechanism for creating new diagram types or
extend existing ones.
Facilitate Structural Diagnosis
In general, it was difficult to provide a clear structural diagnosis from the different
diagrams. Overall patterns are difficult to recognize, given the localized nature of the
diagrams. However, given its dependencies (see Fig. 4), the score of this requirement
is influenced by the visual representation of elements (MVE) and the interaction
capabilities the tools have (NI).
Display Semantic Characteristics
Some tools have a faint notion of Semantic Characteristics by displaying
conformance reports
, i.e. a list of semantic validation errors, or
impact analyses
by exploring the model and deriving relations. Consistency checks offer a way for
validating correctness and completeness of the model. As support for this requirement
is not always an easy task, they have a set of predefined diagnostics that list non-
conformant elements. However, there is no visual display of the results of these
diagnostics, nor a mechanism for their extension.
A small set of tools have mechanisms that enrich existing views by adding se-
mantic elements by relation derivation and navigation through the whole model, e.g.
comparisons, customization of element colors, relation types, and semantic highlighting.
Uncover Architectural Qualities
There is only a faint notion of this requirement in a tool that generates heat maps
that complement analysis tasks. Thus, this requirement offers great opportunities for
further exploration by tool vendors.
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Evaluating the capabilities of Enterprise Architecture modeling tools for Visual Analysis ·25
Metamodel Flexibility and Visual Model
Some of the tools handle several metamodels, making possible to have diagrams under
different visual languages. They are metamodel agnostic in a way, with all the benefits
and drawbacks that this brings. For instance, it provides flexibility in modeling, but
hinders analysis, as there is no unified metamodel.
Other tools can perform minor changes to the metamodel by the concept of profiles,
adding attributes to concepts. With some tools it is possible to add/modify/remove
concepts easily.
7 Discussion
Views and queries are valuable for communicating Enterprise Architectures, as well
as for performing scoped (i.e. detailed) analyses. However, as organizations gain
complexity both in business functions and IT services, models that make an abstraction
of these aspects also get larger and more difficult to analyze. We propose the use of
Overview Visualizations to get valuable insights and ease the burden on EA analysts.
With this in mind, we examine similar approaches, propose a set of requirements
for the Visual Analysis of these models, and examine six EA modeling tools and six
visualization toolkits, evaluating their visual capabilities through the artifacts (i.e.
visualizations, diagrams and reports) they generate.
In general, the reader can reflect on the fact that there is much road ahead in the
domain of EA tooling. Even tough there are tools that give more focus to visualization,
offer more consistent (if not effective) means to analyze, explore and communicate
architectures, and clearly help analysts in the process of extracting new information,
the average suggests that visual analysis, (and in general, visualization) need more
exploration both from EA tool vendors and researchers.
Some of the strong points of the evaluated EA tools, and which we consider are
the starting point for further exploration by tool vendors are:
The ability to derive new insights by the construction of queries.
The Visual Economy offered by some tools, leveraging on the visual system of
the user.
Noise reduction of diagrams by using several layout algorithms.
The ability to visualize inter-domain relationships.
Impact Analysis and model validation capabilities.
Flexibility in the metamodel of some of the tools.
The effort of tools like Iteraplan for offering a good semantic correspondence of
diagrams and reports.
However, we also consider that there are some subjects need to tackled by both
industry and academia:
Simpler visual representations of concepts and relations, as current visual lan-
guages fail to support structural analysis of the whole model.
Journal of Object Technology, vol. 0, 2013
26 ·Naranjo et al.
Mechanisms that allow the composition and automation of analysis methods, in
order to answer more difficult or abstract questions.
New techniques where the analyst can easily detect structurally important
elements of the architecture.
The introduction of interactive operations (e.g. fish-eye views, semantic zoom,
3D navigation) for the exploration of these models.
These points can be tackled with the evaluated visualization tools, as they offer as
a whole an almost complete set of features for supporting visual analysis of enterprise
models. However, all of these capabilities are not yet found in just one toolkit. Thus,
an hypothetical EA Visual Analysis tool should incorporate the different approaches
of these tools, that is, to serve as a common platform that uses several visualization
Last, but not least, we can say that nowadays there is an effort to tackle some of
these problems. Tendencies such as Model-driven visualization[
] are key in this
context. For instance, an interesting research direction is the design of a visualization
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About the authors
David Naranjo
holds a MSc degree in Systems and Computing
Engineering, and currently is a Research Assistant at the Universi-
dad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.
Contact him at
Mario Sánchez
is currently an Assistant Professor at the Univer-
sidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. After finishing his PhD
on Executable Models and MDE for Business Process Modeling,
he has focused on Enterprise Modeling and Analysis, and, more
generally, on advancing tool support for enterprise architecture.
Visit him at
Jorge Villalobos
is currently an Associate Professor at the Uni-
versidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. He leads the research
group in Enterprise Architecture and Modeling.
Journal of Object Technology, vol. 0, 2013
... Regarding the issue of high effort in using tools, Naranjo et al. [50] conducted a study on enterprise architecture modeling tools and how they support visual analysis and understanding of the created models. Pourali and Atlee [51] conducted an empirical study that identified the barriers to adopting modeling tools. ...
Full-text available
The Object Management Group introduced the Model-Driven Architecture in 2001. Since then, the research community has embraced model-driven engineering (MDE), but to a lesser extent than practitioners had hoped. A good awareness of practitioners’ challenges, particularly with modeling, is required to ensure the relevance of a research agenda. Therefore, this study conducts a meta-review on the state of practice in using modeling languages for software engineering over the last five years using Kitchenham’s guidelines. This study serves as an orientation within the research field and a basis for further research. It contributes to the literature by focusing on publications discussing the practical use of modeling languages and the benefits and problems perceived by practitioners. The main finding of this review is that practitioners benefit from MDE in the following ways: it is beneficial for several stakeholders; it saves cost; it is easy to use; it improves productivity, quality, and understanding of the system; and it provides support for software development activities. However, practitioners continue to face several serious challenges. The most frequently reported issues are the missing tool functionalities. Many studies have found that adhering to the Physics of Notation principles would improve modeling languages. Other findings include that modeling is mostly used for documentation and requirements elicitation, and UML is the most often used.
... In the further development of the Archi-Made modeling language, the Element, Relationship, and Relationship Connector were defined as the specialization of Concept. Structuring information into clusters and patterns has a significant cognitive impact (Naranjo et al., 2015). For this reason, each zoom makes sure that elements of the same type are displayed first and then cross-layer. ...
... GDPR is drawing increasing attention [22], and according to our previous research [23], it might be a very typical scenario where EA and EAM tools can play an important role. Industry/commercial tools are often less observed by academia, although their importance has been recognized [24][25][26]. We did not find scientific studies where such a case is reported. ...
Alignment is one of the most important benefits that Enterprise Architecture (EA) could bring to organizations. However, it is still unclear what mechanism EA uses to help organizations achieve alignment. Related research is very scattered, making it difficult to accumulate relevant knowledge and experiences, and thus, the more successful EA application is hindered. To address this issue, the present research examines essential requirements of alignment and mechanisms with which underlying EA deliverable models impact organizations. By doing so, we proposed a conceptual framework explaining how EA modeling activities contribute to organizational alignment. We demonstrated the use of this framework with three use cases. The results show that EA could help organizations achieve alignment in quite different ways, and our proposed framework helped us examine and understand the mechanisms. We expect this research could establish an essential common understanding of how EA enables organizational alignment, thereby facilitating academia to move forward in this field.
Due to the inherent complexity of Enterprise Models, it is common to employ multiple views for model exploration. Currently, this exploration remains a daunting task in collaborative modeling sessions, due to ineffective mechanisms for organizing views and presenting the relevant ones to each stakeholder. To address these issues, we propose an approach that reconstructs view-related information from the structure of the Enterprise Model and tool metadata. Then, we perform a viewpoint analysis, in order to identify the most appropriate view for each participant of the modeling session.
Full-text available
These research notes are motivated by a desire to understand previous work that can contribute to an analytical approach to defining and optimising quality in enterprise reference models. Most of these notes cover a literature review done using publicly available materials only and these notes are being made available for open review and contribution.
Full-text available
These research notes are motivated by a desire to understand previous work that can contribute to an analytical approach to defining and optimising quality in enterprise reference models. Most of these notes cover a literature review done using publicly available materials only and these notes are being made available for open review and contribution.
Full-text available
Despite growing interest in enterprise architecture (EA) around the world in recent years, a lack of common understanding is frequently described by EA researchers/practitioners. We conducted a systematic mapping study and it revealed that the extent to which the authors/researchers are focused on EA, the sectors in which they are working, the academic disciplines in which they have studied, the countries where their affiliated organizations are located, the subject areas of the journals/publishers of their publications and the way they have approached EA and its practitioners are some major elements that might influence the existing uniformity in EA. In addition, this study demonstrates how important it is to pay attention to the definition of ‘enterprise architecture’ itself. The contribution of this study is the organization of the EA literature according to three major questions concerning ‘who’ have been published in the literature, ‘where’ they have been located and ‘what’ their publications are about. This helps to better identify sources of variety which could be on the basis of the lack of common understanding in EA and provides practitioners and stakeholders a better understanding of this challenge. This also provides relevant directions for future studies.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The discourse of Enterprise Architecture is based on modeling and performing ‘holistic’ (multi-layer) analyses. However, view centered methodologies offer a partial glimpse of the overall architecture, and current tools do not bring an explicit method of navigating the underlying model. Considering that we need a starting point for analysis and explore the whole model in order to drill down on more specific analysis techniques, we compare overview visualizations depending on topological properties of the model and a set of domain-specific requirements. Four techniques are examined, and they visualize five Analytical Scenarios that represent typical questions that could arise on a EA diagnostic.
Full-text available
This article introduces descriptive separation spaces useful in the discovery of what are known as motif patterns. The proposed approach presents the separation axioms in terms of descriptive proximities. Asymmetries arise naturally in the form of the separation of neighbourhoods of descriptively distinct points in what are known as Leader uniformtopological spaces. A practical application of the proposed approach is given in terms of visual motif patterns, identification of nearness structures and pattern stability analysis in digital images.
A taxonomy of tools that support the fluent and flexible use of visualizations.
Large process models may comprise hundreds or thousands of process elements, like activities, gateways, and data objects. Presenting such process models to users and enabling them to interact with these models constitute crucial tasks of any process-aware information systems (PAISs). Existing PAISs, however, neither provide adequate techniques for visualizing and abstracting process models nor for interacting with them. In particular, PAISs do not provide tailored process visualizations as needed in complex application environments. This paper presents examples of large process models and discusses some of the challenges to be tackled when visualizing and abstracting respective models. Further, it presents a comprehensive framework that allows for personalized process model visualizations, which can be tailored to the specific needs of the different user groups. First, process model complexity can be reduced by abstracting the models, i.e., by eliminating or aggregating process elements not relevant in the given visualization context. Second, the appearance of process elements can be customized independent of the process modeling language used. Third, different visualization formats (e.g., process diagrams, process forms, and process trees) are supported. Finally, it will be discussed how tailored visualizations of process models may serve as basis for changing and evolving process models at a high level of abstraction.
Conference Paper
A continuously increasing amount of data makes it difficult for knowledge-workers to identify the information they need to perform their tasks in the best possible way. Particularly challenging in this context is the alignment of process-related information (e.g., working instructions, best practices) with business processes. In fact, process-related information (process information for short) and business processes are usually handled separately. On one hand, shared drives, databases, and information systems are used to manage process information, on the other, process management technology provides the basis for managing business processes. In practice, enterprises often establish (Intranet) portals to connect both perspectives. However, such portals are not sufficient. Reasons are that process information is usually delivered without considering the current work context and business processes are presented to process participants in a rather static manner. Therefore, enterprises crave for new ways of making process information available. This paper picks up this challenge and presents the niPRO framework. niPRO is based on semantic technology and enables the intelligent delivery and user-adequate visualization of comprehensive process information.
The increasing scale and availability of digital data provides an extraordinary resource for informing public policy, scientific discovery, business strategy, and personal lives. To enable analysts to explore large datasets involving varied data types, flexible visual analysis tools must provide appropriate controls for specifying the data and views of interest. Classic scientific visualization systems use data-flow graphs, in which the visualization process is deconstructed into a set of finer-grained operators for data import, transformation, layout, or coloring. When analyzing data with visualizations, users regularly traverse the space of views in an iterative fashion. Interactive visualizations often serve not only as data-exploration tools, but also as a means for recording, organizing, and communicating insights gained during exploration. Data-aware annotations allow a pointing intention to be reapplied to different views of the same data, enabling reuse of references across different choices of visual encodings.
Complex software systems are often modeled using data flow diagrams, in which nodes are connected to each other through dedicated connection points called ports. The influence a layout algorithm has on the placement of ports is determined by port constraints defined on the corresponding node. In this paper we present approaches for integrating port constraints into the layer-based approach to graph drawing pioneered by Sugiyama et al. We show how our layout algorithm, called KLay Layered, progresses from relaxed to more restricted port constraint levels as it executes, and how established algorithms for crossing minimization and edge routing can be extended to support port constraints. Compared to the previous layout algorithms supporting ports, our algorithm produces fewer edge crossings and bends and yields pleasing results. We also explain and evaluate how layout algorithms can be kept simple by using the concept of intermediate processors to structure them in a modular way. A case study integrating our layout algorithm into UC Berkeley's Ptolemy tool illustrates how KLay Layered can be integrated into Java-based applications.