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Enterprise Architect (Sparx Systems) opinions?

Hey all,

Recently at a conference I ran into a representative of Sparx Systems at a booth in the exhibit area. They have a UML modelling tool which I thought was cool but when I asked the price I was a little surprised; I was told it could be had for $200 in a space where it seems like most UML tools are in the "don't even think about it if you develop alone" category. But even beyond UML diagrams, code generating (longer list of languages) and other features, it also generates XSD, a key feature that I don't have in Visio for Enterprise Architects.

Has anyone used their software?  Comments and/or review?
David Seruyange Send private email
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Excellent piece of software.  Worth the price.  Better than Visio.  The reverse-engineering stuff alone is worth it.
Sassy Send private email
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Compare it with evaluation versions of Sybase PowerDesigner and Embarcadero Describe and that will convince you that the features match if not the price..

Sunday, July 16, 2006
International Developer Magazine sometimes publishes a “most popular purchases” from Grey Matter (UK based software supplier) I’ve seen EA appear highly a few times.

I work with a couple of guys who are currently using it to reverse engineer a lump of Delphi code and so far the results look good.
IanH. Send private email
Sunday, July 16, 2006
It works *very* well with round-tripping C#: I evaluated several (including Borland's Together, but excluding ones that cost more than $1000/seat) and I recommend it. Their customer service is great too.

I don't know how well it works with round-tripping other languages (eg. C++).

> it also generates XSD

I hven't tried that aspect of it.

I think you can get an eval version from their web site: so, see for yourself.
Christopher Wells Send private email
Sunday, July 16, 2006
A beautiful piece of software. It's also about the only such tool with great support (backward engineering and code generation) for PHP5.
Berislav Lopac Send private email
Monday, July 17, 2006
Rough around the edges, particularly when it comes to user interface and documentation, but extremely powerful -- and you can't beat the price. There's simply no equivalent alternative in this price range.
Chris Nahr Send private email
Monday, July 17, 2006
The only problem we've had is with the multiple users - one design repository scenario. Sharing the file works, but is prone to problems, using a database exposes you to problems with getting everyone connected to your db. The db issue isn't really EA's fault, but it may as well be when you're trying to get others to use the software to collaborate.

 Other than that, I like it a lot. Superb value.
Monday, July 17, 2006
We use it pretty extensively where I work.  It works quite well although as others have said their are some rough edges in terms of UI.  Also, the version we use seems to use an access db as the underlying storage repository and we've seen occassional data corruption issues.

Monday, July 17, 2006
Terrific value for the money.

However, the UI does occasionally have some "quirks", and it's best suited for very small teams (<5 people).

Another good UML tool in this price range is MagicDraw.

For larger teams, you'd probably want to look at Rational XDE or equivalent, that have good support for concurrent development and merging of models.
Example Send private email
Monday, July 17, 2006
If Im'm not mistaken, the Sparx EA also has the features for sharing models in larger teams:
Berislav Lopac Send private email
Monday, July 17, 2006
I have been using this product for two years.  It is a full lifecycle MDA tool and supports the CIM,PIM and PSM types of models.  You can use as much or as little of the tool as you wish and it doesn't penalize you for not doing so as Ration Rose does.

Probably the coolest feature in the last version is code tracing and building models (currently only sequence diagrams) from "running" code in EA itself.  However the tool has limited support for project management, estimation, resource tracking, sophisticated model element search, automatic document generation from repository elements, etc.

Not only can it generate code from your UML 2.0 models (which is called a transform in MDA speak) but it can generate ANY kind of code using it's generic transform language.  This is arguably the most powerful feature of the tool.

In addition, it has a very open API and it is a good candidate to use as a foundation for building a best of breed full lifecycle development system on top of.  For instance it would not be too difficult to intergrate FogBugZ into the tool as a plug-in.

This is THE foundation that I have determined is the optimal one to use (free trial edition, secure models ,low price point, open architecture, targeting full MDA capability), that will be the foundation of the system I am trying to identify or hobble together that can capture the multiple dimensions of Software Development regardless of the language you program in.

One company I worked at looked at VSTS as a foundation but we ultimately determined that this system gave us good integration with bad tools (i.e. not using Fog Bugz or Jira unless they buy into the VSTS exension model).

This might be okay if the price point was fairly low but at 10K a pop to enable even a small group of 5 people would cost $50k and we wanted to do Agle Development!  So after paying out $50K we would just put something like Ken Shwaber's SCRUM on top of it via Conchango.  It was totally unacceptable.

For more info on this subject go to my blog -; there are some good resources there on the philosophy of MDA and how you get from regarding UML as pictures to UML as code specification that builds code.  EA is my foundation now and in the future for doing that.  I love the philosophy of the company.
Jason Rutberg Send private email
Wednesday, July 19, 2006

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