Best practices for IBM InfoSphere Blueprint Director, Part 3: Sharing Information Architectures through InfoSphere Blueprint Director

Lifecycle Management of Blueprints

This article provides best practices on publishing information architecture blueprints using IBM® InfoSphere® Blueprint Director. Publishing architecture blueprints enables sharing of the most current solution architecture with all team members allowing everyone to experience the same project vision.

Martin Oberhofer (martino@de.ibm.com), Senior IT Architect for Enterprise Information Architecture and Master Inventor, IBM

Martin Oberhofer 的照片Martin Oberhofer works as Senior IT Architect in the area of Enterprise Information Architecture with large clients world-wide. He helps customers to define their Enterprise Information Strategy and Architecture solving information-intense business problems. His areas of expertise include master data management based on an SOA, data warehousing, information integration and database technologies. He especially likes to work with enterprises running SAP applications. Martin delivers Enterprise Information Architecture and Solution workshops to large customers and major system integrators and provides, in a lab advocate role, expert advice for Information Management to large IBM clients. He started his career at IBM in the IBM Silicon Valley Labs in the United States at the beginning of 2002 as a software engineer and is currently based in the IBM Research and Development Lab in Germany. He co-authored the books Enterprise Master Data Management: An SOA Approach to Managing Core Information and The Art of Enterprise Information Architecture: A Systems-Based Approach for Unlocking Business Insight, as well as numerous research articles and developerWorks articles. As an inventor, he contributed to over 50 patent applications for IBM. Martin is also an The Open Group Master Certified IT Architect and holds a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Constance in Germany.


developerWorks Contributing author
        level

Harald Smith (smithha@us.ibm.com), Software Architect, IBM

Harald SmithWith nearly 30 years in IT and software development, Harald has focused on the design and delivery of information integration and information quality solutions and products over the past 14 years including methods and best practices. Harald is the co-author of Patterns of Information Management by IBM Press, has written and co-authored a series of developerWorks articles, has been issued 4 patents, and is an IBM Certified practitioner for the IBM InfoSphere Information Analyzer and QualityStage products.



06 June 2013

Introduction

IBM InfoSphere Blueprint Director is a member of the IBM InfoSphere Foundation Tools portfolio. Blueprint Director is aimed at the Information Architect designing solution architectures for information-intensive projects. A thorough introduction to Blueprint Director has been provided in an introductory tutorial here: Planning an Integration Landscape. Based on understanding the functionality of Blueprint Director we provided a best practices articles working with Blueprint Director located here: Best practices for IBM InfoSphere Blueprint Director, Part 1: Working within a project lifecycle and here Best practices for IBM InfoSphere Blueprint Director, Part 2: Designing information blueprints from the ground up. We assume for the purpose of this article that the reader is familiar with the content of the introductory tutorial and has hands-on experience with Blueprint Director. For working with the material presented in this article you need to have InfoSphere Blueprint Director v9.1 or newer installed (can be installed as part of InfoSphere Information Server v9.1). In InfoSphere Blueprint Director v9.1 a new feature has been added which allows blueprints to be published as Web content once the architecture design is completed. This article discusses the following three topics:

  • Quickly create a blueprint based on a template
  • A how-to for publishing blueprints
  • Versioning of published blueprints

Blueprint creation

For the purpose of this article, we have focused only on the publication features. Therefore, you will have to create an example architecture blueprint. Since the articles mentioned in the introduction would cover the full depth of this feature, you will just need to create a screen-shot based simple example sufficient for your purpose based on a shipped template. You can use the master data management (MDM) template shipped with Blueprint Director.

To create an instance of an architecture blueprint in the context of this tutorial, you will have to perform the following steps:

  1. Start Blueprint Director
  2. Click File > New > Project, as shown in Figure 1.
    Figure 1. Starting project creation
    This figure shows how to create a new project by clicking File, then New, Project
  3. Click General > Project, and then click Next, as shown in Figure 2.
    Figure 2. Select General Project
    This screen shows how to create a General Project
  4. Type Demo for a project name, as shown in Figure 3, and then click Next.
    Figure 3. Enter a project name
    This figure shows how to enter DEMO for a project name
  5. Click File > New > Blueprint as shown in Figure 4.
    Figure 4. Start architecture blueprint creation
    THis figure shows the screen for starting a architecture blueprint creation
  6. Type MDM.bpt for a blueprint name, select the blueprint template Delivering Trusted Master Data, and then click Finish, as shown in Figure 5.
    Figure 5. Starting project creation
    This figure shows where to enter MDM.bpt for a blueprint name and then selecting the Delivering Trusted Master Data template.
  7. Figure 6 shows you the root diagram of the MDM architecture blueprint based on the template.
    Figure 6. MDM Blueprint – start screen
    This figure shows the root diagrame for the MDM Blueprint

    (View a larger version of Figure 6.)

With an example blueprint now available, you can now look at how to publish the blueprint.


Publishing an architecture blueprint

The Information Architect creates or modifies an architecture blueprint using Blueprint Director. Once done, the Information Architect publishes the architecture blueprint to Information Server. You can review the architecture blueprint either through Business Glossary or Metadata Workbench. Both options will be described later in this article.

Figure 7 shows the process of publishing architecture blueprints.

Figure 7. User roles involved in managing and working with blueprints
THis figure shows the user roles involved in managing and working with Blueprints

In the previous section, you had completed the creation of an architecture blueprint based on a template. Now, let's look at what needs to be done to publish this architecture blueprint as Web content so that other project team members can see it as well.

Blueprint Director uses the WebSphere Application Server component of InfoSphere Information Server for publishing architecture blueprints so that they can be reviewed by all other project members. Not surprisingly, you need to have a connection to an InfoSphere Information Server configured in Blueprint Director for publishing blueprints. Follow these steps to quickly create an InfoSphere Information Server connection in Blueprint Director. You will need to substitute the appropriate values for the Host, Port, User, and Password for your environment:

  1. Click Blueprint > Manage Server Connections, as shown in Figure 8.
    Figure 8. Creating a connection to InfoSphere Information Server
    This figure shows how to create a connection to InfoSphere Information Server by clicking Blueprint, Manage Server connections.
  2. Click Add to start creating a new server connection, as shown in Figure 9.
    Figure 9. Select Add to create a new connection
    This figure shows you clicking Add to create a new server connection
  3. Type Demo for a name, select InfoSphere Information Server as the connection type, and then click Next, as shown in Figure 10.
    Figure 10. Enter a connection name and select connection type
    This figure shows typing the name Demo and selecting InfoSphere Information Server as a connection type.
  4. Enter the connection details including: Host, Port, User, and Password for InfoSphere Information Server, as shown in Figure 11. Then click Validate connection.
    Figure 11. Enter connection details
    This figure shows what to enter for connection details, including hostname, port, user, password.
  5. If the test is successful, the Connection is valid message should show at the top of the screen, as shown in Figure 12. Click Finish if the connection test is successful – otherwise adjust the values of your configuration parameters.
    Figure 12. Successful connection test
    This figure shows a successful connection test.

Now with a connection to InfoSphere Information Server available, let’s publish the blueprint by performing the following steps:

  1. Click File > Publish Blueprint, as shown in Figure 13
    Figure 13. Start publishing a blueprint
    This figure shows clicking the File menu and then clicking Publish Blueprint to start publishing a blueprint
  2. In the Publish Blueprint window, you can enter the name you want to use to publish the blueprint, a version indication, and a description. In the example shown in Figure 14, you can use the name as MDMv1, Version 1.0 for version, and one sentence to describe the purpose of the architecture blueprint. Then click Publish.
    Figure 14. Enter publication name of blueprint
    This figure shows how to enter a publication name for the blueprint, including MDM_v1 and Version 1.
  3. Depending on the size of the architecture blueprint, you might see a pop-up indicating the progress of the publishing process, as shown in Figure 15.
    Figure 15. Publication in process
    This figure shows a popup that indicates the Publication in process
  4. Once the publication process is completed, you will see a window like the one shown in Figure 16. Click on the word here in the window, which is a link that opens your default browser leading you the Web blueprint viewer. Then click OK.
    Figure 16. Publication completed
    This figure shows that the Publication completed, and to click 'here' to view the published blueprint.
  5. Now switch to your default browser where you will see the InfoSphere Blueprint Director Viewer login screen, as shown in Figure 17. Enter your login credentials and click Login.
    Figure 17. MDM Blueprint – start screen
    This figure shows the MDM Blueprint – start screen where you enter your user name and password to login.
  6. Once you completed the login, you should see the MDM architecture blueprint in its Web version, as shown in Figure 18.
    Figure 18. MDM Blueprint – top-level view
    This figure shows the top view of the MDM Blueprint in the web version.

    (View a larger version of Figure 18.)

    Note that the (+) sign in Blueprint Director has been replaced by the icon highlighted in the circle, for example for the Initial Load element in the blueprint. Clicking on the icons allows you to navigate to the sub-diagram – which is the same functionally provided in Blueprint Director with the (+) sign. On the right hand side in the Blueprint Director Viewer, you can see the name of the published blueprint and its description.

  7. Now click on the icon next to Initial Load – you should be able to see the Initial Load diagram, as shown in Figure 19.
    Figure 19. MDM Blueprint – a sub-diagram view
    This figure shows the sub diagram view of the MDM Blueprint

    (View a larger version of Figure 19.)

    Note that at the top (see underline) you have the ability to see where you are in the blueprint, and by clicking on the appropriate level – you can seamlessly navigate back to a higher-level diagram.


Viewing published architecture blueprints

Once a blueprint has been published, it is stored as an asset in the metadata repository of the IBM InfoSphere Information Server. As such, it is visible and viewable not only from the blueprint publication process, but through specific Information Server components, namely Business Glossary and Metadata Workbench, which allow for broad access and sharing of the content.

Viewing through Business Glossary

To view a blueprint through the Business Glossary, you must have the Business Glossary user role.

  1. You may start Business Glossary through the Information Server Launch Pad: http://<your-server-name>:9080/ibm/iis/launchpad, replacing <your-server-name> with the appropriate host server connection for your environment.

    Click on the Business Glossary icon as seen in Figure 20. Alternately, you may launch Business Glossary directly through the Business Glossary URL: http://<your-server-name>:9080/bg/.

    Figure 20. Information Server Launchpad
    This figure shows the Information Server Launchpad with Business Glossary and Meta Workbench highlighted.
  2. Once Business Glossary is launched, you will need to enter your login credentials. The Business Glossary browser will open.
  3. From the Business Glossary, select the Browse menu. You will find the blueprints listed under the Glossary and Governance category, as seen in Figure 21. Click the Blueprints icon or item to see the list or catalog of published blueprints.
    Figure 21. Blueprint category under the Browse menu
    This figure shows the Blueprint category under the Browse menu
  4. As shown in Figure 22, there are four blueprints shown in the listing, including the MDMv1.1 blueprint published previously.
    Figure 22. Blueprints listed under Browse menu
    This figure shows the Blueprints listed under the Browse menu
  5. Select the blueprint of interest by moving your cursor to the MDMv1.1 blueprint and clicking on it. This will open the summary of the blueprint, as seen in Figure 23.
    Figure 23. Summary of the blueprint
    Summary of the Blueprint

    The summary view includes the top-level image from your blueprint as well as the name, description, and version you included when publishing the blueprint. It also shows general information about the creator of the blueprint, when it was created, and when it was last modified.

  6. To add additional information to the blueprint, click the Edit button. This will open an editable view for specific annotations, as shown in Figure 24.
    Figure 24. Editable view of the blueprint
    This figure shows the Editable view of the Blueprint for specific annotations.

The blueprint may be annotated to include Labels, a Steward, to connect to Terms, or to link to a governance rule. These may be particularly useful to include in order to facilitate broader sharing and understanding of the information landscape.

As shown in Figure 24, a Label called Project Smarter Business is highlighted. By selecting this, one or more items can be added to the blueprint. When finished adding these annotations, click Save. These annotations will subsequently appear in the view of the blueprint.

Viewing through Metadata Workbench

To view a blueprint through the Metadata Workbench, you must have the Metadata Workbench user role.

  1. As with Business Glossary, you may start Metadata Workbench through the Information Server Launch Pad: http://<your-server-name>:9080/ibm/iis/launchpad In this case, click the Metadata Workbench icon as shown previously in Figure 21. Alternately, you may launch Metadata Workbench directly through the Metadata Workbench URL: http://<your-server-name>:9080 /workbench/.
  2. Once Metadata Workbench is launched, you will need to enter your login credentials to open the Metadata Workbench browser.
  3. Now you can browse for blueprints. From the Metadata Workbench, click the Find tab, then click on the drop-down arrow under Asset Type. You will find the blueprints listed as one of the selectable asset types as seen in Figure 25.
    Figure 25. Blueprint asset type under the Find tab
    This figure shows the Blueprint asset type located under the Find tab.

    (View a larger version of Figure 25.)

  4. Select the blueprint asset type and then click the Find button to see the list or catalog of published blueprints. In Figure 26, there are four blueprints shown in the listing, including the MDMv1.1 blueprint published previously.
    Figure 26. Blueprints listed from the Find selection
    This figure shows the Blueprints listed from the Find selection

    (View a larger version of Figure 26.)

  5. Select the blueprint of interest by clicking the MDMv1.1 blueprint. This will open the summary of the blueprint, as shown in Figure 27.
    Figure 27. Summary of the blueprint
    This figure shows the summary of the Blueprint
  6. There are several items to note in this view:
    1. The summary view includes the top-level image from your blueprint as well as the Name, Description, and Version you included when publishing the blueprint.
    2. The Modification Details will note the user who originally published the blueprint, its creation date, and its last update date. Note: The modification details do not describe changes made to the blueprint. To note subsequent changes, include such information in the Blueprint Description field prior to publishing.
    3. The blueprint may be annotated to include a Steward, to connect to Terms, or to be associated to a Label. These may be particularly useful to include in order to facilitate broader sharing and understanding of the information landscape. Use the tasks in the Task list in the upper right to add these.
    4. From the Task list, you can launch a full web-based view of the blueprint, as shown previously in Figure 18 and Figure 19.
  7. Now you can edit and annotate the blueprint. As shown in Figure 27, click the Assign to Label task. An assignment dialog box appears. As shown in Figure 28, perform the following tasks.
    Figure 28. Assignment of a Label to the blueprint
    This figure shows editing and annotating the blueprint, and the assignment of a Label to the Blueprint
    • Click the Find button to bring up the full list of available Labels, or enter the character(s) of interest in the Find box and a Where reference (such as Contains), and then click the Find button to get a specific selection.
    • When the results are displayed, select one or more items, then click the Select button. A dialog box will indicate that the assignment has completed and you may click OK.
  8. As seen in Figure 29, the blueprint is now assigned a label.
    Figure 29. A blueprint with a label
    This figure shows that the blueprint is assigned a label

    Once a Label is assigned to a blueprint, that blueprint may be subsequently found by other users browsing by the Label rather than the blueprint, or by Steward, and so on.

    Note: The ability to make specific assignments of labels, stewards, terms, and so on, may depend on your role in either Business Glossary or Metadata Workbench.


Versioning and downloading of published architecture blueprints

There is a direct one-to-one relationship between a blueprint and its published copy. This relationship helps to ensure that repeated publications of a blueprint do not generate extraneous copies, and the relationship holds true even if the original blueprint in Blueprint Director is renamed. When you publish a blueprint again, it will overlay the prior published version.

On the other hand, a copy or a download of a given blueprint creates a new distinct blueprint, and if it is subsequently published, it will create a new distinct published blueprint. As a consequence, there are some specific best practices to take into account when updating, versioning, and downloading blueprints.

  1. Add a version number into the Version property box, as shown in Figure 30.
    Figure 30. Version number and comments in the Blueprint Description property
    This figure shows the version number and comments in the Blueprint Description property
  2. Incorporate comments about changes into the Blueprint Description property box prior to publication, as shown in Figure 31, for a blueprint called newBlue.
    Figure 31. Version number and comments in a published blueprint
    This figure shows the Version number and comments in a published blueprint

    Note that you can access the Diagram property box by selecting the diagram in the Blueprint Navigator, or clicking on an open whitespace area of the top-level of the blueprint. Alternately, when you publish the blueprint, there is an opportunity to enter descriptive information which will update the Description property box.

  3. Once published, the updated version number and description are visible to all viewing the published blueprint, as shown previously in Figure 31, where the version has been updated an additional time to incorporate further changes.
  4. If you need multiple individuals working together on a blueprint, store the blueprint in a single, shared location from where it will be published. The login during the publication process will identify the individual who has uploaded the latest version.

Generally, use downloads of a published blueprint for the following use cases:

  1. Starting a new initiative where you want to work from the original base but will need to branch into a new direction. When first working with the downloaded copy, clearly distinguish this new version by establishing a distinct diagram name for clarity in subsequent management, as shown in Figure 32.
    Figure 32. Distinctly named published blueprints
    Distinctly named published blueprints
    The blueprint description can also be used to annotate the purpose of this new blueprint.
  2. Working with a local copy (a sandbox) for exploration, method review, or training. As shown previously, creating a new distinct diagram name will be helpful for clarity. Only publish this copy if moving it into the mainstream of work (and then follow point 1 above)
  3. All blueprint viewing methods (the Blueprint Viewer, Business Glossary, and Metadata Workbench) support downloads of the blueprints. Figure 33 shows the Download Blueprint task for Metadata Workbench.
    Figure 33. Download Blueprint from Metadata Workbench
    This figure shows the Download Blueprint task for Metadata Workbench
  4. After selecting to download a blueprint, you will be prompted to save as a file to a location in your available directories (local or network).

Componentizing blueprints for reuse and synchronization

In prior articles on Blueprint Director best practices, you can find discussion on how to organize blueprints to keep diagrams simple, and subsequently drill into greater detail. Because blueprints are stored in the metadata repository of Information Server when they are published, they also become assets that you can link to. This adds an additional option or capability for componentizing blueprints for reuse and synchronization, particularly where you may have multiple individuals contributing to a blueprint.

Blueprints as Assets

When a blueprint is published it acquires a URL. You can see the URL when you fully open a blueprint in the Blueprint Viewer, as shown in Figure 34.

Figure 34. URL for a published blueprint
This figure shows the URL for a published blueprint when you open it.

Because a published blueprint has a URL, you can use the Asset Link for an element on a blueprint diagram to connect to another blueprint. Instead of needing to build out a sub-diagram for that element, the other blueprint contains the detail and you can see that content simply by clicking on the asset link.

Example of linked blueprints

In the following example, two individuals are working on distinct blueprints: one a data warehouse blueprint shown in Figure 35 and one MDM blueprint. The data warehouse blueprint contains an element on the diagram for an MDM repository.

Figure 35. A top-level view of a data warehouse blueprint in Blueprint Director
This figure shows a top-level view of a data warehouse blueprint in Blueprint Director

At this point, instead of creating a sub-diagram for the MDM repository, there is another published blueprint for the MDM information landscape available. You can browse through either Business Glossary or Metadata Workbench to find the specific published blueprint and open it in the Blueprint Director Viewer, as shown in Figure 36.

Figure 36. A top-level view of an MDM blueprint in the Blueprint Viewer
This figure shows a top-level view of an MDM blueprint in the Blueprint Viewer

(View a larger version of Figure 36.)

  1. In the data warehouse blueprint, select the MDM element, right-click Add Asset Link, as shown in Figure 37.
    Figure 37. Add an Asset Link
    This figure shows selecting the MDM element and adding an Asset Link
  2. Create a name for the Asset Link.
  3. Select Web Link (URL) as the Asset Link Type, as shown in Figure 38, then click Next.
    Figure 38. Select URL asset link type
    This figure shows selecting Web Link (URL) as URL asset link type
  4. Copy and paste the URL from the desired published blueprint, the MDM blueprint in this case, into the link reference, as shown in Figure 39. Use the relevant URL from your environment.
    Figure 39. Enter the URL
    This figure shows the copy and paste of the URL into the link reference.
  5. Click Finish.
  6. The asset link is now visible with the blueprint element, as shown in Figure 40. Clicking on it will launch the Blueprint Viewer for the referenced blueprint.
    Figure 40. An asset link from one blueprint to another
    Figure 40: An asset link from one blueprint to another

Following this approach, you can continuously work with other architects in building out componentized and reusable blueprints referenced by other blueprints. These asset links are part of the published blueprints, so as you publish a new blueprint containing these other blueprint references, you can continue to walk through the broader information landscape, even where your specific blueprint only captures a piece of the overall view.


Conclusion

IBM InfoSphere Blueprint Director provides the capability for you to communicate a vision of your information landscape to your organization and broader team. In this article, you have done the following:

  • Reviewed best practices in publishing your architecture blueprint to other project team members.
  • Understood the need and benefits to create and manage blueprints visualizing and sharing the project vision with project team members.
  • Seen how you can keep track of changes through the use of blueprint version and description fields.
  • Learned that you can incorporate references to other blueprints to enhance reuse of blueprints across your information landscape.

By following these practices, you can focus more closely on the critical aspect of communication to drive your projects forward. Clarity in presentation, consistent understanding, and an ability to view all aspects of the information landscape for your project at varying levels all facilitate this process.

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