Using the new features of UML Modeler in IBM Rational Software Architect Version 7.5


Improved UML modeling

The new functionality of the UML Modeler component is common to both the new IBM® Rational® Software Architect Standard Edition Version 7.5 and the new IBM® Rational® Software Architect for WebSphere Software Version 7.5. Throughout this article we will refer to both of these products as IBM® Rational® Software Architect Version 7.5 or as Rational Software Architect V7.5, for short.

This article highlights some of the new functionality of the UML Modeler component in Rational Software Architect Version 7.5, and explains how to leverage several recently added features.

There have been a lot of usability enhancements made to the UML Modeler component in Rational Software Architect V7.5. First, model management capabilities have been significantly enhanced, making it easier for you to work with larger models shared among a large number of users. In addition, for those who assume that modeling is difficult or hard to grasp, steps have been taken to reduce initial obstacles. Much effort has been placed in simplifying potentially complex areas, allowing you to achieve results faster.

Another point of emphasis is model integrity: that is, reducing the likelihood of ending up with a broken model. In fact, in Rational Software Architect, you have been given the ability to understand and fix potential problems in your models. The end result is that you will be able to get your work done more rapidly, and end up with more correct models. To that end, changes have been made to allow your models to achieve a higher level of compliance with the UML specification.

The New Model wizard

Users upgrading from earlier versions of Rational Software Architect will immediately notice a difference when using the New Model wizard:

  • There are now two wizards for creating models, the Model wizard and the UML Model wizard.
  • The set of model templates has been updated.
  • Wizard pages have been added to allow you to customize new features (such as having a Package as a root element, UI capabilities, and working sets).
  • The extensibility mechanism has been improved, which will make it evident why two wizards are present.

Package as a root

If you are creating a new model from the template, allowing a UML Package to be the root element of a resource is one of the most visible changes exposed by the New Model wizard. Instead of templates referring to models, you will see templates referring to packages.

To clarify the terminology: a Model is really a Package with two more properties, one of which is the viewpoint String. (The other property is whether it is a metamodel.)

This change is rather subtle, but it has some important implications. Historically, in all of the previous releases of the product, the Model UML element was always at the root of the .emx file resource. There is nothing in the UML specification that prescribes what has to be at the root of the resource: indeed, there is no concept of the resource in the UML specification.

Seeing that a Model is really just a specialization of a Package, in Rational Software Architect V7.5, there is now the option to have the Package as the root element of the resource. This explains why instead of seeing "Blank Model," you see "Blank Package."

A problem that you might encounter is with file compatibility, because earlier versions of the product do not support keeping the model as a root. So, how can you ensure that the file is compatible? The first way is from the ensuing wizard page.

Package Details wizard page

If you click the Next button after selecting a template (and if it is supported by the template) you will be presented with the Package Details page.

In the Package Type group, you are able to change the package type to Model, as shown in Figure 1. Then, the root of the resource will be a Model, and the file can be opened properly in previous versions. This setting does not revert. Thus, if you run through the wizard again, Models will be generated, not Packages. If you are planning on using models in a previous release of the product, choosing Model instead of Package will help prevent a backwards compatibility issue.

Figure 1. Choosing between Model and Package in the Package Type group
Package Details wizard page
Package Details wizard page

Tip: You can see in Figure 2 that the icon for the package (a closed folder) is slightly different than the icon for the model (a closed folder with a triangle) in the Project Explorer. Therefore you can tell them apart without having to activate the Properties view.

Figure 2. The UML icon representing a Model
AirlineSystem expanded in Project Explorer

If you have already created a Package and would like to convert it to a Model, you can do so easily.

  1. Right-click the Package
  2. Select Refactor > Convert Package to Model
  3. Click OK.

Tip: You can convert a Model to a Package in the same manner. Right-click the Model, and select Refactor > Convert Model to Package. You are warned that you will be losing the viewpoint attribute. Recall that the viewpoint String is an additional property supported only by the package, not the model. Also, do not confuse this viewpoint String from the UML specification with the Modeling viewpoints used to hide unnecessary elements of the user interface.

Having the root element as a package has its benefits. For example, it is possible to move one root package into another with a simple drag-and-drop operation. This is perfectly valid, because a package can contain other packages.

Model Capabilities wizard page

The Model Capabilities page allows you to hide irrelevant UI from your model. For example, suppose that you chose to create a model from the Blank Package template, and you will be modeling Activity diagrams exclusively. There is no need to clutter up the menus, palettes, and diagram assistants with menu items, tools, and buttons with options to create elements that you will not be interested in. From this wizard page, you may select only the diagrams and UML elements that you would potentially use in your model.

Figure 3. Select the capabilities to associate with the new model
Activity Diagram is selected
Activity Diagram is selected

Tip: If you decide to change the capabilities after creating the model, simply:

  1. Select the model in the Project Explorer view.
  2. Then, you can modify the capabilities from the Capabilities tab of the Properties view.

Add the project to Modeling Sets wizard page

A Modeling Working Set is a group of resources that consists solely of Modeling resources from your Eclipse workspace. You can think of it as a Resource Working Set that has been filtered to only include Modeling files.

The Add the project to Modeling Working Sets page allows you to add the project containing your newly created model (either from a standard template or from an existing model) into such a working set. If you do not have a working set already, you can click the Select button to create your own working set, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Adding a project to a Modeling Working Set
check box and drop-down list
check box and drop-down list

The purpose of a working set is to hide irrelevant resources from your workspace. For example, suppose that half of the time you are responsible for the Scheduling System, while the other half of the time you are responsible for the Reservations System. Both sets of resources have similar naming conventions, making it easy to confuse them. Usually, they are independent, but occasionally you would like to work with both sets at the same time.

As a solution to this problem, you could divide the resources into two working sets.

  1. Then, from views such as the Project Explorer (or Package Explorer) you could press the triangle button to show the View menu.
  2. From there, choose Select Working Set (as shown in Figure 5) to filter out the irrelevant resources in your workspace to avoid confusion.
Figure 5. Selecting the working set from the Project Explorer
menu command
menu command

Wizard extensibility

The extensibility mechanism of the New Model wizard has been much improved. Indeed, as a testament to its extensibility, the UML Model wizard extends the generic, non-UML specific Model wizard. This explains why there are two wizards: one is intended for models in general, while the other is intended for UML models. The UML Model wizard subclasses You can do so too, to build a customized wizard.

For more details on contributing the wizard through the org.eclipse.ui.newWizards extension point, please see the Resources section. To learn more on contributing templates, please see the product’s documentation (Extending product function > Extending IBM Rational Software Architect Software function > Extending the Rational modeling environment > Rational Modeling Platform Developer Guide > Programmer's Guide > Customizing the user interface > Adding Templates to the New Model Wizard).

Reducing model load time

The standard way of opening a model is by-double clicking it in the Project Explorer view. In Rational Software Architect V7.5, you will notice a plus sign next to each model, as shown in Figure 6. If you click the plus sign next to a closed model, the model will open without opening the main diagram or the model editor. Typically, the main diagram, which opens when the model is opened, is the diagram with the most references. Therefore, rendering that is what usually triggers referenced models to load. Clicking the plus sign instead of double clicking the model allows you to browse the model without opening the diagram, and thus potentially triggering other models to load. This can be a real time saver.

Figure 6. Plus signs appear next to closed models in the Project Explorer
tree view

Tip: You can also achieve this using the Open Model menu item, which is available when you right-click a selected model in the Project Explorer. The Open Model menu item will not open the model editor or the main diagram.

Model integrity
Have you ever opened a model that opened properly just a little while ago, only to find that now when you open it, it contains broken references? In Rational Software Architect, there is a new dialog informing you of broken references. This dialog appears whenever you open a model containing one or more broken references (for example, through a user gesture such as clicking the plus sign, double-clicking the model, or even indirectly by opening some other referencing model).

Pressing the Details button shows you a table of the broken references, as shown in Figure 7. There are three buttons at the bottom:

  • The first is Repair: This repairs the references immediately subject to your workspace preferences, which will be explained in further detail. Repair will only search for elements within the model currently being loaded. Problem markers will be created for elements which cannot currently be resolved.
  • The one in the middle is Mark problems, which adds problem markers to the Problems view for all the broken references. In addition, the model elements will be marked with a red X to indicate the location of the problem.
  • The one on the right is Ignore. This leaves the broken references alone.
Figure 7.The Repair Workspace References dialog
Element on the left, Path on the right
Element on the left, Path on the right

Being able to mark the problems is not very useful without being able to fix them. Fortunately, you have the ability to do just that. If you choose the Quick Fix menu item, a dialog with two choices displays. Choosing the Automatic Workspace Reference Fixup choice scans all of the resources in your workspace (including the closed resources). It then attempts to fix all of the broken references by locating the element inside one of the resources. The matching algorithm is based on element ID. Alternatively, choosing the Change resource path reference choice will only fix the currently selected broken reference.

It is possible to change the reference resolution settings to suit your workflow. You can do this from the Preferences dialog, in the Modeling, Resource Resolution category, as shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8. The Resource Resolution preference page.
select item in tree on left, set preferences right
select item in tree on left, set preferences right

These are your choices for the first group of options (Resolution Method):

  • None: Does not take any action when a broken reference is encountered. Equivalent to the Ignore button in the dialog.
  • Prompt (default): displays the Repair Workspace References dialog, allowing you to preview the broken reference and then decide what to do.
  • Mark broken references: Automatically creates problem markers when broken references are encountered without prompting. Equivalent to the Mark problems button in the dialog.
  • Repair broken references: Automatically repairs the broken references without prompting. Equivalent to the Repair button in the dialog.

The second group of options (Check to Perform) requires some more explanation:

  • Check resources (default): The reference is deemed to be unbroken as long as the resource exists, even if the referenced element no longer exists inside the resource.
  • Check resources and elements: The reference is deemed to be unbroken if the resource exists and the referenced element exists inside the resource.

Tip: To preserve the behavior of the previous release, the Check resources option was chosen as the default. However, Check resources and elements performs a more thorough job (although it takes a little more time). If you need to fix up references after having moved numerous elements between resources, it is strongly suggested that you select the Check resources and elements option.

Profile integrity

Apart from opening models with broken intra-model references, you could open a model with a missing applied profile. Figure 9 illustrates the situation after opening a model (CateringSystem) where the profile applied to that model (PilotOrderMaker) is missing.

  1. First, open the Profile Editor and click the Details tab.
  2. Then select the unresolved applied profile. Both the Repair and Remove buttons will be enabled.

In Rational Software Architect V7.5, there are two actions that you may now take to help you resolve this problem. Clicking Repair allows you to reselect the profile to be applied. This is useful if the location to the profile has been moved. For example, this may happen if the profile used to be a file in your workspace, but now it is being deployed in your environment as a plug-in.

However, if a completely useless profile is applied (does a pilot even make catering orders?), clicking the Remove button will be more appropriate. Remove will unapply the profile application, as well as all of the applied stereotypes from the profile being unapplied. There is no way to recover this information once it is removed, so you should be careful when you use it. In cases where the profile is obviously meaningless, it is quite a handy tool to use.

Figure 9. The Profile Editor shows unresolved profiles
Details tab selected at the bottom of the screen
Details tab selected at the bottom of the screen

Activity Diagram

New developments in Activity diagrams in Rational Software Architect V7.5 include:

  • Automatic synchronization of Call Behavior Actions and Call Operation Actions to the respective behavior or operation
  • Enhancements to layout
  • A new, unified flow tool
  • The ability to control the hiding and showing of pins

Call Behavior Actions and Call Operation Actions

Starting with IBM® Rational Software Modeler V7.0.5.1 and IBM® Rational Software Developer V7.0.5.1 and new to Rational Software Architect V7.5, Call Behavior Actions and Call Operation Actions are no longer given names by default. When a Call Behavior Action or Call Operation Action is unnamed, the name of the referenced behavior or operation is used instead. Of course, if you choose to specify a name, that name is displayed.

Note: If you choose to display aliases on the diagram, and the Call Behavior Action or Call Operation Action is unnamed, the alias of the referenced behavior or operation is displayed (regardless of whether or not the alias for the Call Behavior Action or Call Operation Action is set). Should the alias of the referenced behavior or operation be blank, the name of the referenced behavior or operation will be displayed.

Because Call Behavior Actions and Call Operation Actions created in previous versions of the product were given names by default, you may want to clear the names of those actions in the model to take advantage of the new functionality. To clear the names of all the Call Behavior Actions quickly:

  1. Activate the Tasks view and select a task titled "It is suggested that the call behavior action "[name]" has a blank name to show the name of the referenced [behavior / operation]."
  2. Right-click and choose Quick Fix.
  3. Next, choose the option to Clear the name of all call behavior actions in the model, as shown in Figure 10.

These steps can be repeated for Call Operation Actions, substituting Behavior for Operation where necessary.

Figure 10. Options in the Quick Fix dialog to clear the name of Call Behavior Actions easily
Two options listed under Available fixes
Two options listed under Available fixes


The Arrange All and Arrange Selection behavior in activity diagrams has been enhanced. In particular, elements do not overlap partitions. Also, it is now possible to arrange elements inside a partition easily. Arrange Selection is now enabled when a partition is selected: it results in arranging the elements within the currently selected partition, as shown in Figure 11. On the other hand, Arrange All arranges the entire activity diagram independently of the selected object.

. Figure 11. Arrange can be performed via the diagram toolbar as well as through a menu item
menu command
menu command

Unified Flow tool

If you worked with Activity diagrams using a previous version of Rational Software Architect, you probably noticed two flow tools in the palette: Object Flow and Control Flow. Now, in Rational Software Architect V7.5, the palette has been simplified to contain only one tool. You no longer have to worry about picking the correct one, as the tool is smart enough to determine which one you want based on UML rules and common sense.

The Flow tool is now even smart enough to be able to change between Control flow and Object flow when necessary. For example, it is obvious that the Yes and No flows between the isvaluedcustomer Decision control node and the Hang up and Giveoffer Activity Final nodes must be Control flows, as shown in Figure 12. However, suppose for some reason that you were to add a Central Buffer. If you then reoriented the No end to the Central Buffer, the Control flow will automatically change to an Object flow.

Figure 12. Modeling with the Flow tool.
activity diagram
activity diagram

Of course, it is possible that you are very particular about which flow tool will be used.

  1. Should this be the case, you still have the option of reenabling the previous two flow tools from the Preferences dialog in General > Capabilities.
  2. Click the Advanced button and select the UML Activity 4 option to enable it, as shown in Figure 13.
Figure 13. Enabling the capability to display both the Object Flow and Control Flow tools.
Advanced Capabilities Settings dialog
Advanced Capabilities Settings dialog

Showing and hiding pins

Some people find pins very distracting and (even though they are semantically necessary) want them hidden from the Activity diagram.

  1. Click the diagram surface, then on the Appearance property tab.
  2. Select the Hide action pins check box. The pins will now become hidden.
  3. You can also choose to hide pins for all diagrams from the Preferences dialog in Modeling>UML Diagrams>Activity>Pin Display, as shown in Figure 14.
Figure 14. Showing and hiding pins in the Preferences dialog
tree view on left, details on right
tree view on left, details on right

Sequence diagrams

You can now refactor portions of a sequence diagram into an InteractionUse. In addition, refactoring an operation will update the corresponding message in a Sequence diagram, even when the Sequence diagram is in a closed model. Also, Sequence diagrams now support Formal and Actual Gates for better compliance with the UML specification, and copy and paste support has been much improved.

Sequence diagram refactoring

Sometimes, Sequence diagrams contain a lot of detail that you are just not interested in. You can refactor a section of the diagram into an InteractionUse. In the diagram shown in Figure 15, the AgentSystem sends a cancel request to the CancellationManager. This portion can be refactored into an InteractionUse. To do so, right-click and select Refactor > Refactoring Into New Interaction. The ability to perform this refactoring is new to Rational Software Architect V7.5.

Figure 15. Refactoring a section of the Sequence diagram into an InteractionUse.
menu command
menu command

Double-clicking the InteractionUse opens the new Sequence diagram that results from the refactoring.

In addition, if a Sequence diagram message references an operation, and the operation is subsequently refactored, the message name will be updated automatically. The update will occur even when the Sequence diagram is in a closed model. This functionality is new to Rational Software Architect V7.5, but was available in IBM® Rational® Software Modeler Version (and later) and IBM® Rational® Software Developer Version

Tip: If you want the closed models to be considered, you need to perform a refactoring (as shown in Figure 16), not a simple rename. Be sure to choose Refactor>Rename from the context menu of the operation in the Project Explorer, instead of simply renaming the operation (for example, from the diagram surface or from the Properties view). Selecting Refactor > Rename on an operation will update the message names, even when the Sequence diagram containing the message is in a closed model.

Figure 16. Fixing a misspelled operation name
list of Changes to be performed
list of Changes to be performed

Gate support

Gate support has been added to Rational Software Modeler V7.0.5.1 and Rational Software Developer V7.0.5.1, but is new to Rational Software Architect V7.5.

  1. To add a Formal Gate on the interaction frame, click a message palette creation tool.
  2. Next, click the diagram frame and drag it to the lifeline.

In the example shown in Figure 17, a synchronous message has been created from the diagram frame to the lifeline, and the existing operation, performCancel, has been selected. The messages are added to the bottom of the lifeline. The simplest way to move them into the proper position is by message reordering.

  1. To do this, press the Alt key while selecting the message in Windows (or select the messages, right-click and choose Select Message Set > Reorder).
  2. Then drag the requestCancel into the performCancel block.
Figure 17. Modeling a Formal Gate.
diagram on left, palette on right
diagram on left, palette on right

To model the Actual Gate to the InteractionUse in the original diagram, perform the following steps.

  1. Drag a message from another lifeline (say, an Actor representing the Agent in Figure 18) to the InteractionUse.
  2. Select the same operation as the one you chose for the Formal Gate.
Figure 18. Modeling an Actual Gate.
menu command
menu command

Tip: Rational Software Architect V7.5 contains validation rules to detect dangling and mismatched gates. The errors and tasks will show up in the Problems view and the Tasks view, respectively. The rule names are Interaction gates and Actual gates – formal gates matching rule.

Copy-and-paste enhancements

Copy-and-paste support has been much improved for sequence diagrams in Rational Software Architect V7.5. You can now copy Sequence diagram elements within and between Sequence diagrams, and you can copy Interactions within the Project Explorer. Probably the most useful enhancement relating to this functionality is that the paste operation is context aware.

This means that you can copy an Optional Combined Fragment into another. Arguably more useful, existing lifelines and elements are reused whenever possible. For example, if you copy messages, they appear at the bottom of the original lifelines. You can even copy lifelines and only a portion of the messages. These enhancements have made sequence diagrams much easier to edit.

Other new features and improvements

Identifying validation rules

Previous sections of this article discussed how certain validation rules have been added, along with gate support.

However, the reason for certain problems, warnings, and tasks may not be immediately apparent to you. Now, there is an easy way to identify the rule corresponding to the validation failure.

  1. Select a problem, warning, or task from the Problems view or the Tasks view and right-click it.
  2. You will see a new menu item called Constraint definition, as shown in Figure 19. Choosing this menu item will give you detailed information about the task, so that you can better understand the suggested action. If the constraint is not mandatory, you have the option of disabling it by clearing the checkbox and clicking OK.
Figure 19. Get more details about the rule causing the validation failure.
menu command
menu command

The Explore palette tab

In Rational Software Architect V7.5, you have the ability to explore relationships easily. The Explore tab in the diagram palette allows you to explore different kinds of relationships. To see the elements related to a particular element, click a palette item, then the target element on the diagram surface. The relationships and the related elements all appear automatically.

Figure 20 shows the relationships and related elements of SingleAvailabilityQuery (choose the All Relationships tool from the UML drawer of the Explore tab in the palette, and click the SingleAvailabilityQuery class).

Figure 20. Using the All Relationships tool to visualize relationships.
diagram with relationships on left, palette right
diagram with relationships on left, palette right

In addition, from the Profile drawer, you can visualize applied stereotypes and applied profiles, as shown in Figure 21. To do so, use the Applied Stereotypes tool from the Profile drawer of the Explore tab in the palette.

Figure 21. Using the Applied Stereotypes tool to visualize relationships.
diagram and palette
diagram and palette


You may want to keep certain diagram elements together. For example, the StartLocation and EndLocation enumerations are similar concepts, so it would make sense that they appear close to each other on the diagram. To do so:

  1. Select the shapes
  2. Right-click them, and then choose Filters>Group….

After they are grouped together, the elements are treated as one inseparable block, even during arrange operations. In addition, if the group is selected, Arrange Selection will arrange the objects inside the group.

Another benefit of grouping elements is the ability to modify the appearance of the grouped elements quickly. For example, the visibility of the compartments of StartLocation and EndLocation can be modified from the Filters pop-up menu.

Other properties can be set from the Appearance tab of the Properties view, or from the Format pop-up menu when the group is selected. This allows you to apply a consistent look to multiple elements without having to reselect the same elements over and over again before making changes. You can un-group elements using the pop-up menu, as shown in Figure 22.

Figure 22. Ungroup grouped elements
menu command
menu command

Modeling exceptions

In previous versions of Rational Software Architect, it was not possible to model exceptions. Rational Software Architect V7.5 adds support for modeling exceptions. You can try this out by doing the following.

  1. Add an Operation to a Class.
  2. Then, with the Operation selected, invoke the Properties view. You will see a tab titled Exceptions, as shown in Figure 23.
  3. Click the Add button to choose an exception to add.
Figure 23. The Exceptions property tab.
Project Explorer, Main, and Properties views
Project Explorer, Main, and Properties views

Modeling default values for multivalued attributes

You can specify multiple default values for an attribute in Rational Software Architect V7.5.

  1. After creating your attribute, select the Properties view.
  2. Click the ellipses (…) button. You will be presented with an interface for modeling multivalued attributes, as shown in Figure 24.

Tip: If the ellipses button is not active, be sure that you have set the multiplicity to * or a number greater than 1, and that you have set a type for the attribute. Different types will result in different buttons appearing in the interface for modeling multivalued attributes. For example, setting the attribute to be of type Enumeration will result in different buttons than setting the attribute to be of a primitive type.

Figure 24. Modeling multiple default values.
Properties pop-up window
Properties pop-up window

Likewise, if you perform Instance modeling, you will be pleased to find that Rational Software Architect V7.5 has much-improved support for slot values through a similar interface. The same improvements were added to Rational Software Modeler and Rational Systems Developer V7.0.5.1.

Rich text

The rich text functionality is immensely improved and more robust in Rational Software Architect V7.5, as shown in Figure 25. Of note, the behavior in Linux is slightly different than in Windows. For example, to edit the documentation in the Model Editor using Linux, click the Edit button underneath the documentation block to display a dialog that will allow you to edit the rich text.

Figure 25. Using rich text for model documentation
Overview tab selected
Overview tab selected

Element and relationship functionality

Rational Software Architect V7.5 has several other important new features.

Expanding element imports and package imports in place

You can easily expand element imports and package imports by clicking the plus sign, as shown in Figure 26. This functionality is new to Rational Software Architect V7.5, but was available in Rational Software Modeler and Rational Systems Developer V7.0.5.1. Being able to expand elements in place enables you to share manageable-sized models among larger teams and being able to reference them easily.

It is important to be clear that these imports do not necessarily have to be system libraries. They can be another model that you are sharing with another team member (or even another team), or they can point back to another package in the same model. As long as you can create an element import or package import to that element, it can be expanded in place.

Figure 26. Expanding package imports in the Project Explorer.
tree view
tree view

Select Element dialog

When you have a large number of models in your workspace, it is a good idea not to open them all at the same time, because this will negatively impact performance. Indeed, the plus sign enhancement discussed previously helps reduce the number of open models in your environment.

In previous versions of Rational Software Architect, you were unable to work with closed models in the Select Element dialog. In fact, closed models were filtered out. In order to select something from a closed model, you had to cancel out of these Select Element dialogs, manually open the model, and then reinvoke the dialog to select the element.

Not anymore! First, the Select Element dialog shows the closed models in the Browse tab, as shown in Figure 27. Second, double-clicking the closed model will open it.

Tip: Of course, in the Browse tab, you can also expand element imports and package imports in the same way as in the Project Explorer. Being able to expand imports replaces the Model Imports virtual folder from previous releases, and is how you will now locate and select primitive types.

Figure 27. Closed models are shown in the Browse tab of the Select Element dialog
tree view
tree view

Similarly, in the Search tab of the Select Element dialog, elements from closed models are returned in the list of matches. Their icons are shown with a decorator at the top left, as shown in Figure 28.

  1. Double-clicking one of these matches (or selecting it and pressing OK) will load the model and select the element.
  2. To exclude closed models from your search scope, click Modify search scope and clear the Search entire workspace check box.
Figure 28. Elements from closed models in list of matches
query and result
query and result

Content assist and creating unknown types

Element imports and package imports are not only helpful when you expand them in place. If you import an element and invoke content assist, types from the imported package will be included in the results. Content assist shows types from imported models. The CentralSystem package has been imported (see the Project Explorer view shown in Figure 29), so its types show up in content assist.

Figure 29. Content assist
context-appropriate choices for selected element
context-appropriate choices for selected element

Notice that the Select Element dialog is more relaxed on visibility rules. In effect, it behaves like a mini Project Explorer, showing closed models and (depending on how it is invoked) possibly even elements that may not be valid selections.

Content assist, however, shows valid selections from the current model (where current model is in relation to the location of the actual element, not to a diagram on which the element may reside), and from elements which would be made available by an import, regardless of visibility. Elements from closed models and fragments are also shown, as long as they are valid selections.

On the other hand, if you were to enter an unrecognized type, you will be prompted to create a primitive type, as shown in Figure 30. Created types will be added into a PrimitveTypes package at the root of your model. If this package does not already exist, it is created.

Figure 30. A dialog appears when an unknown type is entered.
Create New Type dialog
Create New Type dialog

You can control the settings of the Create New Type dialog from the Preferences dialog by adjusting the Automatically create a new type when an unknown type is entered setting on the Modeling > Miscellaneous page. In addition, you can also modify the content assist preferences from that preference page, as shown in Figure 31.

Figure 31. The Modeling > Miscellaneous preference page
tree view on left, details on right
tree view on left, details on right


In previous versions of Rational Software Architect, in order to model a relationship, you had to drag at least the source or target onto a diagram, then draw a relationship using a relationship palette tool or connector handles. Also, if you did not want the elements on the diagram, you had to delete the two elements and the relationship.

In Rational Software Architect V7.5, you can model a relationship without visualizing any of the elements on the diagram.

  1. In the Project Explorer, locate the object that will be at the source end of the relationship.
  2. Then, right-click and choose Add UML, Relationship.
  3. You can pick from one of the common relationships in the menu or click Advanced. In either case, you are presented with a modified version of the familiar Select Element dialog, which you will use to choose the relationship’s target element. If you chose Advanced, you are also given the option of choosing the relationship type, as shown in Figure 32.

Tip: If Advanced does not appear in the Add UML> Relationship menu, enable the UML Relationship 3 capability from UML Element Building Blocks.

Figure 32. Choosing the target end and the type of the relationship
tree view on top, list of types below
tree view on top, list of types below

Alternatively, you can also select a source or a target element, and then show the new Relationships property tab in the Properties view. From this tab, you can choose to create a new relationship and choose the target element or the source element of the relationship. (This is unlike the Add UML menu, which assumes that the selected element is the source element and only allows you to choose the target element.) The Relationships tab also shows elements participating in relationships, as shown in Figure 33. If you click the Navigate button, you will see the selected relationship(s) in the Project Explorer. On the other hand, if you click the Navigate to Related Element(s) button, you will see the other elements participating in the relationship(s) selected in the Project Explorer.

Figure 33. The Relationships tab in the Properties view
source and target relationships
source and target relationships

Model fragments

The most obvious change in fragments is that when you right-click the package in the Project Explorer, the Create Fragment and Absorb Fragment menus have moved under the Refactor submenu, as shown in Figure 34.

Figure 34. The Refactor submenu contains menu items to create and absorb fragments
menu commands
menu commands

In addition to these, you will find new menu items, including Fragment All Sub-Packages and Absorb All Sub-Fragments. These allow you to perform batch creation and absorption of fragments. Previously, fragments would have to be created or absorbed individually.

Tip: The selected item is not fragmented or absorbed when you choose Fragment All Sub-Packages and Absorb All Sub-Fragments. Only the nested child elements are fragmented or absorbed.


You have seen how refactoring portions of a Sequence diagram into an InteractionUse can simplify things. In addition, you saw how Rational Software Architect helps keep model elements in sync upon refactoring to preserve model integrity: namely, updating message names in Sequence diagrams, and having the Call Behavior Actions and Call Operation Actions use the referenced Behavior and Operation names. However, there are several more refactoring enhancements in Rational Software Architect V7.5.

Refactor, delete

A new Delete menu item has been added to the Refactor pop-up menu in the Project Explorer. Refactor>Delete opens closed models (with references to the element being deleted), and updates the references. For example, diagram elements referencing the deleted element are removed.

Granular preview and the ability to disable non-compulsory updates

In Rational Software Architect V7.5, when you perform a refactoring (including creating and absorbing fragments), you are presented with a granular preview that lists all of the affected resources. Perhaps more importantly, you now have the ability to turn off non-essential updates, as shown in Figure 35. This is as opposed to being forced to abort the entire refactor operation, as in previous releases.

Therefore, this preview does not only serve as a warning as to whether the refactoring should be performed at all. In addition, it provides the ability to turn off a particular update, which can be essential in team scenarios (where not all files are writable). There can be times when you really do need to perform a refactoring, even when you are unable to update a dependant file (which you may not have write access to). An example of this is making an API change between versions, even though you know that you will be breaking an external client.

Figure 35. You can disable unwanted changes in the Refactoring preview window
tree view without preview
tree view without preview

Adding fragment creation and absorption participants

Custom participants for fragment creation and absorption are now supported. This parallels Eclipse’s refactoring participants. To obtain details on the API usage, please choose File>New>Example, and then select the Fragment Participant Example from the UML Modeler Plug-ins category, as shown in Figure 36.

Figure 36. The wizard used to create the Fragment Participant Example in your workspace.
tree view
tree view

Tip: If you do not see the sample in the New Example wizard, be sure to install the Modeling Extensibility component from the Installation Manager.

New functionality in Rational Software Architect

In terms of enabling you to work in larger teams, model repair and profile application repair have been enhanced, both of which are instrumental in ensuring model consistency and integrity. The ability to expand element imports and package imports in place makes model sharing scenarios in larger teams far easier to implement than ever before. In addition, offering a refactoring preview makes it easier to identify which changes are breaking changes, especially for those working in larger teams with many unfamiliar models.

As for ease of use, Modeling Working Sets help streamline the resources in your environment. There is a new way of creating relationships without involving the diagram, with the application, clearly indicating what elements can be the target given the source (and vice versa). Grouping is now supported. Enhancements have been made to the Activity diagram, reflecting an understanding that not everyone wants to get into the details of UML semantics of flows and pins.

Arrange support has been improved. It is now easy to identify the validation rules corresponding to validation failures quickly. Model load times have also been made quicker, because the product enables you to browse through closed models rapidly, using the plus sign. Content assist has been enhanced to consider imports, and a type creation feature has been added to help you quickly create types. Again, it focuses more on your workflow, rather than on the semantics.

The same can be said regarding the enhancements to the Select Element dialog: it focuses on your workflow. Sequence diagram copy functions have been enhanced to make it easier to edit the diagrams. Also, the Explore tab makes it quicker to find relationships between elements.

For compliance with the UML specification, formal and actual gates are supported in Sequence diagrams, and it is possible to have the Package as the root element.

As for general enhancements:

  • The extensibility mechanism of the New Model wizard has been improved
  • Rich text support has been enhanced
  • It is now possible to model exceptions and multivalued attributes.

Furthermore, various enhancements to update the message names and to Call Behavior Actions and Call Operation Actions have made it easier to keep your models in sync, and to preserve model integrity, even when the inevitable refactorings take place.


The author would like to thank Dusko Misic and Michael Hanner for reviewing this article.

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ArticleTitle=Using the new features of UML Modeler in IBM Rational Software Architect Version 7.5