The 5th UK meeting of the EA User Group took place in London on Tuesday 17th May 2016, with attendees representing the top EA users from over 50 UK companies.
Part of the meeting was given over to a workshop, exploring what improvements the community wants from EA.
We took a set of defined headings, and got small groups to create ideas for improvements in each area, then got different groups to prioritise those ideas. Each working group then had 60 seconds to persuade the rest of us that theirs were the best solutions, and everyone managed to stay inside the time (maybe the chocololate incentives helped!)
Finally, and by the very un-scientific process of the clap-o-meter, we decided on an overall top three requirements.
(We’re proposing to carry this list forward to future user group meetings: Netherlands and Germany are confirmed for later this year, with possible additional sessions in Sweden, Italy and USA.)
Below are the subject areas, and the priorities for each area, as decided by the working groups. I’ve added my comments based on what I overheard the groups talking about, and what they said in their 60-second pitch.
1. Undo Everything.
This was a real favourite, and really seemed to appeal to lots of the EA users.
2. Improve Diagram Filters (eg: on tagged values)
3. Fast Web-based Client (Read + Write)
Funny how this seems to come up whenever we talk about the future of EA…
1. Reinforcement of Corporate Standards
I think this was asking for a way to restrict modellers to only using the ‘standard’ way of doing things. MDGs were not enough – still too many ways for users to go wrong.
2. Version Control
Seems to arise more and more, as we get larger and more complex models.
3. Security of Views
1. Add Ins without Installer (no admin rights required)
This deals with a big barrier to using EA: most people use add-ins, and they all need to have admin rights. Makes EA ‘clunky’ to live with.
2. Add In App Store + sharing add ins
Everyone else has an app-store – why not EA?
3. Simplified MDG Creation
Why is this SO complicated ?
Modelling Languages and Frameworks
Overall, this team seemed to struggle to think of new ideas. Note to Sparx: concentrate elsewhere!
1. Better SysML Support
2. Improved UPDM
3. IT 4 IT
1. HTML Output - up to par with RTF
2. Improvement in capability to generate structural elements export to repository contents to CSV (Ability to generate reports like what I see on the screen) (Attribute of elements)
3. RTF Template to be less buggy and more intuitive
1. Localised Online Support
2. Roadmap as a process (As an artifact)
3. Visibility of Known Issues + tracking
This team felt quite strongly about this one. When they raised an issue, they wanted visibility of whether Sparx are working on it or ignoring it
1. EA Training & Certification - Novice to Ninja
2. More Complex Example models
3. Searchable Offline Help
Joker– for ‘other’ ideas
1. Improve Shape Script for Stereotypes
2. Better User Management Security
3. Job scheduler to automate stuff
Novice to Ninja
This idea was to have a Sparx-approved certification for EA users, in the same way that, for example Microsoft have certifications for their tools. At the moment, each training provider does their own thing, and this is nowhere near as good. The group thought Sparx-approved certification will enhance the status of not just the students who got certified, but also of the tool itself. The meeting also really liked the title!
Lots of groups mentioned version control in different ways, and this seems to be a developing issue, as people make more use of EA, with larger teams and more complicated models.
This was a surprise to some, but really seemed to be a popular feature. The ‘un-do’ function in EA works in some places, and not others, but lots of people thought this was a really important aspect of a more usable EA.
The User Group produced this output after just 60 minutes of intensive discussion, and it created lots of ideas and lots of energy. People really care about the future of EA, and were very keen to take part in the discussion.
Hopefully, Sparx will take notice: we’ll be watching!