As you have probably gathered, if you’ve read any of my blog, I spend a lot of my “day job” writing EA Add-Ins. It’s one of the great advantages of EA, and along with the general mechanisms to access the core EA object model, and some of the key reasons I selected EA so long ago. It wasn’t that I could enjoy spending my time writing Add-Ins (that came much later) but more that there was a mechanism to interact with or expand its functionality in the way that I may need.
In fact, by removing a dependency between the features that Sparx may add to EA, and the specific needs of the users, means that functionality can be added as required, and in a timely manner. Furthermore, this functionality can be added by those who may have more insight into the need and/or other tools with which any integration may be required.
Writing an Add-In may not be for all – and I would argue that it may not be the best solution – (I’ll write my thoughts on this one day) – however, it can be entertaining.
Personally I make use of the following Add-Ins on a regular basis:
- eaDocX – I wrote the Excel part and for me it is one of the most useful tools for getting stuff into and out of EA, especially when developing new models and using information from many different sources.
- HoTools, written by Helmut Ortmann, which helps make my lines pretty (available from download off the Sparx community site) – so much easier than using the diagram tools!
- Plus the tools I’m developing / testing such as eaForms plus some other project management tools.
If you take a look at the list of Add-Ins list on the Sparx site (Sparx 3rd Party List), – many of them are very specific to a domain and very much in line with my expectation that the experts of the associated product have authored them. If you then do a Google search you’ll find some additional Add-Ins, once again many provide integration with another tool, whilst others provide some enhanced functionality.
What interests me is what Add-Ins really people use? I know users of my own Add-Ins, but in terms of the broader EA community is there widespread use of Add-Ins? What Add-ins are used?
I know the ones I use regularly are those that provide general functionality and this seems to intuitive. Although I found it interesting that I had very little interest in an EA Add-In I wrote for MS-Project (I also write an Add-In for MS-Project which would work in reverse); I just put that down to the fact that there were very few project managers using EA – which wouldn’t surprise me. So it may not general purpose tools and need for an Add-In may not be the general rule.
If ignoring the very specific tools integration products, are there any other “general” tools for which an Add-In is required and doesn’t exist? What do users want and why? It’s not obvious to me but would welcome any thoughts.
So with that final question I’ll go and look at one of my current projects – another Add-In!
BTW: You may have noticed I’ve added information on some of my current Add-In developments in the sidebar – just a flavour of what we do at EXploringEA.