Using eaForms to hide tagged values (and improve the quality of your model)

Tagged values are used extensively since they allow us to customise the information we store for our elements. So unlike pre-defined fields we can add them as we require to match the needs of our project. Also within EA we can specify the type and, for some types valid values.  So that’s all great.

Within EA, tagged values can be accessed in several ways. For example, they are available as a tab of the element properties editor or can be accessed via a separate tagged values window. However,  this does mean that the user needs to remember to switch to the relevant place to enter values.  And although there is often the option to set a default value, there is no check that a value has been entered by the user, and hence it may be that the value is a true reflection of the authors input.

We believe this leaves some room for errors and/or incomplete information when editing elements.  So in eaForms we have provided some features which we believe can help users when creating and editing elements.

  • For a start eaForms presents tagged value in the same way as other element fields, with all the same window controls – whether it be a text field, checkbox, rich text box, drop down list, etc – and hence can better reflect the type of input required and simplify data entry
  • The eaForms designer can set pre-defined values to help ensure consistency of values across the model
  • The eaForms designer can also mandate the need for a valid value and hence ensure that data is entered, which in turn can help drive completeness

Although simple these features not only hide some of the fiddly stuff associated with using tagged values, but also help improve the quality of the model.

To illustrate we have some sample screen shots below that show the use of different controls for tagged values.  (Note: these features can be applied across all elements, stereotypes and MDG’s)

Example eaForm showing the use of common windows controls for data entry

Example eaForm showing the use of common windows controls for data entry

On the left we have used several check boxes to capture choices. On the right is a rich text box used to allow them to provide more detailed information.  And on the top right we have a drop down where the user must select a value, no default value has been set and in the definition of the form we have flagged the field as mandatory.   If the user fails to enter a value they are reminded that it is required before they can save their edit.

Example of eaForm warning when required (mandatory) field value not set

Example of eaForm warning when required (mandatory) field value not set

And we must remember that our aim, as always, is to simplify the work of the user who has the knowledge that we need in our model.  So in removing the need to switch to a different place to enter information, by consolidating it all onto a single form in a consistent manner, we can help the user focus on the task in hand.

So just to recap – eaForms:

  • Treats tagged values in the same way as other element fields – easier for user to understand
  • Offers a range of different windows controls for editing including those that force a selection from pre-defined values
  • Allows fields to be flagged as mandatory to ensure completeness of content

Just one small aid to helping getting the job done – I hope you agree.

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