As promised, here’s an update to my initial post on Wednesday’s announcements from CA ERwin, following CA’s responses.
So, what’s new?
ERwin r8.2 new features (based on the part of the presentation I saw on Wednesday – I haven’t found a feature list on erwin.com)
- Active Model Templates – more granular re-use of model objects
- Concurrent licencing – don’t pay for a licence each if your users don’t work on data models full-time; let them share a few licences
Two new products
- support for a new relational DBMS – Microsoft SQL Azure. Manage and understand your cloud databases in the same way as you do your in-house databases, via a new stand-alone edition of ERwin Data Modeller (this does also support additional DBMS platforms)
- A new web portal – this is the big part of the announcement, and it plugs a gaping hole in the product line. As a first release, it’s pretty good – other vendors should take note.
The new web portal
- models can be loaded from files but not from the Model Mart
- maximum 50 users
- limited customisation
- runs on the SQL Server Express database, making implementation simpler
- models can be loaded from files and from the Model Mart
- 400+ users supported
- Versioning & Configuration Management support (separate from the Model Mart)
- Object Customisation through user-defined properties (separate from CA ERwin UDPs)
The portal doesn’t interrogate the live model mart repository, you extract models from the model mart and load them into a separate database. The extraction process uses metadata from the models to construct links between models and between objects in models, which can be searched and browsed; this type of searching isn’t supported by ERwin Data Modeller. The links can be visualised in diagrams, generated via Flash.
The portal comes with pre-defined ‘business’ and ‘technical’ views, tailored to different audiences – these views can be altered (with the Enterprise Edition, custom interfaces can also be created).
Access is based on‘configurations’ – these appear to be groups of models with defined access permissions. Note that these are separate from any permissions set in the Model Mart.
The key portal functions are:
- keyword-based search, allowing you to filter by object type, property type, and model
- cannot distinguish between entity/table or attribute/column (no surprise there, this is ERwin after all)
- search results show the name, definition and comment of each ‘hit’
- click on an entry in the search results to go that object in the portal, within a list of objects in the model the object lives in
- now you can click on other objects in the model and check out their properties using the browser (see below)
- the portal opens several tabs, so you don’t have to keep clicking on the back button in the web browser
- several pre-supplied reports – these are not RTF-style reports, the output is tabular
- you can choose which properties to show in the report, the display sequence, and the ordering
- the content of a report can be exported to a CSV file
- like the browser in ERwin data modeller, except you can browse lots of models at the same time
- this is the really fancy part of the new portal – it can create diagrams showing the lineage of models and model objects, presumably tracing the links I mentioned earlier. These diagrams aren’t available in ERwin Data Modeller. The diagram symbols are hyperlinked, so you can see the properties of the underlying objects, though I’m not sure if you can trace through dependent objects to show further context. One nice feature is the ability to copy the URL for the diagram – anyone else with the same URL will see the same diagram that you can see. There didn’t seem to be a way to save the diagram view, so that’s a nice stopgap.
- one good use of this feature is to view links between models, so you can see how you’ve built your enterprise layers, and presumably show how models are synced to each other
- you can view scalable images of diagrams extracted from your ERwin models. The symbols are hyperlinked, so you can see the underlying object properties
- you can flip the diagram between the logical and physical views, change some of the detail displayed, and switch notation between IE, IDEF1X, UML etc
Find out more from CA – http://erwin.com/products/detail/ca_erwin_web_portal/
Let’s hope the ERwin product team haven’t exhausted themselves with this release of the portal, and continue the good work! As I’ve already said, the lineage diagramming stands out for me – generating diagrams from metadata is definitely the way forward.