ERwin r8.2 features demonstrated today

I’m glad I attended CA’s webcast today, introducing two new products and the new release (r8.2) of ERwin data modeller. Unfortunately, I missed the first 17 minutes, so I missed most of what Donna Burbank said – I did see Neil Buchwalter’s demo of the new portal, so hopefully I covered it all. It’s a shame there was no Q&A at the end, as I’d sent a string of questions. I’ve been told that the product team will answer my questions directly.

So, what’s new?

ERwin r8.2 new features:

  1. Active Model Templates – more granular re-use of model objects
  2. 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

  1. 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
  2. A new web portal – this is the big part of today’s show, and it plugs a gaping hole in the product line. As a first release, it’s pretty good – other vendors should take note.

From the demo I saw today, here’s how it seems to work. If you see an asterisk * next to a point that’s in italics, that’s me reading between the lines of what I saw on screen. If I’ve got the wrong end of the stick, I’ll come back to this post and change it.

  • * the portal doesn’t examine the live model mart repository, you extract models from the model mart and load them into a separate database
  • * the generation 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
  • you can create ‘configurations’ – these appear to be groups of models with defined access permissions
    • * these appear to be different from the model mart permissions – maybe they’re linked, maybe not
  • the portal comes with pre-defined ‘business’ and ‘technical’ views, tailored to different audiences – these views can be altered (* can you create your own?)

The key portal functions are:

  • search
    • 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
  • reports
    • several pre-supplied reports
    • * you may be restricted to one type of object per report
    • these are not RTF-style reports – the output is more like a spreadsheet
    • 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
  • browse
    • like the browser in ERwin data modeller, except you can browse lots of models at the same time
  • lineage
    • 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. As far as I know, 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 the diagram 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
    • * lineage only seems to include generation links (e.g. table generated from entity, column generated from attribute) or synchronisations – it doesn’t include entities and their relationships
  • diagrams
    • you can view scalable diagram images. 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
    • * I’m not sure if the portal can create ERDs, or just display existing ones imported from model mart

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 diagramming stands out for me – generating diagrams from metadata is definitely the way forward.

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