The Most Useful ArchiMate Diagram Types

Introduction

ArchiMate is very powerful notation, it provides many elements (concepts) divided into layers and aspects (figure 1 below). There can be lots of diagram types to be used within each layer and aspect. However, to enable a simplified modelling approach, only a subset of ArchiMate elements can be used with small set of diagram types. There is certain diagram types that cover the most valuable aspects of each development target, examples of which are introduced below.

Figure 1: ArchiMate 3.1 Full Framework.

The most useful diagram types are:
1. Vision View (Goals Diagram) – to define the value and meaning of a development target (with ArchiMate Motivation elements).
2. Overview  / Layered View (Context Diagram) – to define all the relevant elements into one overall view (with elements from different layers and aspects)
3. Integration View (Information/Data Flow Diagram) – to illustrate the data flows between the applications, actors or processes. Also known as “co-operation” viewspoints.

With these diagram types, every development target, service etc. can be modeled to provide enough information for decision making and development purposes. These diagram types can answer to following questions:

  • WHY this development target is important, why we need this, why it is necessary?
  • WHAT are the parts (services, processes, applications etc.) related to this development target? What are the dependencies to its environment?
  • HOW this development target interacts with its environment?

Example Diagrams

Vision View (Goals Diagram)

This view can be used to define the purpose (the “WHY”), the value and meaning, of a development target, service or whatever is the case to be analyzed.

Figure 2: Motivation View – Pattern.

Another option to model the WHY -aspect is to utilize the Business Model Canvas (BMC) to model the motivation of the development target. A BMC can also be modeled with ArchiMate, as described here. It depends on the case which diagram type to use: whether to emphasize the business relevance and value, or just pure analysis why the development target is important. Also, modelling should be easy task, and therefore such a diagram types should be used which are the most easy to produce and interpret (with available resources and competencies). Finally, it is a matter of taste which diagram best describes all the relevant aspects of development target. Most probably both of these above mentioned diagram types can be utilized when answering to WHY question.

Overview / Layered View (Context Diagram)

This is the most useful and valuable ArchiMate diagram, as it combines elements from different layers into one overall view.

Figure 3: Layered view – Overview (Context Diagram).

Integration View (Information Flow Diagram)

This view can be used to define interactions between the elements such as applications. The diagram shows what information is moving to which direction, from which application to which application. This view can be applied to several layers with different variations such as: Actor Co-operation-, Process Co-operation- and Application Co-operation view.

Figure 4: Integration View.

Conclusions

ArchiMate is powerful modeling notation, which provides lots of elements for different layers and aspects (as shown in the figure 1 above). However, in practice, ArchiMate can be utilized by using only a subset of elements and only few diagram types to cover the most important aspects of each development target. This applies in most of the cases, no matter of the size or scale of the development target. It can be a new service or application, a business domain area etc.

Latest ArchiMate version 3.x provides catalog of viewpoints (link) with descriptions and elements to be used within each viewpoint. Earlier ArchiMate version 2.x provided viewpoints (link) with example diagrams, which were quite useful (but not very practical) for newbies to get the idea how modelling can support the development. These diagram types introduced here can form the basic foundation of the architecture landscape: 1) Vision View , 2) Overview  and 3) Integration View. These diagram types (and variations of them) can be modeled per each development target. This continuously adds new data to the architecture repository, as new development targets created or existing ones are modified.

If same kind of diagram types are used with all the services, development targets etc., it keeps the architecture landscape coherent. If all of these diagram types (mentioned above) are used for each case, then the modelling approach is consistent and analogous. And finally, when using specific diagram types for each case for visualization, those cases can be easier to understand, shared and communicated among different stakeholders.

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