Phil Beauvoir

Archi Product Manager and Creator. Code Punk.

Jul 132016
 
 13th July 2016  Posted by at 2:30 pm Comments Off on What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?

It’s that classic line from Monty Python’s film, “The Life of Brian”:

And I was thinking about how to answer this question if it was re-phrased as “What has Archi ever done for us?” or even, “What has Archi ever done for ArchiMate?”

Well.

I’m not going to presume anything about the global impact that Archi might have made during its 6 years existence, it might be better if its thousands of users attested to its apparent ubiquity, usefulness and popularity.

But, first, here’s a quote from an Enterprise Architect that someone sent me:

Archi does more to popularize the use of ArchiMate…In my practice as an EA I regularly encounter professionals who refer to Archi as ArchiMate. They are often quite stunned when I point out the difference.

It’s certainly true from my experience that very many people seem to think that Archi and ArchiMate are synonymous. I wouldn’t wish to perpetuate this misunderstanding and I do try to make clear the distinction between Archi® the tool and ArchiMate® the language (both are registered trademarks), but perhaps it’s a bit like the immediate association that we make with internet search and “Google” – “to Google”. The key is in strong branding, clear product and The Power of Pull.

We’re asking users to tell their stories here on this blog about how they use Archi and ArchiMate to model the enterprise, and there are many other stories being posted on-line, but for now I’ll provide some plain statistics. Here are the download figures for Archi as provided by Google Analytics for the Archi website from January 1 2014 up to yesterday (July 12 2016). Note that the Archi website only started to host the downloads from about January 2014 onwards, before that they were available from the old website.

Download figures

Download figures for Archi from Jan 1 2014 to July 12 2016

And here’s the global picture of site access for the top 30 countries:

Archi website access by country

Archi website access by country

Adjusting for duplicates and other factors there seems to have been about 3,000 – 4,000 downloads a month of Archi. The Netherlands (the birthplace of ArchiMate) is top of the list in the countries league, followed by the United States and the UK. Russia comes in at 4th place, and I know for a fact that Archi is really popular there, since it has been translated into Russian.

So, what has Archi ever done for the global uptake of ArchiMate? Or, to put it another way, I wonder how popular ArchiMate would be now if, in a parallel universe, Archi had not existed.

I won’t answer that but I will say this – it’s probably a good idea to keep going with Archi.

What do you think?

Jul 092016
 
 9th July 2016  Posted by at 1:03 pm 5 Responses »

Are you sharing your ArchiMate models and design patterns with the rest of the ArchiMate modelling community? Or are you hiding them in company silos? What are good and useful examples of ArchiMate models currently in circulation? How does one start with the ArchiMate language as a beginner?

Interesting questions. I often get emails from newcomers to the language asking for examples of ArchiMate models, or snippets of models, to repurpose as design patterns of best practice for learning and training, or to use as a starting point in real-world modelling scenarios. What currently exists in the public domain? Well, there are some excellent and helpful blogs and books with examples of ArchiMate modelling patterns, and there’s always the old favourite, Archisurance (which is probably getting a bit long in the tooth now), and maybe some I’ve missed, but I can’t find a whole lot out there.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a place to share ArchiMate models and parts of models, say, in a public repository? And even better if this repository was searchable by keywords and properties, and maybe even showing a thumbnail preview of the diagrams in the model? And perhaps also supporting user ratings and comments? And, of course, the model files should be in The Open Group’s ArchiMate Exchange Format, so one could open them in any ArchiMate tool.

Well, I did take a stab at this some time ago by creating a public GitHub repository for just this purpose:

ArchiMate Models at GitHub

ArchiMate Models at GitHub

 

As you can see, there are only three models there at the moment (and, yes, I included that old chestnut, “Archisurance”), and GitHub doesn’t really support user ratings or comments, but maybe it’s better than nothing, and of course Git and GitHub does support versioning.

Would you like to share and upload ArchiMate models? If you’d like write access to the GitHub repository, contact us. I’m not asking you to share your company secrets by posting confidential model data, but rather to share basic model patterns, anonymised models, or even processes taken from domestic life (feeding the cat was a popular modelling exercise).

GitHub might not be the best place to share ArchiMate models, but it’s a start and, who knows, maybe one day we might have a public “ArchiMateHub” available tuned to this specific task?

Let’s help each other out 🙂

Jun 262016
 
 26th June 2016  Posted by at 11:57 am 2 Responses »

Slightly belated Summer Solstice Greetings! It’s time to provide an update on the latest events and progress from Archi world. These are interesting times we live in, and it’s an interesting time of the year. Hence the title of this update – referring of course to Shakespeare’s play dealing with the themes of confusion, trickery, and dreams. And hopefully, as in the play, after a night of foolery and ambiguity, it all works out in the end.

Archi 3.3.2

I released a maintenance release of Archi, version 3.3.2, at the beginning of June. This contained a few bug fixes and some new features for the Visualiser and HTML reports. Both contributions were provided by Jean-Baptiste Sarrodie, now working for Arismore in Paris, who has over the years proved to be an absolutely amazing supporter for me personally, and tireless evangelist for Archi. As we move forward, J-B’s vision and involvement in the project will prove to be more vital. It was a pleasure to finally meet J-B in London at The Open Group’s event earlier this year.

There was quite a gap between the previous release, version 3.3.1 in October 2015, and 3.3.2 released this month, and the reason for this was to allow the dust to settle on last year’s release of The Open Group’s ArchiMate Exchange Format, and to wait for the official release of ArchiMate 3.0.

ArchiMate 3.0

The latest version of ArchiMate was officially released on June 14th. This is a significant development, as we shall see. I won’t go into all the details of what’s new and what’s changed but it’s as if a new broom has come in and swept up all the bad stuff, and re-arranged all the furniture at the same time, hopefully for the better. There are new concepts, such as Capability, Resource, Course of Action, a new Physical layer, relationships to relationships, and a whole lot more. This is a major update to the language. There’s a summary of what’s new here.

Archi, ArchiMate 3.0 and the future

Archi does not currently support ArchiMate 3.0, only version 2.1. I’m now seeing the same question being asked repeatedly on Twitter, in forums, in webinars, in emails, and in person – “When will Archi support ArchiMate 3.0?”.

As I type this, I’ve stopped to consider my response to this burning issue. There are a number of possible responses and I’m not sure which one to choose. Should I mention the significant amount of work involved in this? Should I ask where I might find the time for such a non-trivial task? Should I question whether I am prepared to work for several weeks, if not months, to single-handedly code, document, test, deploy and support a major new update to a piece of software used by hundreds (although it’s probably thousands) of professional enterprise architects. For free?

Let’s be clear about one thing – since it’s initial release in 2010, Archi has become an extremely popular tool in this domain, and many organisations (and some very major ones, too) use it and depend on it. Archi is downloaded on average about 3,000 times a month. Every month. Archi is a game changer and it is a major contributor, if not the major contributor, to the uptake of ArchiMate globally. This is a significant responsibility for one person. For free?

And let’s be clear about another thing – updating Archi to support ArchiMate 3.0 is not a trivial undertaking. It is not simply a matter of adding a few new concepts, compiling the code and then heading down the pub to celebrate. There are many factors to consider – a whole new refactoring of the code, backward compatibility, documentation, testing, asset management, build processes, and of course providing unpaid support. Typically, this process is managed by a team of employed developers, not one (unpaid) person. Some people have suggested that the work can be done in a weekend, or that their nephew has just learnt Java and will do it for a packet of chewing gum.

This has to change, and I have personally come to a crunch point. To be blunt, either I get funding to continue with Archi or I’ll do something else.

Having said that, there is hope. As Robert Fripp says:

In strange and uncertain times such as those we are living in, sometimes a reasonable person might despair. But hope is unreasonable and love is greater even than this. May we trust the inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse.

Indeed, there is hope. But there are dark clouds, too.

Consider the overall strategy of promoting and supporting the ArchiMate language with an open source implementation and data format. A central plank in this strategy is The Open Group’s ArchiMate Exchange Format. This has proved to be a significant thing, with more and more tools supporting the format, and users discovering further uses for it and realising many benefits of an open data format.

However, the introduction of ArchiMate 3.0 means that a new version of the exchange format needs to be developed, and, indeed, this initiative is ongoing.

But this means that I will need to develop a new implementation of the exchange format in Archi. Archi currently supports the exchange format for ArchiMate 2.1. But, here’s the thing – Archi cannot implement and support a new version of the exchange format if it does not implement ArchiMate 3.0. Obviously, implementation of ArchiMate 3.0 is a pre-requisite for implementation of a new ArchiMate exchange format in Archi.

Furthermore, we need now to recognise that Archi has become an Enterprise in itself. Jean-Baptiste Sarrodie made the compelling case for this with reference to Tom Graves. To use Tom’s definition of an “Enterprise”, Archi has become

a bold endeavour; an emotive or motivational structure, bounded by shared-vision (purpose), shared-values and mutual commitments.

And, to me at least, it’s clear that Archi incorporates a powerful shared vision, and one held by many stakeholders. It is too important to fail.

As I said, there is hope. Hope lies in the fact that funding may have been secured from a benevolent source so that we can proceed with our bold endeavour. On the other hand, the dark clouds that I mentioned are manifesting as opposition to this funding from some not-so-benevolent quarters.

So, please, if you feel that you are part of this “bold endeavour”, speak up and assert your support for Archi. The future is open.

Phil Beauvoir, June 2016

Jun 052016
 
 5th June 2016  Posted by at 11:56 am Comments Off on The Archi Philosophy

Jean-Baptiste Sarrodie and I have been emailing back and forth for some time with some positive ideas and we now agree on what amounts to an “Archi Philosophy”, a set of principles that guide our future development of Archi and associated services. But these principles have already been written about in detail in the book, Rework, so all I can really do is talk about key points that relate to Archi and quote relevant passages from the book that resonate with us. I want to expand upon these principles and where we see Archi going (a.k.a the “roadmap”) in future blog posts, but, for now, regard Rework as our manual of truth and guiding light.

In this post I want to talk about open source and some of these guiding principles.

Archi’s code has a liberal open source licence, the MIT licence. It means that anyone can take the code and build a commercial product based on it. You can build a commercial product from the code, Microsoft can build a commercial product from the code, and your great aunt Edna can build a commercial product from the code. Heck, even I can build a commercial product from the code. So, what’s to stop somebody else from hijacking Archi and making something commercial from it? Actually, nothing. And, in fact, we want this liberal licence to stay in place because many organisations and developers have already built some interesting things based on Archi’s code, and they use it in a commercial setting. Also, the MIT licence is compatible with other licences.

Here’s a relevant passage from Rework that summarises our view:

Decommoditize your product

If you’re successful, people will try to copy what you do. It’s just a fact of life. But there’s a great way to protect yourself from copycats: Make you part of your product or service. Inject what’s unique about the way you think into what you sell. Decommoditize your product. Make it something no one else can offer.

Look at Zappos.com, a billion-dollar online shoe retailer. A pair of sneakers from Zappos is the same as a pair from Foot Locker or any other retailer. But Zappos sets itself apart by injecting CEO Tony Hsieh’s obsession with customer service into everything it does.

It’s unlikely that somebody would sell a product that has the exact same functionality as Archi using the code but, even if they did, here’s the thing:

Make you part of your product or service.

You see, Archi is a way of doing things and this is what sets it apart. So let’s list some of the guiding principles that make my and Jean-Baptiste’s philosophy part of the product:

  • There will always be a free and open source version of Archi
  • Archi is agile, intelligent and lightweight
  • We believe in elegant and simple design
  • We do not ask you for your contact details (but please get in touch!)
  • We believe in “open”, in open standards and in open source, and are therefore open and transparent in what we create
  • We want to build services based on trust
  • We believe in sharing
  • We want to create new ways of doing things
  • We want to make Archi and its services fun

So, if somebody does take the code and tries to sell another product based on Archi, then good luck to them because they ain’t us!

But let’s be perfectly clear about one thing. When we say that “there will always be a free and open source version of Archi” this does not mean that we will necessarily work for free or that we might not develop some paid-for services that would support Archi in the future. ArchiMate 3.0 will be released on June 14th and it’s important that Archi implements it, both for itself, for its thousands of users, and for the sake of The Open Group’s ArchiMate Exchange Format. This work is not trivial and will take a lot of effort, but unfortunately I cannot do this unpaid as I like to eat and pay bills. So we are now seeking sources of funding that would support this development. We are also thinking about how we can generate some form of income that would help sustain Archi for future support and features. Jean-Baptiste and I have some great ideas for Archi, but first we need to implement ArchiMate 3.0. Let’s work together in bringing you some great tools with the Archi Philosophy.

Image courtesy of Jean-Baptiste Sarrodie

Image courtesy of Jean-Baptiste Sarrodie

 

May 312016
 
 31st May 2016  Posted by at 2:49 pm Comments Off on Archi 3.3.2

We’ve just released Archi 3.3.2 which fixes a few bugs and add a Viewpoint and direction filter to the Visualiser, and also tag support for customisable reports. Thanks to Jean-Baptiste Sarrodie for the work on the reports and the Visualiser!

May 162016
 
 16th May 2016  Posted by at 7:48 pm Comments Off on Archi Spotlight – Archi Supports the Government of New Brunswick’s EA Program

In this Archi Spotlight, Peter Gee talks about how he introduced ArchiMate and Archi to the government of New Brunswick in Canada.

Peter, tell us a little about yourself and how this initiative came about.

Several years ago, the Office of the CIO for New Brunswick embarked on an Enterprise Architecture (EA) program. I was brought in as a consultant to help build a Business Architecture framework, which was considered to be an important foundational piece of the EA landscape. While working with them, I introduced ArchiMate as the recommended modeling notation. Since they had no “official” tool in place I also introduced them to Archi as a means to learn the language and start on the development of some Business Architecture models.

How do you find working with Archi?

Archi is very easy to install and much quicker to learn than most of the commercial tools I have worked with. It also had “just enough” functionality to support our modelling needs at the time. Archi’s CSV import/export functionality allowed us to quickly import model content from external sources as well as utilize an export-update-import approach to manage bulk updates to the model. Its support for the Open Group’s ArchiMate Model Exchange File format further guarantees the portability of model files and mitigates the risk of vendor lock-in. Its sole limitation is that it does not support external image files in a diagram.

What is the nature of the project?

The key deliverables for the project included a Business Capability Map which was developed as a hierarchical, nested diagram based on a set of ArchiMate “business function” elements. Since ArchiMate 2.1 does not include a “capability” element, we followed the prevailing practise of using the “business function” element for this purpose. We also used the Jasper Reports module included with Archi to generate a supporting Business Capability Reference document which contained the capability descriptions, as well as other supporting information.

New Brunswick is officially bilingual (English/French) so we were required to publish these deliverables in both official languages. You can view the resulting deliverables in the following links:

English Capability Map / English Capability Reference www.gnb.ca/OCIO
French Capability Map / French Capability Reference www.gnb.ca/BCSI

(the Business Capability Map and Reference Model are accessible via the “Quick Links” section on each page)

What techniques were used to produce these artifacts?

This is a summary of some of the techniques:

  • The Capability Map was created as an ArchiMate view and then the diagram was exported as a PDF file.
  • Pages that include graphics were created using blank Business Canvas pages.
  • The Provincial logo was added to the PDF using the open-source Inkscape graphics editor – https://inkscape.org
  • The Reference document was 100% generated from Archi using a customized set of Jasper control files.
  • The Jasper report was generated in MS Word format in order to fine tune page breaks and add headers and footers.
  • User-defined properties for “French:name” and “French:documentation” were added to the French versions.
  • The model was exported to CSV files, using some Excel tricks to swap the French and English values, and re-imported to Archi before repeating the above steps

Many thanks to Peter Gee for providing us with an insight into how he uses Archi and ArchiMate. It’s interesting to see from the summary of techniques used a specific work-flow emerging when using Archi. This work-flow is valuable in determining possible features in future versions of Archi.

If you’d like to share your story about how you use Archi and ArchiMate and you’d like to be featured in this “Archi Spotlight” series please contact us.