All posts by Francois Du Toit

Runnning a report – a guide for ARIS beginners

I recently had to enable a new team on ARIS for a project. One of the initial questions was how to run a report on their models, so here goes.

Context

To run a report on ARIS, you have to consider the context of the script. This means that you have to know what to run the report on. ARIS reports can be run from the Database, Groups (folders), Models or Objects. Administrators can run reports on Users and filters too. The ARIS report scripts that is enabled for the selected context only is shown. In other words if your context (selected content) is an EPC model you will only see reports that is available for EPC models or all model types and if your context is a Function object you will only see the reports that is available for Function objects or all object types. These settings are set by the developer of the report to make the report safer to run.

Running a report

startReport To run a report, select the correct context then right-click on it -> Evaluate -> Start report. You can also use the ribbon toolbar, by going to the Evaluate tab and selecting the “Run report ” button. runReport

 

 

Choose the script category -> and then the report you want to run.
choose cat and report

 

 

 

 

 

optionsSelect the output settings required for the report. Taking note of the output location and the output format.  

 

General information

All scripts are different, and may or may not contain pop-up options while the script is being run. Read the instructions carefully for the current report execution.

The report output should open automatically, but in the event it does not, look for the output in the specified folder in the output options. Be mindful that some report scripts are used as utilities and updates the ARIS content instead of producing a report, these should always be used with care and not used if not understood as any changes can not be undone.

The same procedure can be used to run Macros, just choose the correct options when you start on your context. Choose “Run Macro” instead.

Good luck, please post comments if you feel I missed something or to request a new topic.

Creating a new user on ARIS 9

You can create new users on ARIS 9 using the User Management Console (UMC). To access the UMC, go to your server name:port/umc in any browser. You should always be able to access the um on the server by using http://localhost(:port)/umc, you only need to include the port if you did not use the default port 80.

Users
Users on UMC

Once there you can go to the user administration tab. On this tab you can create, edit and remove users and user groups from the UMC.

 

Create User
Create User

To add a user click on the newuser button on the top right corner. This will ask you to assign a username and identify the user with other details.

 

 

 

Edit User
Edit User

After the user has been created, you can edit his details, assign the user to user groups, assign function and license privileges, see attributes and active sessions of this user.

 

 

 

Assign user licenses
Assign user licenses

I prefer using user groups to define the access for multiple users, but it is not a requirement for users to belong to a user group. The last important thing to do to enable the user to log onto the system is to provide him with a license. Under the privileges tab, you will find two more sub-tabs called Function privileges and License privileges. Use the License privileges section to assign the applicable license to the user.

Here you can choose from licenses that were loaded onto the server during installation or loaded after. If you do not see your license you will need to load the licenses on the server. This will be discussed at a later stage.
You assign a license to the user by clicking on the checkboxes in the “Granted” column next to the relevant license you would like to assign. Once you have made the selection, the changes have already been saved and you can exit back to the user list or exit the UMC.

Users on ARIS
Users on ARIS

The last step you will need to do is to assign access privileges, the way to go about that is more familiar, you open an administration tab and log onto the target database. Under the Users section you will find that all users on the UMC will be listed.

ARIS user access rights
ARIS user access rights

Here you can go into the user’s properties and assign the required access privileges for the user. You can select a higher level group (folder), select the privileges required. You can also assign the same access to all the sub-groups by clicking on the “Pass on privileges” button.

Other settings that can be changed at this point are the allowed Method filter, Function privileges and User group association.

I hope these instructions are as easy as it is to create new users.

I am not affiliated with Software AG. ARIS is a trademark of Software AG.

Getting started with ARIS 9 the design side

Getting started with ARIS 9 client is an easy exercise for those of us that have used ARIS before. The basic concepts remain the same and the new interface is easy to get around if you are familiar with tab based browsing, MS Office applications with “tabbed toolbars” or other such applications. This article might be interesting for most ARIS users, but are written with the new users in mind…

Something to consider when starting out with ARIS is the reason companies want to use ARIS in the first place. Most people think it is to have all their models in the same repository, though that is important, more important reasons should be re-usability and standardization.

Re-usability
When we re-use objects in ARIS, we are in essence enriching existing information. The first thing we gain is the fact that we do not need to define the same artifact more than once, and the other benefit is that when you update an object anywhere, it will be updated everywhere it has been used. The other major benefit is that it enables a wide range of impact analysis that would otherwise be very hard to achieve. As an example, using the same application system in different processes, the IT department can ascertain which areas will be impacted if a system is going to be replaced, which processes are impacted and which process owners need to be informed if a system failed.  Another example is that we can ascertain which users are using a specific system in which processes and enable the system access or authorizations based on the planned usage of the system. ARIS for SAP uses this principle in the Blueprint phase of SAP implementations. In ARIS re-usability comes standard, but only if the modelers understand what it is and why they should use it. I find that even when ARIS asks you if you would like to use an existing definition, most people choose not to. I guess this comes with not understanding the why or uncertainty if the object suggested is the correct one to use. Unfortunately this can only be fixed by guidance and training.

Standardization
Standardization is necessary for we can only realize specific benefits if everyone is talking the same language. It is important to understand what a specific level of information means and why. It also happens that a “level 3” in Business Architecture means something totally different in Systems Architecture. Most of the communication gaps start when there are no clear definitions between Business and IT. I would suggest doing away with Level 1-x and rather use names for each level, if everyone is talking about an “activity” rather than “level 4 or 5”, no-one in the room can misinterpret the meaning, and if someone asks what an activity means, you can give them a clear definition. This also helps if the people in the room are from different vendors, or areas within the business. When we have a standard way of documenting process, we always talk the same language. If we look at a process model, we always understand it the same way. All process reports, traceability reports and quality assurance reports work on all models.

Standardization in contrast to re-usability needs to be designed, implemented and documented for others to use. This should also be done before any work is started so that everyone understands what to do, how to do it and no “garbage” is created in the first place. ARIS enables the management of what is available to users in the form of filters that can be applied on a database when a user logs on. Filters allow only selected Model types, Object types, Symbols and attributes as defined by the ARIS administrators. We normally refer to the filter combined with the documentation on how to model whatever scenario we want the modelers to model the “Method” or “Methodology”. I found that allowing less in the beginning is easier to manage and adding other requirements as they come along. It’s easier to add than it is to remove something later… I also believe not all requirements MUST be included just because someone wants a certain piece of information included. It is hard, but sometimes we need to say no if it does not align to your Business Architecture, standards approach and planned usage of the tool.

Getting Started
If you are just starting out on your ARIS journey, I would suggest engaging with an experienced consultancy house to help you define the first version of the method. You need some insight into your journey and the way ARIS is structured. We normally plan 1-2 months for this, depending on your companies’ maturity. It has been done in 2 weeks, but is not recommended. Luckily in ARIS 9 we can now add model types and relationships that does not exist in the existing or standard method, so it should be simpler to implement a specific non standard view than in the past.

To get started you need to do the following (all of these activities is done on the ARIS Architect, unless stated otherwise):

  1. Get ARIS installed on your server (no client, server install).
  2. Load and configure all the users on the system (using User Management Console (UMC)).
  3. Define user groups (using UMC).
  4. Connect and configure all the client machines (Use the browser to connect, then configure the client if necessary).
  5. Import backups of old filters (only if you were a previous ARIS user).
  6. Import backups of old databases (only if you were a previous ARIS user).
  7. Create the required databases.
  8. Configure the filters to be used.
  9. Define access for all the user groups\users on the databases.
  10. Create the base folder structure and library models.
  11. Train your users and get started.

The next thing you should start looking at is managing the benefits that your Business Process Management (BPM), Enterprise Architecture (EA), System Development Lifecycle (SDLC) or whatever else your focus is, should deliver to your business. To do this, you will need to have good report scripts to showcase the information and value that you have built into the ARIS repository, publish the process content for transparency, proactively support business units/projects to deliver on requirements and generate deliverables. We can discuss this in more detail in a next discussion.

Standards
You should also consider aligning to world-wide standards when deciding on which frameworks and model types you should be using. This will reduce costs on training where users have been trained on some of these standards and you can find more support for standards than being on your own path.

Frameworks (these and more can be found online):

  • TOGAF
  • Archimate
  • UML
  • The Zachmann Framework
  • DoDAF

Model types (by no means extensive):

  • Value Added Chain Diagrams
  • BPMN
  • EPC
  • Function Allocation Diagrams
  • Application system type diagrams
  • UML model types

What you choose to use would depend on your requirements and your ultimate goal using ARIS.

I am in no way associated with Software AG. ARIS is a trademark of Software AG.

Getting started with ARIS 9 – the server side of life

Getting started with ARIS 9 can seem quite daunting at first, especially if you have been using ARIS before version 9. The first thing that most people struggle with is the cloud based release. Even though it runs on your in-house server or LOCAL instance, the architecture of the software is still based on cloud architectures.

1. System Requirements
One of the first questions is if you really need 64 GB RAM and 8 CPU cores… The simple answer is no, but to elaborate – you do need slightly more than what you use to have in the past. The cloud enablement requires the server to run multiple smaller components that work together to enable the server. This is where the cloud controller steps forth. I would suggest 2-4 cores with 8GB RAM. Using virtual servers, you can always give it a bit more. The administrators can monitor the server and “manage” the resources by allocating more or less as you go on.

2. Database systems
You can configure the server to use Postgres, MS SQL or Oracle database environments. The database environments can be loaded on the same server, or on a central database server, depending on the standards used in your corporation. The Postgres solution comes as the default database system, and is rated to support 1-50 users; if you would like to support more users, you will have to use one of the other systems. I found that MS SQL is easier to configure than Oracle, I am no DBA and rely on the inhouse DBA to configure the system, and that might have been the real issue… The postgres system can be loaded at install time, and no configuration is required for it. The installation procedure and other options are all described in the Installation and administration guide shipped with the software.

3. Services and runnables
After you have installed the new ARIS Design/Connect Server (while taking note of the application port), you can start up the service like you normally would, but it is definitely not “normal” for users with previous experience…The service only starts the server agent and enables the cloud administrator. After the service started, you can load the cloud controller where you can “manage” all of the smaller components required for the server to operate. To launch the Cloud Controller go to the Start Menu -> All programs -> ARIS -> Administration -> ARIS Cloud Controller. Enter the command “list” where you will then see all of the “runnables” required to start. You can then start the runnables individually, or you can run the command “startall” to load all of the services in sequence (some services have dependencies). I would always recommend this, unless you want to stop and start a specific service. After the “startall” command you can run the “list” command again to ensure that all the services have started successfully.

4. UMC
You are now ready to access the User Management Console (a.k.a. UMC). While on the server you can have a look at: http://<hostname>:<port>/umc. Tip – if you haven’t changed the port during installation, you only have to type http://<hostname>/umc. You can also access the UMC from a client machine by going to http://servername:port/umc.

login
ARIS 9 UMC Login

There you will be confronted with the login for the UMC. You can log on with the default superuser credentials (superuser/superuser) which can be changed for security purposes. In the UMC you will find sections for license management, server settings and of course user management.

config
ARIS 9 Configuration

I suggest you start with the settings and ensure that all the settings are satisfactory.  You can also configure single sign-on at this point using LDAP settings.

 

licenseman
ARIS 9 License Management

From here you can have a look at the licenses that are loaded  on the server under the license module. The licenses you have loaded at install time are shown, if you haven’t loaded them on installation you can import the complete zip file using the import button in the top-right corner.import The server will then load all the available licenses at this point. If you received more than one license file, you can load the rest all of them into the server (even the publisher license need to be loaded). The server will then list all of the licenses you have.

userman
ARIS 9 User Management

Loading the user management module shows the default users that have been loaded onto the server. If you have configured LDAP, you can load the configured users from your LDAP system into ARIS. You can also load the users manually if required. When you load a database from version 7.2 (apparently only databases from version 7.2 can be used) the server will also load the existing database users into UMC. From here you can edit users, assign user groups, set and reset passwords, maintain user data, manage the users function privileges and assign licenses to the users. A user would not be able to access ARIS without a license assigned to him/her.

5. Access to client software

prodsel
ARIS 9 Product Selection

When you have finished configuring the server and the users, you can access the client applications by going to http://<hostname>:<port> on the server. It would be best at this point to rather use a client PC to access the server by going to http://<hostname>:<port>/umc. You will require a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) to load the client software. We will deal with getting started with the new clients in the next article.

Disclaimer: ARIS is a registered trademark of Software AG. The author does not have any affiliation with the vendor.

How you can load an ARIS script on ARIS 9.x without technical know-how

Administration tabLoading ARIS scripts in ARIS 9 will require an ARIS Architect client license. Once you have loaded the client (and configured the user’s license), you will need to open an “Administration
” tab.

New CategoryIn the administration tab you can navigate to the “Evaluations\Reports” section. You will find all of the report categories that are currently available under reports. You can view the report categories as a collection of reports that may fall under the same category or type of report. You can also create your own categories by right-clicking on the main category and to choose “New category” from the selection options.

Import ScriptBy right-clicking on the category you can create a new report with the Report wizard, or alternatively write a custom javascript to create the required report. You can also import a backed up script file when you choose the “Import” option. This will alow you to browse to where the .arx file is saved.

Once you have created/imported the report script you will be able to run it on the content intended for that script.  The script is configured to run on a type of content or a specific one within the type. Scripts can be run on the following types of content:

  • Filters
  • Database
  • Group
  • Model (or selected model types)
  • Object (or selected object types)

The report script will also be configured to enable specific output file types. They can be:

  • Rich Text Format
  • Word (docx or doc)
  • Open Document Text
  • PDF
  • HTML
  • Txt
  • Excel
  • XML

It often happens that once scripts have been loaded that people do not find the report on the selected content, or that they are not aware of what content the script needs to be run on. That is why it’s important for you to be aware of the context of any report to be able to use it.

Should you upgrade to ARIS 9?

A few of my clients have recently started looking at ARIS 9. They almost always come back to me asking if they should upgrade at all. This is somewhat surprising seeing all the great new features of ARIS Connect, but looking at the tool without ARIS connect what do you get besides a new look and feel?

After looking at the new version, I came to the following conclusion: Yes you should upgrade and here’s why.

Aside from the obvious that it is a new version and you most likely already pay maintenance, you should consider that version 7 will be de-supported at some point in the near future.

Instead I would like to consider the positive points of ARIS 9:

  • You can do ad-hoc analyses of your data and their relationships with other objects. You can go across multiple levels of relationships for the whole database, based on the selected object types. You can even filter the output based on specified criteria. All of this is shown visually and the query can be saved for private or public use.
  • You can now create Spreadsheet models that can be used to represent your ARIS data on whole new ways. This includes maintaining your attributes in this fashion.
  • ARIS 9 has an open meta model. You can now create your own model types, objects and connections that was not previously available. You can even edit the models currently in use, and add those relationships that has always eluded us.
  • ARIS 9 was built on Cloud technology and can be hosted offsite on cloud if required.
  • Single user management. Gone are the days where you have to duplicate users and passwords across databases. You can now maintain your users at one point and the changes are valid for all the databases on the server. You still need to manage the user’s access rights per database using an Architect client.
  • License management is now also built into the user management. Licenses can be loaded onto the server and assigned to specific users. You can assign multiple licenses to one person. This also applies to the add-on licenses.
  • You can now log on using customised “views”. The view used determines how much of the functionality is active on the client when loaded. You can use or enable a “View” access, where the object symbols won’t appear to the user. The “Modeller” view allows modelling, while the “Administration” view shows the configuration and scripting modules too.
  • The report scripts used in ARIS 7 will still work. The best thing is to fully re-test all of your reports in 9.

There are more things that have improved, but also some changes not everyone will like. The point is change is inevitable and it would be better to embrace the changes rather than try to fight them off all the time. Ultimately the changes made are for the better, and I found a few “a-ha” and “finally” moments where I found enhancements that has always been “missing” on the old versions.

As with many new releases there might be some bugs that will need to be ironed out in the coming months, and depending on the severity, it does seem like Software AG will fix them as soon as possible.

The net result is that it does look like its worth upgrading to the new version, even if you do not buy into the new tools available like ARIS Connect.

At the time of writing, the latest version of ARIS is 9.6. This blog is not affiliated with Software AG and the views and opinions are my own.

How to change multiple ARIS object’s attributes to a specified value

One of my clients recently asked me how to set an attribute for around a 150 objects to the same value. In this case it was a drop-down list value. Both of us have a long history with ARIS, so our first thoughts went to try using the process generator(PG), but for some reason the PG did not want to work. We assumed that it is because of the Excel version he used.

After about a week, one of my colleagues reminded me about the built in Attribute Wizard in ARIS. By selecting the objects you want to update, you can right-click on the objects and choose Attribute Wizard from the menu. The wizard steps you through some options and in the end updates your object attributes with the value specified.

Attribute Wizard

 

Attribute Wizard act

We both felt a bit silly afterwards and even though a very simple solution was available, we forgot about it, so I hope by writing this it will help someone else too.

How to automate ARIS database backups

Today we will look at automating the backups on ARIS with step by step instructions as well as a Windows batch file to run the task on a scheduled basis.

The backup scripts available  will create a new folder in the backup folder with today’s date. All of the backups will then be placed in the date folder. This way you can have backups for every day without having to overwrite the previous day’s backup.

The instructions provided will work for ARIS 7 and ARIS 9. There are a few differences between the two that we will highlight.

Steps to follow:

  1. Copy the batch file to the correct folder.
  2. Configure the batch file to fit your environment and settings.
  3. Configure the Windows scheduler to automate the running of the batch file.

Requirements:

  • Access to the ARIS server
  • Basic batch file knowledge

To start off, you need to answer these questions:

  1. What is the server name?
  2. Where should the backups be saved? This location on the server or shared drive needs to be created before using the backup script.
  3. What port is configured for the server? (ARIS 9 only)
  4. The tenant? (ARIS 9 Only) – normally “default”
  5. Username and password to use. (ARIS 9 only)

Useful information:

Location for the batch file:

  • ARIS 9:
    [ARIS Install folder]\ARIS9.5\tools\ArisAdm
    Exe: arisadm90.exe
  • ARIS 7:
    [ARIS Install folder]\ARIS7.2\JavaClient
    Exe: ArisAdm72.exe

Step 1: Copy the batch file to the appropriate folder

Download and unzip the batch files and copy the batch file for your ARIS version to the correct folder as shown above.

Download here (registration required)

Step 2: Configure the batch file to fit your environment and settings

Depending on your ARIS version you will need to configure the batch file with the information provided in the answers to the questions above. The date will be set using the format configured on the Windows settings. You can override the format by using the examples provided in the batch file (you will need basic Batch file skills).

Edit the .bat file using a text editor like Notepad. Insert the values for your server environment in the section
======CHANGE THESE SETTINGS======

After changing the settings I recommend that you test your settings by running the batch file in the command prompt so that you can see the output and any possible error message it might have.

Step 3: Configure the Windows scheduler to automate the running of the batch file

You can then add the batch file to the Windows Task Scheduler at the required interval.