Create a Model

Any diagram always has a model beneath it. Whether that model is explicit or implicit, it has a model.

On Dragon1 you can choose to draw static diagrams (graphical schemas) directly, or generate dynamic diagrams based on models.

You can do meta meta modeling, meaning you can create meta models, user models and instance models.

Here we will show you how to build, design or create a fantasy model. And how to draw the entities and relationships that make up a model. A fantasy model is a model that does not relate to any formal modeling language, but it is a great way to learn how to model. Because modeling is more than just drawing shapes on a canvas.

Dragon1 gives you as business professional all the freedom you want, but also tools to restrict, if necessary, that freedom. How? You will learn here!

Learning Objectives

At the end of the lesson, you will be able to:

  • Know what a model is and where you could use models for
  • Creating a model
  • Drag and draw entity shapes on a canvas
  • Draw relationship (links, connections) between entity shapes on a canvas
  • Setup relationships
  • Add shapes as entities to the model and the repository
  • Switch to normal model to see how well entities are linked
  • Test a model on compliancy for a modeling language

What is a Model?

A model is a related set of entities. In the picture (screenshot) below you see a set of related entities. Every line that connects two shapes represents a relationship and every shape represents an entity.

Why create a Model?

The big advantage of a model is that you can communicate with others about something complex. An official definition of a model is: a simplified representation of reality (or the real world) in order to able to communicate about that reality (or the real world). So with a model we simplify reality. You need to leave out things in your model that are not important for the things you are communicating about. Else it would take forever to build that model and you won't have time left communicating with others.

Dragon1 Fantasy Model


Every model should have a title, so this Dragon1 fantasy model is called 'Ordinary Life'. The model shows things many of us encounter daily. The model also shows relationships between entities that tell us something. For instance, constraints or impact of change.

So what does this model tell us? This model tells us that Rabbits and Boats will never meet but that there still is danger for a Rabbit in the Garden because people ride their Bike there. And if the relationships are correct, the Bike and the Rabbit are never taken on a Holiday or put in the Car.

Know this is one of the very strong points of a model. You can create a common insight and overview in seconds at a group of people looking at the model. With the model you can communicate direct and indirect relationships between entities. Depending on the concerns, interests and knowledge of a person looking at the model, that person will interpret differently and make different choices and take different decisions based on the model.

About Creating A Model

Creating a model is not creating a diagram or a big visualization.

In modeling, a shape (or symbol) has a contextual, syntactic and semantic meaning and therefore it is an entity class or entity. It has the meaning that a modeling language or you give it.

By relating entities you create a model. And with a model you create a simplified representation of the world to communicate about it.

For this reason we have chosen that in a model, by default a shape has its name below the shape.

If a shape does not have a title, the name is shown. If a shape does not have a name, nothing is shown. If a shape has a title, the title is shown. Titles are likely to change more often than names.

If you are, for example, going to create a business model, you need to think of products, services, market segments, stakeholders, clients, processes and more. And for all these real world entities, we have shapes you can choose from.

By selecting the shapes and relating them and giving them correct names, you can create your own (business) model.

Create a Model Entity

To create a model entity:

  • Open a cabinet
  • Select a folder
  • Click Insert Model on the button bar (later on you can select a type of model).
  • The New Edit dialog appears. Enter a name for the model.
  • Click OK
  • You now see that the model entity is inserted in the folder of the cabinet (that is how we call the users created Dragon1 repositories).

Drag Shapes onto the Canvas from the Shapes Panel

A model is a set of related entities. So we need to add entities to the canvas.

There are three way to enter entities on the canvas: By dragging from the shapes panel, by dragging from the Explorer Treeview and by inserting from the button bar (Draw Archifact and Draw Entity).

To add entities to the model:

  • Select a model entity in your folder. You now have a model canvas at your disposal.
  • Drag a basic shape, for instance the ellipse (a use case) to the canvas.
  • Depending on your settings, you are now asked if this entity needs to be added to the repository. (You see the entity added in the treeview).
  • Switch the setting in your Default Settings (via My Workplace) and drag a basic shape, for instance the actor and see the difference. (For example, the entity is added automatically in the treeview or not at all). You can setup Dragon1 that best fits your modeling strategy.

Insert Entities via the Drop Down Menu

The second way to insert entities on a model canvas is to use to the drop down menus in the button bar.

To insert entities via the drop down menu:

  • Select a model entity in your folder. You now have a model canvas at your disposal.
  • Insert a shape via the Draw Archifact menu, for instance a stakeholder.
  • Depending on your settings you are asked if the entity should be added to the repository.
  • Insert a shape via the Draw Entity menu, for instance a process.
  • Depending on your settings you are asked if the entity should be added to the repository.
  • You see the entities added in the treeview.

Insert Entities via the Explorer Treeview

The third option to add entities to the model canvas is to drag them from the Explorer treeview to the model canvas.

To insert entities via dragging:

  • Select a model entity in your folder. You now have a model canvas at your disposal.
  • Now select an entity from a folder and drag it to the model canvas (push the mouse button, but do not let go before you have dragged it).
  • Now you see the shape is added onto the canvas.
  • If the entity was already added to the model canvas, it will not be added again (default setting).

Link Entities to Shapes in the Model

We have created a model with entities on a canvas and we have entered entities in the repository (the folders of the cabinet). Now we have to connect the two together.

To link the entities:

  • Select a shape on a model canvas
  • Expand the Shape Attributes TAB in the Inspector
  • Enter an VisualItem ID for the shape
  • Enter an EntityClass for the shape
  • Do a mouse over an entity in a folder to see the tooltip for that entity. It reveals its Entity Class Name and Entity ID (example tooltip: Actor(30100,Actor1,v0)

You are free not to link shapes on the canvas to entities in the repository. If you do link them, you can reuse the data from the entity in views, visual items and visualizations. So it is up to you what you do.

Setting up Relationships

To give a name to a connection:

  • Select a model in the folder
  • Expand the Connection Attributes panel in the Inspector
  • Click on the 3-line symbol (the menu icon) to place the panel at the top
  • Do a mouse over on a Connection
  • Click the black wheel icon
  • Enter text in the field connection text and press TAB
  • You now see text in the Connection on the model
  • Click the Save button to make sure you save your model

Check Setup of Shapes and Entities in the Model

If you want to check how well you have connected and linked the shapes to entities, you need to switch the mode in the playerbar from EDIT to NORMAL or PRESENTATION.

  • If you have not linked a shape to an entity Class, the shape will say "empty class name"
  • If you have not linked a shape to an entity ID, the shape will say "empty entity ID"
  • If you have not linked a shape to a known entity Class, the shape will say "unknown class name"
  • If you have used a different title for the linked entity than for the shape on the canvas the title of the shape will be colored blue and the default popup in Normal Model and Presentation Mode will show the original and changed title
  • If you have linked the shape correctly and did not use a different name, the name will be colored black

In this screenshot you see, for instance, that some shapes are NOT connected to any entity in the repository and that some shapes even do not have and Entity Class Name. So this picture is currently far from a usable model. Dragon1 in this helps you to create a usable model.

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