The best EA tool? 2014

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What is the best EA tool? It depends what you mean by best.

There are many Computer-Aided System/Sofware Engineering (CASE) tools.

There are upper CASE tools for system architects, lower CASE tools for software developers, and tools that straddle these two levels.

This paper lists tools mentioned by Avancier customers and adds some comments from a Linkedin discussion.

A list of tools mentioned by Avancier architect class members

The majority of the people on our training courses do not use a CASE tool.

One reason is the cost, which can range anywhere from free to £5,000 per user per year.

Another reason is scepticism about the will and ability of an enterprise to use a CASE tool consistently and keep it up to date.

However, many different tools have been mentioned, with a range of opinions about them.




Typical comment





Software AG

EA and Portfolio management


Free ArchiMate tool



Friendly to ArchiMate and TOGAF


Software AG

Process model oriented



Old upper CASE tool (see Erwin)

Enterprise Architect

Sparx Systems

Cheap, adequate at project level


CA Technologies

Data modelling (rumour of integration w. Casewise)


No Magic

UML modeller, popular with Java developers



Multi-faceted upper CASE tool

MooD Transformation Technology


Management-oriented upper CASE tool

Navigate, Insight and Architect

Troux Technologies

Multi-faceted upper CASE tool


Open Text (ex Metastorm)

Process model oriented

Rational Software Architect


Developer-oriented lower CASE tool

Rational System Architect


Clunky upper CASE tool

Visio + I-Server

Micosoft + Orbus Software

Good for Visio users

Visual Paradigm

Visual Paradigm

Data models and UML, imports Visio


Some experiences and advice from a Linkedin discussion

Amlendu Kumar: Technical Architect

I have used Sparx EA with Zachman Framework plugin.


Örjan Hansson: Senior Management Consultant

I have used Sparx EA for years, but now evaluating Bizzdesign Architect [which looks] a more modern toolset.


Guy Hallam: Data Intelligence Manager

We're using iServer, with a TOGAF framework; it's been a very positive experience.


Andreas Spanner: Enterprise Architect

We’re using iServer and are very happy with it. Here's the process and products we compared it with:


Alex Turner: Senior Business Architect at O2 UK

Check out Troux tools. Start with Navigate, which is not a really a document artefact repository.

The meta model and flexible reporting capability it supports via Troux Insight’s portal enables the creation of many useful visualisations.


Rameshwar Balanagu: Enterprise Application Architect

Troux is good with Insight.

But to drill down and see some of the business process you might need additional tools like Nimbus.


Gus Ferguson: IT Consultant

I am [happily] using ABACUS from Avolution.

Usability a bit like MEGA (c2008). Quicker and easier to get going with than TROUX imo.
ABACUS is a great tool; lots of meta models available (see their web).
A good "fit for purpose" or "just enough, just in time" EA tool; but can do the top down approach if you want that.
ABACUS is an ontology engine on steroids that you can use for EA quickly using their standard meta models.


Nanda Chandrashekariah: Senior Project Manager / Architect

I have used the Rational suite, which is good and works fine if the entire set is brought and linked to each other.

May not be suitable for small organizations.

[The IBM Rational tool suite comprises Team Concert, Doors, Quality Manager, ClearQuest, Software Architect, System Architect, ClearCase, and Developer.]


Lawson Davies: Solution Architecture, Technical Architecture, Security Architecture, Integration Architecture

I like and had good results using Rational tools.

I have a personal licence for Sparx EA and use plug-ins for TOGAF or Zachman.

OK for producing something for people to look at, although a repository of models and a toolset that gets used after my departure is ideal.


Darryl Carr: Solution Architect

I've used Sparx EA a fair bit, but never being particularly happy with it. To me, it looks like a tool built by developers for developers.
I've previously recommended Provision, and investigated other tools including Troux, ARIS, BizzDesign Architect and System Architect.

I've seen a number of presentations on Corso, most of which were focused on road mapping.
If you are using ArchiMate and want a cheap alternative to get used to the idea, have a look at Archi.

I'm current using iServer, which I find works well, and leverages existing skills in Visio well.


Graham Berrisford: Enterprise/Solution Architecture Consultancy and Training

I have heard negative reports of some tools already mentioned.
Different tools are strong in different areas

Are you using it for process models, data models, planning?
Are you using it for EA? solution architecture? software architecture?
What, if any, standard modelling language do you want?
How much do you want to configure the meta model?
How many users of the tool there will be in multi-user mode?
Do you want the repositories of different projects to be integrated?
What support do you want for versioning and change management?


It is one thing to use a tool for solution or project architecture.
Another to build a repository in which entities are related across the enterprise, independent of project scopes.

EA requires breadth of coverage, for integration, reuse and change management.
If you have a strong CMDB you might improve accuracy and breadth via import/export links for a few architectural entity types.
A well-known industry consultancy predicted 5% of organisations would have done that by now; they were wrong of course.

Challenges including getting the level of abstraction right, and justifying the time and cost by making good use of the repository.
I'd like to see reports from people who have built an EA repository and then used it to assist executive decision makers and enterprise-level change management.


Darryl Carr: Solution Architect

Graham's done a great job of summarising the conversation, but I'll reiterate that it depends on what you are going to do with it.

Using iServer, we are building a new repository that will contain project level architectures, using ArchiMate.

This repository contains artefacts that are being harvested to build a complete enterprise view.

We are also intending to use its Visualisation features, as well as its APM capabilities.


Lawson Davies: Solution Architecture, Technical Architecture, Security Architecture, Integration Architecture

[In short, Lawson encouraged sharing of outputs between enterprise and solution architects, and choosing a tool with that in mind.]


Alastair Campbell: Senior Business Consultant
Lots of good advice here. Spend time thinking about it, get demos and trial versions.

It's not easy to move from one tool to another if you find you've made the wrong choice.

Think about uses. E.g. is reporting and visualising architecture transitions important?

Footnote: EA Tools Overview – October 2011

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Published under the Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works Licence 2.0                                      23/08/2016 11:50

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