With the rise in rigor for systems engineering, there is one tool that has seen tremendous growth in use. Dassault Systèmes Catia‘s MagicDraw (also known as Cameo System Modeler or Cameo EA) has quite frankly become the default tool for many in the A&D community.
Tools come and go, offerings are always getting better. But, what has made MagicDraw stand apart from other offerings has been, the focus on the user experience and building on the foundational capabilities by leveraging academia and industry research to expand the value of the architecture being built inside of MagicDraw provides.
Many add-ons and plug-ins in use today were a result of research and work done by the Systems Engineering Research Center and its partner universities, INCOSE working groups, and other organizations.
This collaboration with industry, academia, and the SE community has allowed many to focus their attention on this solution.
Tool Flexibility for Product Innovation
As customers begin to require native model formats like .mdzip files and XML files as part of deliverables, we have to begin to ask ourselves if they are good or bad. It is definitely a step in the right direction, but there is a need for flexibility as organizations are building advanced capabilities around their tool of choice that they see provides the most value to them and their customer.
Without this flexibility, innovation will not be fostered. Organizations will not see a need to push the envelope forward on how to deliver more value. The greater issue seems to be knowledge management and being able to stitch these various pieces of information together.
Even if two architectures are built in the same tool with the same modeling language you can still get models that do not assemble. There is a greater need for governance and being able to mandate and validate that governance.
MagicDraw gives that flexibility through the ease of customizing validation rules that can be based on an organization's style as well as language constraints. Other tools although they are able to also provide some level of validation, require a lot more development to enforce customizations.
Whether it is MagicDraw, IBM Rhapsody, Sparx EA, or any new tool that is developed, it is our job as engineers to look into our toolbox and pick the right tool for the job. Each tool has its strengths and weaknesses, but the systems engineers have to put rigor into their day-to-day.
The important thing to remember is that the tool should be working for you and not you for the tool.
About the writer
Dr. Douglas Orellana oversees the development and deployment of new technologies and capabilities to support SAIC’s systems engineering solutions. He and the SAIC digital engineering team are working to transform customers’ enterprises to leverage digital engineering and how they approach problem sets. Before joining SAIC, Douglas worked at Northrop Grumman for 12 years in multiple roles and rose through the ranks to become a systems engineering manager. He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and master’s degree in systems engineering at Johns Hopkins Univ. and a Ph.D. in astronautics and systems architecting and engineering at the Univ. of Southern California.