Removing source control settings from Enterprise Architect

I last used Enterprise Architect by Sparx Systems on 19th of June 2006.  As our architecture was stable since then, there was hardly a need to update the architectural diagrams. And, frankly spoken, Enterprise Architect was not the best product at that time, so everyone was happy in case he needn’t touch it.

We’re now making a major refactoring so I copied the Enterprise Architect model from our old repository to the new location, then opened it. Although I am using version 9.1 now (I started with version 5.0 in 2005), the usability has not significantly improved. The first dialog I saw asked me to remove the read-only flag manually. While I can do that, it would definitely have been an option to provide a button labelled “Remove read-only flag and open”.

We’re simplifying the architecture, so for most parts I should remove existing parts. That should be as easy as pressing the Del key. As a warm-up task to become familiar with EA again, I identified something to remove, selected it and pressed the Del key. Nothing happens. No message, even not a notification in the status bar. What’s wrong?

In the Edit menu, I find my first mistake: items are not deleted using the Del key, they are deleted using Ctrl+D. How could I forget? But unfortunately the menu item is disabled, which means that I cannot delete it.

I remember that we had trouble accidentally modifying diagrams some years ago and there was a way to protect items against modification. That’s confirmed by doing a right-click on the item: there’s a context menu entry labelled “Lock Element…”.

Nothing happens. Wait, notice the text in the status bar, which says:

Current package and contained elements are checked in and may not be edited.

Alright, so there’s the old version control setting included somewhere and I should probably remove it. That should be a project-wide setting, right? EA is almost intuitive in this point. There’s a Version Control submenu of the Project menu. I see that there’s the old configuration. I can select it and press the Delete button. But Enterprise Architect cannot simply remove the version control settings from all those items for you, because it says

This configuration is being used by the following package(s): Building Block View, Runtime View, Concept View, Process View, … and may not be deleted.

Alright, that’s only a list of 16 packages. I should be able to remove version control settings from those packages manually. In the project browser I select one of the views and in its context menu I choose Package Control/Version Control Settings. It turns out that this is exactly the same dialog as on project level. Very confusing. Much like Enterprise Architect in 2005.

Luckily I tried Package Control/Configure… next. This dialog provides a checkbox to enable or disable the checkbox “Control Package”.

I went through all the 5 root views and removed the source control settings. But there need to be 11 more items under source control. How to find them?

There is a keyboard shortcut which expands all nodes of a treeview. And since Enterprise Architect didn’t modify that default behavior, just press the asterisk key to expand all nodes. The nodes under source control all have a yellow key on a dark background. Simply identify those and remove version control settings as well.

Whenever you think you have removed all items, go back to the project menu and try to delete the setting on project level. Finally, I reached my goal: removing source control settings from Enterprise Architect.

No, wait – the original goal was to remove an item from a diagram…

Processing Word documents with DocX

For an association, I had the task to write some Word documents to all members. Unfortunately, the task was a bit more complex than simply writing a circular letter and I decided to automate this task, because it will reoccur once a year.

Of course I started with the built-in Office automation which is part of Visual Studio 2010. However, I ran into deep trouble configuring all the security aspects. I was unable to open documents from a network location, because it is not trusted by default. Next I should have applied code signing in order to make it work. As I don’t have a valid certificate, this was the point in time where I was looking for alternatives.

And I found DocX at Codeplex. It really works like a charm! I didn’t have any security warning to solve, so that I’m confident it will run on other PCs as well without major administration work. It claims to work even on PCs without having Word installed. Second, the API is much more intuitive. You don’t have to deal with Type.Missing parameters and all this stuff. And the task of replacing text is done in one line of code instead of defining a range, executing a find query and then replacing the result.

Of course, DocX does probably not offer all features Word has. But it was definitely the best choice for me at this time to do a simple text replacement task (and some calculations in my code) to get the circular letter ready.

Generating PDFs with PDFSharp

PDFSharp (rev. 2013-01-06) is an open source library for creating PDF documents in any .NET language. I recently used this library because I had a print functionality in an application using the standard PrintDocument class of the Microsoft .NET Framework. The customer now wanted PDF support without the need of installing a PDF printer such as PDFCreator (rev. 2013-01-06), which would have been my first choice of realizing PDF support.

At first, I refactored the existing code with a lot of help of Resharper (rev. 2013-01-06), an invaluable tool for such tasks. The existing code parsed an XML description of what to print and directly sent it to the PrintDocument. I loosened this tight coupling and introduced a strategy pattern (rev. 2013-01-06) for printing to the PrintDocument. In the next step, I wanted to create another strategy for printing to PDFSharp. The step of defining the strategy interface and moving the PrintDocument implemention into the strategy went very well. The old functionality was not broken, so I could move on to the next step, learning about PDFSharp and doing some exercises.

At first glance, PDFSharp seemed to have all the features I needed and which were defined in the XML description: Rectangles and Pens for drawing them, Fonts and methods for drawing text. Of course, a Hello World program was the first to be achieved:

var page = new PdfPage();
page.Orientation = PageOrientation.Portrait;
page.Size = PageSize.A4;
var pdf = new PdfDocument();
var pageGraphics = XGraphics.FromPdfPage(page);
var arial = new XFont("Arial", 12.0);
pageGraphics.DrawString("Hello World", arial, XBrushes.Black, 10, 10, XStringFormats.Default);

This worked very well and looked exactly like typing “Hello World” in Word and saving as PDF. I was glad, everything went smoothly so far.

When implementing the XGraphics.FromPdfPage(…) line, I saw that there was an overload where the units of the page can be specified. It also contains a definition for millimeter, which perfectly fits my needs. The definitions in my XML document are in millimeters and it took a while to implement all the conversions for the PrintDocument, so I was happy, PDFSharp would do all this for me. So I just changed the code to have

var pageGraphics = XGraphics.FromPdfPage(page, XGraphicsUnit.Millimeter);

However, this time, the text was way too big. Actually it looked like the font is now 12 millimeters high instead of 12 point. To check, what mistake I made, I read a bit more in the documentation. It turns out that the parameter of the XFont constructor actually wants to have the font size measured in em, not in pt.

This again means that I should have specified 1.0 em instead of 12.0 pt in my first example and that the output of the initial hello world program was already wrong. A quick check indicates that it was accidentally correct because the default unit is point:
var pageGraphics = XGraphics.FromPdfPage(page);

Well, ok, if this is the only problem to work around, implementation will be about the same effort as for the PrintDocument. But the next problem didn’t wait long to pop up. The XGraphics.DrawString(…) method does not handle line breaks (newlines) as the .NET Graphics.DrawString(…) method does. Instead, PDFSharp will output something like blanks for \r and \n.

This is a little bit trickier to work around. You need an XTextFormatter, a XRect for the region which is available for the layouter and then call DrawString(…) on the formatter instead of the XGraphics object:

var formatter = new XTextFormatter(pageGraphics);
var layoutRectangle = new XRect(10, 10, page.Width, page.Height);
formatter.DrawString("Hello\r\nWorld", arial, XBrushes.Black, layoutRectangle);

This works and is not too complex to understand, but to use it corretcly, the page.Width and page.Height need to be replaced by some calculation which takes the page margins into account.

When implementing above layout mechanism, I saw that the formatter also has some properties which can be set.

var formatter = new XTextFormatter(pageGraphics);
var layoutRectangle = new XRect(10, 10, page.Width, page.Height);
formatter.Font = arial;
formatter.LayoutRectangle = layoutRectangle;
formatter.Text = "Hello\r\nWorld";

Unfortunately, there’s no method to draw the string without arguments, so this is quite useless. I thought it wouldn’t really matter to me, because I have a working solution for multiline strings.

Again, while using the XTextFormatter.DrawString(…) method, I saw that there’s an overload which takes a XStringFormats argument. This comes pretty handy, because I need to center a text as well. A short test should prove it works, before I use it in my code, so I simply added the XStringFormats.Center argument.

formatter.DrawString("Hello\r\nWorld", arial, XBrushes.Black, layoutRectangle, XStringFormats.Center);

I don’t exactly know how people use PDFSharp, but almost everything I try fails – also in this case. The function throws an ArgumentException saying that only TopLeft is implemented.

Implementing a multiline string center functionality is not so simple and it was worth googling for a solution. It quickly turns out that the XStringFormat argument of XTextFormatter.DrawString(…) is not the same thing as the XTextFormatter.Alignment property. Finally, I could use an Alignment of Center and keep the XStringFormat in its default to get centered text.

Well, finally it seems I have just went through all the problems during the Hello World phase. The final implementation of the PDFSharp strategy was completed within three hours.