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SILVERRUN RDM Provides Model Management Solutions for the AGPW

Published
  • September 01 1998, 1:00am EDT

PLATFORMS: SILVERRUN supports Windows 3.x, Windows 95 & NT, Sun Solaris, PowerPC and Macintosh.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The SILVERRUN tool suite covers business process and data modeling. The meta-models and flexible interfaces make these tools useful for information engineering, workflow diagramming and object-oriented design. SILVERRUN offers two data modeling tools: Entity-Relational Expert (ERX) and Relational Data Modeler (RDM) and one business process modeling tool (BPM).

PRODUCT CHARACTERISTICS: The meta-model has four levels of abstraction for describing attributes where some tools have only three. It allows a database's particular data type, such as "number" to be associated with many domains such as "U.S. dollars." A domain can be associated with any number of common items such as "price." Any common item can be associated with any number of columns, (e.g., sale price). Any column must be related to one and only one table, (e.g., lawn mower). Tables can be related to any number of super-tables such as "product" or "asset." SILVERRUN allows for multiple inheritances and is method-independent so these and all other elements are optional. All elements of the repository are extremely useful. Objects in the SILVERRUN repository can appear in any number of ER diagrams or "schemas." The key to any object is a meaningless token. A team working in one model can change meta attributes (even the name) of an object without losing the fact that it is the same object on other models. Teams can use SILVERRUN to automatically propagate changes throughout a hierarchy of schemas or can integrate changes step-by-step. Real-time change management is possible by tailoring the propagation feature. However, step-by- step is used for most integration because control is better. For example, if a second instance is added into a schema, it can be linked to the matching instance in another schema. The repository can be stored on your local hard drive or on a network using a number of databases including Oracle, Informix, Sybase and SQLAnywhere. You can create reports from the databases using SILVERRUN, your own query tool or export data into a variety of formats. Reverse and forward engineering to a variety of databases is supported.

STRENGTHS: RDM is as easy to use as a drawing tool, but the drawn objects are reflections of instances in a comprehensive repository. An ER diagram in SILVERRUN can morph into a variety of notations, supports color, sizing, hiding, fonts, line styles and graphical elements. BPM assists in the creation of data flow diagrams using the familiar notation of processes, external agents, resources, stores and flows as well as supporting process leveling. Like RDM, BPM is very user friendly and can create very usable documents. BPM shares domains, common items and data structures such as reverse-engineered files with RDM. Otherwise, the link between RDM and BPM is weaker than you would expect. Subject matter experts should leave drawing tools aside since BPM is as easy to use yet adds discipline. Analysts will find BPM to be at least an equal to other process modeling tools, but it is not intended to be a code generator or a simulation tool.

WEAKNESSES: The models that are developed in ERX are not integrated to the repository of the other SILVERRUN tools, and so it is not suitable for workgroups. ERX is the weakest link in the SILVERRUN toolset.

SELECTION CRITERIA: SILVERRUN RDM makes any short list for enterprise-wide development because it can handle large models and multiple teams. The single outstanding feature of SILVERRUN RDM is its ease of use.

DELIVERABLES: SILVERRUN's Business Process Modeler (BPM) and Relational Data Modeler (RDM) are complete and reliable. Systems analysts can use these tools to support planning and analysis and the transition to construction. Teams will find the workgroup management and enterprise management to be superior.

VENDOR SUPPORT: SILVERRUN's first- and second-level support is very good. When we had a problem with a plotter, SILVERRUN programmers came on site and developed a patch.

DOCUMENTATION: The SILVERRUN on-line documentation is viewed through your browser and is very adequate. Manuals are also provided.

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