Tuesday 20 July 2021

IBM Engineering Rhapsody Tip #99 - Making life easier with some proxy port automation

In this short silent video, I wanted to showcase a couple of helpers I wrote for a client. Basically, if you expect people to follow steps that are repeatable, then why not get the computer to do it? (Steve Jobs: I'd rather than a lazy engineer than a good one). I want my Rhapsody modeling to be like my iPhone, in that it just does stuff I expect without me having to think about it. In this video I show a couple of helpers that I did to speed up modeling for a client who wanted to use Proxy Ports. Essentially, I just roll the things that I would do manually into a profile plugin, and Bob's your uncle. The interesting thing about automation is that the more you do, the more ideas to speed things up pop out. Also, the market for SysML has matured a bit hence there are a few more new users, with less training and patience. I want to make it as easy as pie to model, so that they stick to the fun and creative stuff, and are able to demonstrate business value first time, rather than flop around like busy bee's unable to find a flower. 

Here's the transcript for those that need it:

In this silent video I thought I'd share a snippet of some automation I've been writing to make it easier for a client to model with Proxy Ports in Rhapsody.

The first bit here, is to speed up creation. Since, I know modeler is expected to use proxy ports, I detect the add new for part->part connector, and create proxy ports automatically. My plugin also creates the interface block that will define the contract. The 'opposite port' has the fiddly stuff done, e.g., the conjugated flag is set.

Now we can define what is exchanged via the InterfaceBlock. This is usually done by creating an interaction model, i.e., using sequence diagrams. This is an event (asynchronous signal) from the Operator to the system. I'm using a condition mark here to imply the state of the Block, i.e. I'm inferring states for the subsystems and, importantly, the signals sent between the subsystems via the proxy ports.

In "Analysis" mode, operations/events in sequence diagrams are not created automatically in the browser, meaning that it's easy to change event names. This is standard behavior in Rhapsody. There is a separate "Realization" step that you perform once the sequence is finalized. The final piece of "speed up" automation I wanted to show, is a helper that no-only realizes the events/operations, but also updates the ports and interfaces.

This is similar to a really useful helper provided by the Harmony/SE toolkit, but I've added a user interface. Still some work to do but the aim is to always explain what you're going to do, before doing it, as this helps with training people in what is going to happen.

As well as realizing the operations and adding events and event receptions to the Blocks, it has updated the Interface Block. As the rest of this video shows, I can go on to create statecharts and build an animating model of them.

Ultimately, with "speed up" helpers like the ones I've shown, we can accelerate your modeling process and engineers can focus on the creative and fun stuff.

In lieu of TrustPilot, some recent training feedback

I don't really have the volume of deliveries or business to live in the world of trust pilot. However, I do appreciate that it's good to have real feedback from real people.

As such, I thought I'd share some feedback from recent 3 day Rhapsody trainings in the last 2 months. In the following survey, 5 = strongly agree and 1 = strongly disagree.

What did you like most about the training?

  • The labs really helped enforce the theory and brought the material full circle.
  • It's a new tool for me that can capture big picture ideas and decompose to manageable chunks.
  • Labs are great. Good examples.
  • Instructor & the labs
  • Flexibility to demonstrate tasks on demand, make it easy in this environment.
  • Lots of tips and short cuts for action users 
  • I had no prior knowledge regarding Rhapsody however leaving the training I feel like I'm able to perform task via Rhapsody. The trainer was also very knowledgeable and kept the participants engaged. 
This week, I'm moving on to Version 12 of my material. I've added a simplified DOORS NG with Rhapsody half-day workshop which can be optionally used to finish things off with a fun "from scratch" example. I've also added even more differentiation to the labs to give me more options based on whether participants are experts who use Rhapsody a lot, or new to SysML/Rhapsody, so that I don't scare people with too much information, if I can help it.

Saturday 3 July 2021

IBM Engineering Rhapsody Tip #98 - Debugging user Java plugins running in Rhapsody

When you write a lot of add-ons for IBM Rhapsody, it becomes very helpful to be able to debug them. This can be a little more difficult when they're running inside the Rhapsody processes, rather than as an external Java application. There are lots of reasons for running in process though, not least because they run an order of magnitude faster, and you can tie them to a profile that adds things like menu commands and properties to control it. In this video I show how it's possible to debug them as remote java applications enabling you to set breakpoints and step through the code in Eclipse, even though the code is running in Rhapsody. You first need to add some changes to your Rhapsody ini file though. The video illustrates. Hopefully, it helps someone out there. p.s. This is a real life example.

Here's the transcript for those that need it:

This video demonstrates how it's possible to debug user-written Java plugins running in the Rhapsody process using Eclipse. 

Java add-ons for Rhapsody can be written to run as applications outside of Rhapsody, or as plugins running in the Rhapsody process (as here). Plugins can be loaded by a profile. 

A certain amount of debugging can be done using instrumentation. It doesn't always work though. In this case, I'm expecting my plugin listener to detect the event and automatically move it into an 'interfaces' package.

To determine what is happening, I want to use the Eclipse debugger to set breakpoints and step through the plugin as it runs inside of Rhapsody.

It's possible to do this by first adding some JVM settings to the rhapsody.ini file. As Rhapsody reads/writes the .ini file, always create a backup and make sure Rhapsody is closed before editing.

The JVM section is where the Java Virtual Machine that Rhapsody will use is specified.

I've added the Debug1, Debug2 and Debug3 options to my .ini file before, hence I just need to include them in Options list for the JVM.


Now when I run Rhapsody and an attempt is made to load a plugin into the Rhapsody JVM, it will wait for a remote debug connection.

To get the Eclipse debugger to connect we need to run a Remote Java Application configuration and change the port number for the Remote Java Application to 6743.

Voilà, the debugger connects with the waiting plugin running in the Rhapsody JVM.

It's now possible to run the application as normal, but set breakpoints in the plugin code. E.g., I'll set a breakpoint in the Java plugin.

That's strange...

To reload the plugin code, I need to exit Rhapsody not just close the project.

Doh!! (an unnecessary space, but I can fix it)

Hope that helps. Interested in MBSE/UML or Rhapsody training or customizations then email me.