Visualizing Syndeia Intra-Model Connections | Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we focused entirely on possible visualizations of inter-model connections, i.e. connections created by Syndeia between elements in different tools. But many use-cases require us to trace connections across the system model where the sequences include both inter-model and intra-model connections. Syndeia 3.0 can show many of these, as well.

syndeia-visualization-intra-model-1Figure 1  SysML Intra-model Connections

Consider the SysML model shown in Figure 1. Three activities have allocation dependencies to three blocks. The three blocks have satisfy dependencies to three requirements. Finally, directed composition relationships show that the UAV block uses the other three blocks as parts. All of these relationships are

  • intra-model (they are created and stored inside the SysML modeling tool), and
  • directed (the arrows reflect an asymmetry in the dependence among elements)

In addition, our sample model has a series of inter-model connections

  • SysML blocks are connected to items in a Teamcenter repository
  • SysML activities are connected to Simulink blocks on a local file system
  • SysML requirements are connected to requirements in a DOORS NG repository.

We start our visualization of connections by right-clicking on an element in the SysML browser or the Syndeia dashboard. In Figure 2, we begin with the Platform block. It appears with its three nearest neighbors

  • SysML activity Execute Flight Profile, connected by an incoming dependency (allocation)
  • SysML requirement UAV Platform Specification, connected by an outgoing dependency (satisfy)
  • Teamcenter item revision Platform, connected by an undirected Model Transform connection

syndeia-visualization-intra-model-2Figure 2: Syndeia Local Visualization, Auto-Layout option, both intra-model and inter-model connections to nearest neighbors

What directions of connections to show are selected in the box in the upper right corner; in Figure 2, all directions are to be shown. The starting element is bordered with a red ring, which remains even as the display expands or contracts. The other nodes have green rings, which indicates that they have not been expanded. We can click on them to display the additional connections they participate in.

If we expand the neighboring nodes and rearrange them, as in Figure 3, we show the SysML elements on the left, connected by intra-model dependencies, and the lines connecting them to elements in other tools.


Figure 3: Syndeia Local Visualization, Auto-Layout option, second stage expansion

Note that we are now displaying a continuous chain of connections from a requirement in DOORS NG (lower right) to a Simulink block (upper right) that may be verifying the original requirement, via multiple internal connections in the SysML model. As the individual nodes can be expanded (or not) as the user wishes, we can follow some chains and not others. We can also choose to show only incoming or outgoing intra-model connections, depending on whether we are interested in elements that affect the starting element (outgoing) or are affected by the starting element (incoming). An alternative layout is the Tree Layout graph in Figure 4 that shows the downstream and upstream connections clearly.

Not all intra-model relationships can be seen in the first release of visualization capabilities in Syndeia 3.0. Incoming relationships of the directed composition type, e.g. the UAV-Platform connection in Figure 1, are not shown, for example. 


Figure 4: Syndeia Local Visualization, Tree Layout option, beginning from SysML block Payload

A significant challenge in introducing visualization capabilities like these to complex systems engineering problems is that there are so many possible ways to view the system. Intercax is working closely with our Syndeia customers to identify effective and useful approaches and will incorporate those appropriate in our standard product. Issues like efficient query methods, scalability, speed, and accessibility from multiple positions in the engineering toolset are being addressed. Keep your eye on these blogs to learn about the latest features. In the meantime, request an eval license to try out Syndeia for yourself.

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Dirk Zwemer

Dr. Dirk Zwemer ( is President of InterCAX LLC, Atlanta, GA and holds OCSMP certification as Model Builder - Advanced.