versions_iconVisual Paradigm provides 5 different editions of their highly acclaimed design and management tool; from a free to use community version (for non-commercial use only) right to an Enterprise Edition suitable for extensive Enterprise Architecture.

Although the VP website provides a full overview of the different editions and their versions, I think that a more in-depth guide from a user perspective might be useful.

Introduction

Because I am new to this platform and since this is my first post I figured I’d introduce myself. My name is Peter Looyenga and I’m a professional Visual Paradigm user from the Netherlands. The Visual Paradigm company has asked me if I would be interested in becoming a Visual Paradigm technical writer, and this is the result.

I believe that when it comes to providing support for modeling languages and software design then you won’t find anything as extensive and flexible as Visual Paradigm. So I don’t only write these guides because of an agreement between the Visual Paradigm company and myself, I’m also writing these because I’m a big fan and I really believe in the product and the company behind it.

5 different VP Editions: which one is best for you?

Visual Paradigm is a CASE tool (“Computer Aided Software Engineering”) which provides 5 different editions. Although it is definitely true that a higher tiered license will provide you with a richer feature set, it’s also important to keep in mind that each edition is targeting a specific audience. More can definitely be better, but will more also better for you? That’s what we’re going to explore in this overview.

The Community Edition

Target audience: Enthusiastic UML hobbyists.

The community edition is a freely available (“free as in beer”) version which most notably provides you with full support for UML (“Unified Modeling language”), SysML (“SYStems Modeling Language”) and ERD (“Entity Relation Diagram”). However, keep in mind though that this edition is intended for non-commercial use only. As a result any printouts or image exports which you make will feature a watermark to emphasize on that.

Despite that the community edition provides you with a full fledged UML design tool which also includes support for database design as well.

The Modeler Edition

Target audience: Professional modelers.

The Modeler Edition is the entry level version for professional modeling. It provides all the features of the community edition together with support for BPMN (“Business Process Modeling and Notation”), the Data Flow diagram, the Business model diagram and the textual analysis diagram.

Next it also gives you access to Visual Paradigm Online; a collaboration platform which can be used from within Visual Paradigm itself. It provides a wide variety of features but the most important aspects are:

  • Agile powered project management.
  • Tasifier: a powerful task manager to manage your project activities.
  • Postmania: a collaboration feature which allows you to share your diagrams and invite others to comment on them.

This edition is ideal for people who are interested in basic software design using UML modeling as well as business process modeling through means of BPMN. Also noteworthy is that the Modeler Edition gives you access to the textual analysis diagram which can be an invaluable tool to help you start your projects.

The Standard Edition

Target audience: Professional developers.

The Standard Edition is the version which was designed for developers who want to get the most out of their work. It supports all the features from the previous editions and enhances on these by providing more extensive support for the data modeling process. Some examples of this are project referencing, model to model transformation (in short: the ability to ‘re-use’ model elements), support for adding diagram legends and the ability to provide multiple names for the same model elements, which can be very useful if you need to provide a diagram in multiple languages.

But it can also take your modeling practices into new directions thanks to specific features such as code generation: the ability to generate code based on your current set of diagrams. Or code reversal: now the system will analyze your existing source code and generate UML diagrams based on that. And it can do the same for databases as well.

Another important detail is the extensive support for information processing. Diagrams such as Mind Mapping, RACI charts and user stories allow you to gather and process all the information you need. You could then use the document composer to quickly generate reports based on your current project. And with full synchronization support. And if the 3000+ default templates can’t provide the layout which you desire then it is relatively easy to write your own templates to use.

The Standard Edition is ideal for professional developers who need a CASE tool which can help them with nearly every step within the software design process. From creating functionality designs through means of wireframing to maintaining detailed reports on your progress using the document composer. Save time by letting the system analyze your current source code to generate a basic set of diagrams, or use the STEPS wizards to help you get through the design process and break down your problems into more manageable parts.

The Professional Edition

Target audience: Professional data analysts and developers alike.

The Professional Edition takes information processing within Visual Paradigm to completely new heights and it provides a very specific feature set which will appeal to both data analysts and developers alike. As always this version supports all the features of the previous editions and also expands on those.

Some notable features are Customer Journey Mapping which allows you to fully visualize how your customers experience your product(s) or services while also providing way to reflect on keypoints, impressions as well as options for improvement. Then there’s the ability to add extra (background) information to all your Use Cases which allows you to use that information within other areas of your project, for example within project management powered by either the PERT diagram or Agile (or both of course).

Set up road map diagrams and/or implementation plans, asses the capabilities of your development team through use of the Radar chart, add business rules throughout your project and use a decision table to present complex rules in a way which will be much easier to understand.

There are also various feature enhancements. You can expand your diagrams with on-demand ETL (which stands for ‘Extract, Transform and Load’); this can be used to gather information from any existing model elements in either in the current or any other diagram(s) within your project and then process this information in the ETL table itself. This allows you to (re-)use already available information in completely new ways which can seriously enhance your diagrams yet without compromising any of them.

Another important enhancement is provided by the CMMN diagram (the ‘Case Management Model and Notation’). Sometimes you just can’t fully model the way a business operates using BPMN alone, a possible reason for that can be because BPMN mostly focuses on describing how certain things in your business should be handled. It works perfectly for processes where the outcome slightly varies, but it can become a problem if the outcomes become more unpredictable. In those cases it can help to reflect on those issues on a per-case basis, which is exactly where CMMN comes in.

The Professional Edition is most suitable for data analysts, project managers and developers. It provides an extremely varied tool set which can be used to collect and process any kind of information and present this in the exact way you need it. It doesn’t only allow you to maintain a development and software design project, but also provides you with features which will allow you to manage the entire project and your development team as well.

The Enterprise Edition

Target audience: Enterprise Architects and data analysts.

The Enterprise Edition is a complete Enterprise Architecture suite which supports several Enterprise Architecture (“E.A.”) standards next to all the features of the previously mentioned editions. The most notable E.A. related functions are:

  • ArchiMate 3.0 (Visual Paradigm is Open Group Certified).
  • TOGAF ADM (or: The Open Group Architecture Framework, VP provides the Architecture Development Method).
  • BMM (the ‘Business Motivation Model’).
  • PMBOK (the ‘Project Management Body Of Knowledge’).

What makes Visual Paradigm stand out are its Guide-Through wizards. Visual Paradigm provides an interactive workflow which will guide you through all the required steps for setting up your project. The Guide-Through process is provided for TOGAF ADM, BMM as well as the 5 main steps of project management.

Although the emphasis definitely lies on Enterprise Architecture one should not forget that all features of the previously mentioned editions are fully supported as well. This is important to note because Visual Paradigm provides several unique features which can seriously enhance the way you work.

For example: ArchiMate was designed to provide a more abstract overview of your enterprise. So what if you added a business process to your diagram but you also want to provide a more detailed description of that process? Not a problem for Visual Paradigm: simply assign a so called sub-diagram, for example a BPMN diagram. Your ArchiMate diagram will remain fully compliant with the specifications as set out by the Open Group, but it will also provide a link to the BPMN diagram which will provide a more detailed overview.

It is this specific workflow which makes Visual Paradigm so unique.

Summing up

Visual Paradigm provides 5 different Editions which are all targeted at different groups of modelers and/or software designers. The edition which is best suited for your needs obviously depends on your own specific goals.

If you still have questions about the different versions then why not consider downloading a version for a free 30-day trial? See this webpage for more information. No registration required, so no obligations attached and therefor no risks involved.

And if you still have specific questions which weren’t answered then feel free to contact the Visual Paradigm support (or sales) team here.

Last but not least you can also consider to ask your questions on the Visual Paradigm forum to see if the community might be able to help you out.

Thank you for reading my first post, I hope it helped you to discover a bit more about Visual Paradigm.