[Enterprise Architect] #5. Layout Ribbon

In this post, I would like to explain the options in Layout Ribbon.

This image shows the Layout Ribbon in Enterprise Architect.

Layout Ribbon is used to create high-quality diagrams by aligning elements and sections of a model. The appearance of the diagram can be completely changed by adding borders, fills, and text colors, making it attractive for information visualization. Use the diagram’s filters and layers and layout tools to automatically change the appearance of your diagram, and configure swimlanes and roadmaps to add richness to your presentation. You can apply filters to hide elements that don’t meet certain conditions, and use various helpers to help you adjust elements.

Design Ribbon consists of Diagram, Style, Alignment, Tools, Filter, Helpers, and Auto Refresh panels.

Here’s a summary of the main features of each panel:

PanelDescription
DiagramA collection of tools for using diagrams and manipulating the appearance and presentation of elements.
StyleApply various styles to elements in the diagram to emphasize importance or relevance, and copy and save styles individually.
AlignmentTool for adjusting the relative positions of diagram elements, allowing vertical/horizontal alignment and visual stacking.
ToolsTools for positioning, viewing, and filtering elements within diagrams, and support for working with large or detailed diagrams.
FilterAbility to filter and highlight specific elements in a diagram and show only important elements.
HelpersProvide special tools to save time, preserve layout, and improve visualization when working with diagrams.
Auto RefreshAuto-refresh function for collaborative diagram design, enhanced support for multi-user input.

1. Show formatting options toolbar

  • You can temporarily display the formatting options toolbar for elements or connectors in a diagram.
  • Click the ‘Paint Brush’ icon for an element, or if multiple elements are selected, click the corresponding icon.
  • When you right-click on a connector, a toolbar appears above the context menu.

2. Global appearance settings for the entire model

  • Use the ‘Preferences’ dialog to set the global appearance of all elements.
  • After selecting the ‘Start > Appearance > Preference’ option, select ‘Diagram | Standard Colors’ and ‘Diagrams | Select ‘Appearance’.

3. Override global appearance and set default appearance

  • To override the global appearance and define a default appearance for a specific element or multiple selected elements, right-click on the element and select ‘Appearance | Select ‘Basic Appearance’.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the options each panel provides.


The Diagram panel provides a set of tools for managing the use of diagrams and manipulating the appearance and presentation of diagram elements.

FunctionDetail of Function
SaveSaves current changes.
UndoUndoes the last unsaved and unreverted changes applied to the diagram.
RedoResets last undo and unsaved changes to diagrams.
AppearanceClicking the drop-down arrow will display a list of options to set the appearance of the current diagram.

1. Standard Mode: Selected by default to apply normal diagram rendering. Switchable from ‘hand drawing’ or ‘whiteboard’ mode to normal display.

2. Hand-drawn mode: Displays the diagram in ‘hand-drawn’ style.

3. Whiteboard mode: Displays the diagram in ‘whiteboard’ style.

4. Theme and appearance options: Set the theme and appearance of the diagram via the ‘Preferences’ dialog.

5. Hide Page Borders: Hide printable page border lines for all diagrams. You can select to display it again if necessary.

6. Show diagram property notes: Show diagram property notes on the current diagram.

7. Visible Relationship Settings: Allows you to select relationship connectors to show or hide in the current diagram.

8. Status color display: Display status color on status-applied elements in all diagrams. Selectable display in default color.

9. Configure status colors: Set status type and color via the ‘General Type’ dialog.

10. Reset Local Element Appearance: Reset the fill, line, font color and line width of selected or all elements to default settings in local settings.

11. Reset Default Element Appearance: Resets the fill, font, line color and line width of selected or all elements to the default values of the ‘Standard Colors’ page. Update all relevant diagrams in the model.

12. Set local appearance to default: Resets the fill, font and line color and line width of selected or all elements to local settings. Color can be changed according to diagram.
SelectThese are the options used to select, copy, and paste elements in the current diagram.

1. Select all elements: Select all elements in the diagram.

2. Select elements by type: Specify a specific type and, if necessary, a stereotype to select all elements of that type.

3. Copy selected elements: Copies all selected elements to the clipboard.

4. Deselect Current Selection: Deselects all selected elements in the diagram.

5. Make all elements selectable: Makes all elements in the current diagram selectable, allowing them to be moved and manipulated. To make an element unselectable, right-click it and select the ‘Unselectable’ option.

6. Paste as Reference: Pastes an element from the clipboard into the diagram as a link to the original element (an element copied from another diagram).

7. Paste as new element: Pastes the element from the clipboard into the diagram as a new element, and you can change the name of the new element in the ‘Paste as new element’ dialog box.

8. Paste as Element Image: Pastes a single image of the element(s) copied from the clipboard and the connectors between them into the current diagram. The image is contained within the system boundary, and element images cannot be selected or moved within the boundary.

9. Autosize Selected Elements: Returns the selected element(s) to the default size for that element type or the minimum size that allows the element content to be displayed. Resizing works from the center of the element, eliminating the need to reorganize the diagram layout.
SwimlanesDivide the currently open diagram into logical regions or partitions using the ‘Swimlanes and Matrix’ dialog.
RoadmapUse the ‘Roadmap Options’ dialog to convert the currently open diagram into a roadmap with a time scale.
ZoomThis zoom option provides various zoom settings that you can apply to your diagram. Settable zoom levels include ‘Clear’, ‘50%’, ‘60%’, ‘75%’, ‘80%’, ‘100%’, ‘150%’, and ‘200%’. If you select a zoom level here, that zoom level will be maintained even if you close and reopen the diagram. The ‘Clear’ option resets the diagram’s zoom level to the default, i.e. the zoom level at which the diagram was created. This option only affects diagrams that have the ‘Default Zoom’ setting set to a value other than ‘None’ on the ‘Start > Appearance > Preferences > Preferences > Diagrams > Appearance’ page.


The Styles panel provides tools for applying various styles to elements and connectors in your diagram. This allows you to customize the color and style of the font, fill, border, and line of elements and connectors. These settings can be individually copied to other elements and connectors, or grouped and saved as reusable styles.

FunctionDetail of Function
Style ListClick the Style List drop-down arrow to select an existing style to apply to selected objects in the diagram.
Save StyleSave the style of selected objects with a new name, save with an existing name, refresh the style list, or delete the current style.
Import StyleCopy the style of the currently selected object and immediately apply it to other objects.
Apply StyleApply the copied style to the currently selected object using the ‘Import Style’ icon.
Font settingsSet the text font, style, size, and effect for the selected element.
Text ColorChoose from a variety of colors to display the text of the selected element.
Fill ColorChoose from a variety of colors to set as the fill color for selected elements.
Line ColorChoose from a variety of colors to set as the border of selected elements or the line color of selected connectors.
Line WidthSets the selected element border or connector line width from a minimum of 1 to a maximum of 5.


The Align panel provides tools for adjusting the relative positions of diagram elements, including aligning elements vertically or horizontally, visually moving elements forward or backward, and aligning elements and connectors with the grid.

Most of the options in this panel are available when two or more elements are selected together (press Ctrl or Shift when clicking the elements). Typically, the last element selected becomes the element by which other elements are aligned, and is indicated by a grid border.

FunctionDetail of Function
Make Same HeightMakes all selected elements the same height as the base element.
Make Same WidthMakes all selected elements the same width as the base element.
Make the Same SizeMakes all selected elements the same height and width as the base element.
Align VerticalAligns the centers of all selected elements vertically with the center of the base element.
Align HorizontallyAligns the centers of all selected elements horizontally with the center of the reference element.
Move to TopMoves the selected element to the top relative to other elements in the diagram.
Move to BackMoves the selected element to the back compared to other elements in the diagram.
Align LeftAligns the left edge of all selected elements perpendicular to the left edge of the base element.
Align RightAligns the right edges of all selected elements perpendicular to the right edge of the base element.
Align TopAligns the top edge of all selected elements horizontally with the top edge of the base element.
Align BottomAligns the bottom edges of all selected elements horizontally with the bottom edge of the base element.
Adjust Horizontal SpacingEqualizes the horizontal spacing between selected elements.
Adjust Vertical SpacingEqualizes the vertical spacing between selected elements.
Snap to GridApply a grid to help you place elements in a diagram. Options include Grid, Smart Layout, Show Grid, and Show Smart Layout Guides.

The Tools panel provides functions for sorting, viewing, and filtering diagram elements, and is useful when working with large or complex diagrams. Filters and layers let you isolate elements you don’t need for a particular situation, and pan and zoom windows help you zoom in on diagrams or quickly navigate large diagrams. The diagram layout feature automatically adjusts and organizes the layout of elements.

FunctionDetail of Function
Filters & LayersDisplays the ‘Filters & Layers’ window to create and apply filters to selectively hide parts of the diagram that are not relevant.
Pan and ZoomDisplay the Pan & Zoom window to explore larger diagrams and drill down into areas of interest.
Diagram LayoutDisplays an options menu that allows you to select, configure, and apply various diagram layouts. Options include automatically applying the default layout, displaying the Layout tool window, and applying one of 11 predefined diagram layouts.


The Helpers panel contains a set of specialized tools to help you manipulate the elements of your diagram. These tools perform useful functions to save time, maintain layout, and improve visualization. The ‘Sweeper’ and ‘HVLock’ tools move multiple elements in a diagram vertically, horizontally or diagonally. The ‘Presentation’ tool can be used to demonstrate which elements will be the focus during a workshop or meeting. The ‘Show Direction’ tool shows the direction of relationships connected to selected elements.

FunctionDetail of Function
SweeperWhen the sweeper is activated, you can move sections of the diagram vertically, horizontally or diagonally.
HV LockWhen HV Lock is enabled, elements can only be moved horizontally or vertically, with limited diagonal movement.
PresentationWhen the Presentation option is selected, the border of the selected element is displayed as a simple solid line. Diagram icons, move handles, and hatching are not displayed.
Show DirectionWhen this option is selected, the physical direction of the connector attached to the selected element is displayed in color: red for incoming relationships and green for outgoing relationships.
PerpendicularWhen this option is selected, the connector is forced to take a vertical or horizontal position when adjusted.
Change message orderIf you enable this option, you can change the order of messages in the sequence diagram. The position of a message changes when you drag it to move beyond the position of the next or previous message.

The auto-refresh panel provides an auto-refresh feature for collaborative diagram design, allowing multiple users to input input and monitor changes to the same diagram.

OptionDescription
Auto Refresh– Disable auto refresh for this diagram (default setting)
– Enable auto-refresh to check diagram changes every 7, 15, 30, or 60 seconds
– Pause auto-refresh for diagram editing
– Resume automatic refresh at current interval after editing
Pause and EditPause automatic refresh to edit diagrams
Resumeautomatic refresh at current interval after edit

In this post, we have finished explaining Layout Ribbon. Next time we will learn more about Publish Ribbon.

I would like to continue the explanation in order of the Ribbon menu, focusing on creating a system architecture using SysML. There are Ribbons such as Develop, Simulate, Execute, Construct, and Specialize, but these are relatively less used functions in beginner battlefield systems engineering and SysML learning. Therefore, we will deal with the content up to the Publish Ribbon first, and the remaining Ribbons will be discussed in detail when necessary as the blog progresses.


[Enterprise Architect] #15. Documentation & HTML

[Enterprise Architect] #14. Trace, Relation, Navigation, composition

[Enterprise Architect] #13. Project Browser, Focus Window

[Enterprise Architect] #12. Other useful functions when creating diagrams

[Enterprise Architect] #11. Useful functions of the Layout menu

[Enterprise Architect] #10. Diagram views

[Enterprise Architect] #9. Enterprise Architect Usage Basics 2

[Enterprise Architect] #8. Enterprise Architect Usage Basics

[Enterprise Architect] #7. EA Modeling Component

[Enterprise Architect] #6. Publish Ribbon

[Enterprise Architect] #4. Design Ribbon

[Enterprise Architect] #3. Start Ribbon

[Enterprise Architect] #2. Organizing your EA work Desktop

[Enterprise Architect] #1. File Management & Explore Panel

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