Use of nesting

In ArchiMate, structural relationships represent the 'static' relationships between elements. Besides representing structural relationships as visible connectors, an alternative would be to express them by means of nesting composed elements within the composing element. This article shows you how to nest elements inside another elements as an alternative graphical notation to expressing structural relationships.

The structural relationships

In ArchiMate there are four kinds of structural relationships. These and only these relationships can be represented as either visible connectors or in nested manner. The table below lists the structural relationships.

Name
RepresentationDefinition
Composition

Indicates that an element consists of one or more other concepts.
Aggregation

Indicates that an element consists of one or more other concepts.
Assignment

Expresses the allocation of responsibility, performance of behavior, or execution.
Realization   Indicates that an entity plays a critical role in the creation, achievement, sustenance, or operation of a more abstract entity.

ArchiMate Structural Relationships Summary

Creating a structural relationship in nested way

Let's say we want to create a Composition relationship.

  1. Select the 'source element'. In this case, it's the Composing element.
    Selecting the source element
    Selecting the source element
  2. Since we want to create a nested element in it, make sure the shape is large enough to accomodate the nested shape. You may resize the shape to make it larger. Resize can be made by dragging the resize handler. By the way, the shape content will remain visible regardless of its size and there will be no distortion.
    Resizing shape
    Resizing shape
  3. From the diagram toolbar, choose the kind of element that you want to create as nested element.
    Selecting the kind of element to create
    Selecting the kind of element to create
  4. Click inside the source element to create the shape. When you do this you should immediately see a black box presented at the top right of the diagram, asking you to select a kind of relationship to create.
    Creating a nested element
    Creating a nested element
  5. Select the kind of relationship to create. Note that the available selection respect the ArchiMate specification. In other words, you are allowed to create only those legit relationship types. Click OK to confirm.
    Selecting the kind of element to create
    Selecting the kind of element to create
  6. The nested element is created. Rename it.
    Nested element created
    Nested element created

    You may check the specification window if you are not sure if the relationship was properly created.
    Inspecting the created relationship via the specification window
    Inspecting the created relationship via the specification window

Switching from nested to non-nested, and vice versa

  1. To change the presentation of a structural relationship from nested to visual connector, simply drag the nested element out of the nesting element.
    To move a nested element out of the nesting element
    To move a nested element out of the nesting element
  2. As the nested element moved out of the nesting element, the connector will be presented.
    Composition relationship represented as connector
    Composition relationship represented as connector

If you want to present as nested shape again, simply drag the shape back to the nesting element. The connector will be hidden automatically.

Related Resources

The following resources may help you to learn more about the topic discussed in this page.

 
1. How to Draw ArchiMate 3.0.1 Diagrams Table of Contents 3. Formatting ArchiMate elements
 

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