Embed Astah diagram images to Sphinx!

Wonderful news for Astah users who create documents using Sphinx.

Mr. Takeshi Komiya has created a way to embed Astah UML diagram images into Sphinx. Click here or image below to read how to use this fabulous feature!


He’s made this possible by using “astah-command.sh” which is used to export diagram images from Astah by command line.
[TIPS] Exporting diagram to images using the command line

Give it a try and let us know or the developer (@tk0miya) feedback!
Hats off to him from us. :)


Posted in ER Diagram, Kenji, News, Plug-in, TIPS, UML | Leave a comment

[TIPS] How to move objects 1 pixel at a time

Astah has several alignment features to align UML model elements nicely with easy step.

Example) Feature to align model elements vertically

Example) Feature to align model elements vertically

But still sometimes you may want to move model elements individually just to place them in a right place. In that case, hold [Command] key down when you move them, so that they will move 1 pixel at a time.

Also you can show Grid on the diagram from [Tool] – [System Properties] setting. See detail (TIPS: Show Grid in diagram)



Posted in ER Diagram, GSN, News, Support, SysML, TIPS, UML | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to make it better ? – Extracting implicit knowledge in Origami (paper folding) via GSN

Kabuto (Samurai Warrior Helmet)

Kabuto (Samurai Warrior Helmet)

Do you know Origami?

The wikipedia entry “origami” says:

Origami (折り紙, from ori meaning “folding”, and kami meaning “paper” (kami changes to gami due to rendaku) is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, which started in the 17th century AD at the latest and was popularized outside of Japan in the mid-1900s. It has since evolved into a modern art form. The goal of this art is to transform a flat sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques, and as such the use of cuts or glue are not considered to be origami….

We Japanese people (almost) all know how to fold a Crane, Kabuto, and other famous Origami themes, but it is hard to “teach” foreign people how to do it, or more correctly, “how to make it beautiful”.

Each written step of the process is not very difficult. But there should be some secret know-how (or “implicit” knowledge) which is hidden behind the process but makes the result a lot better than just following the steps. Just like cooking. Recipes are composed of ingredients and steps, but a good cook knows more than that.

What makes difference

Nobu Kobayashi(friend of mine) tries using GSN to show the process of folding origami step by step, and at the same time, making the hidden part of the process explicit. Here’s an example GSN from the process of folding a Kabuto (Samurai warrior helmet).

Steps to fold a Kabuto (Japanese Warrior Helmet) Origami

Steps to fold a Kabuto (Japanese Warrior Helmet) Origami

GSN is an abbreviation of “Goal Structuring Notation”, a method to make an argument structure visible(see “What is GSN?” another article of mine with an example from mathematics and industrial context). It is usually used in engineering fields to visualize Assurance Cases (including safety, security and dependability cases).

Let me try to explain what he is doing… Illustrating Origami process with secret tips.

  1. The goal is to “fold a cool Kabuto”, claimed using yellow  Goal node(G1).
  2. The goal is divided into “Steps”, using yellow sub-goals(G2-G9) and blue  Strategy nodes(S1).
  3. Steps(sub-goals) are illustrated with pictures, using green  Solution nodes(Sn1-Sn8).
  4. And, tips, ropes, know-how behind the steps are written using pink  Context nodes(C1-C5) attached to some of the key steps.

To create the GSN of Origami, he interviewed several colleagues to elicit know-how by asking:

“Do you have some thoughts in mind when you follow this step?”

The thoughts are the implicit knowledge behind the stepwise process and he tried to make it explicit.

Nobu is trying to use GSN in his company to make engineering review process (software documentation review) effective. This Origami example is mapped onto the review process also so as to make the steps explicit and at the same time to extract the “implicit” knowledge from the  process to increase knowledge assets of the organization.

Nobuhide Kobayashi, is a practitioner of software engineering and D-Case(Dependability Cases) based in Nagoya, in Japan. Here’s this handsome engineer :)

Nobu Kobayashi (quoted from his corporate site) http://www.denso-create.jp/eye/index4.html

Nobu Kobayashi (quoted from his corporate site) http://www.denso-create.jp/eye/index4.html


Posted in GSN, Interview, Kenji | Leave a comment

Bug-fix version for Mac released! (Astah Professional and Astah Community)

macFor Mac users, we just released a bug-fix version for Astah Professional and Astah Community on August 18th(Mon) which has fixed the following two critical issues.
– Printing fails if an Instance Specification name ends with a non-ASCII character
– Astah hangs frequently when PopClip, BetterTouchTool, iSnap or Window Magnet are launched at the same time

If you are using Mac, please update your Astah.
Download (Re-download from here and install)

If you are using Karabiner, there are known issues as below.
– Astah launches in minimum window size when it is supposed to be in maximum size
– Unable to input by keyboard and all the menus go inactivate when creating new projects etc.

These issues will be fixed when you update your Karabiner to the next version which is planned to be released very soon.

If you have any questions, please email us or post your question on our Q&A form.


Posted in News, Support, UML | Leave a comment

What is GSN and What it’s for?

GSN stands for “Goal Structuring Notation” and it visualizes an argument structure that supports a claim to be true. In the industry in which safety assurance is critical, standards such as ISO61508(general), ISO26262(automotive), DO-178B(airplane), etc require documentation of “Safety Cases”, and GSN is the standard format to document the cases graphically.

But, GSN itself is a simple notation of argumentation structures and has more broader applications. Here I show you some general concepts in GSN using an example.

An example of GSN (mathematics)

The following is an example of GSN that illustrates a mathematical proof of a statement using “mathematical induction”. And the statement is:

“The sum of the natural numbers 1..n equals to n(n+1)/2”.

An example GSN (Mathematical Induction)

An example GSN (Mathematical Induction)

  • In this case, the “Goal” is the statement to prove. In patents or law cases, “Claim” is more a proper word.
  • There are many ways to prove this statement. And here, “induction” is chosen. This node is called “Strategy”.
  • Once this strategy is chosen, the goal can be divided into several “Subgoals”. In this case, the proof of the first statement is divided into
    1. Base: prove that it holds when n=1
    2. Induction Step: Assuming that it holds when n=k and prove that it holds when n=k+1.
  • And the terminals (leafs) are called “Solutions” or “Evidences” which provide the reasoning of the (divided end) goals.


The most demanding needs we can now see is in the automotive, avionics, railway, robotics and medical industries which require “safety” cases in certifications or regulations.

The example below is a safety case argument from “The Community Standards(see below)”.

Safety Case Example

Safety Case Example (click to magnify)

Other “Cases” like “Dependability Cases(D-Cases)”, “Security Cases” and more generally, “Assurance Cases”(an umbrella word for cases that assures some property of the system) can be visualized in the form of GSN, too.

In broader contexts, GSN can be used to visualize arguments including;

  • Proof in mathematics(the above example)
  • Debate strategy
  • Logical argument structure of academic papers and their references
  • Law case in court(supports/objects the claim)
  • Claims in patents

Where to see further discussions

The most stable and referenced documentation of GSN is called “GSN Community Standard

At OMG(Object Management Group), GSN is (semantically) being standardized as “Assurance Case”.

SACM is composed of ARM and the other specification called SEAM(Software Assurance Evidence Metamodel).

By the way… about England

The theoretical foundation of GSN is the argumentation theory by Stephen E. Toulmin(1958, “The uses of argument”) called the “Toulmin Model”.

Toulmin is born in England and influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein. And Prof. Tim Kelly who contributed the first and most of the application of the Toulmin Model to the computer science and industry area is also based in England.

I visited Tim Kelly in the Department of Computer Science at the University of York last year to learn what is happening in this domain, and I found that he was a very young and nice professor, thinking deeply about application of the theory to the real world.


Astah GSNWe’ve developed a GSN editor called “Astah GSN”. Like I mentioned above, GSN is a very simple notation to present the argument structures. Try making one using our free trial.
Download Astah GSN Free Trial: http://astah.net/editions/gsn/download


Posted in GSN, Kenji | 1 Comment

Mind Mapping and ER Diagram Integration – convert Mind Map topics into ER Entities

One of Astah’s unique features is an integration of UML/DFD/ERD diagrams and Mind Maps. One example is to generate UseCase diagrams from Mind Map. Gather user requirements using a Mind Map and then convert them into Actors and UseCases. (Read this white paper for its practice or watch demo video if you are interested.)Astah_MindMap_to_UC

Check out the demo video!

And  today we received a new question regarding the conversion between Mind Map and ER Diagram.

“Can Mind Map topics be converted into ER Entities? like Parent topics as ER Entities and its child topics as its Attributes?”

Astah itself does not have its ability so we provided a way to do so using this Script Plug-in. Script Plug-in is a perfect and easiest way to add customized functionalities to Astah quickly. All you do is to write up its script and let it run in Astah. Java Script, ECMA Script and Apple Script are supported. We have some prepared Java Scripts for you such as to add Setters and Getters, stereotypes, list up all the Classes, Mind Map Topics..etc. Download Script Samples

Here is a sample of how Mind Map topics can be imported as ER Entities + Attributes.
First define the ER Entities and its attributes in Mind Map (ER Entity in the 1st level and its Attributes in the 2nd level) like the figure below.

Copy and paste this Script in Script Window and run.
Astah Mind Map

Then these Mind Map topics will be imported as ER Entities and its Attributes as defined.

Astah ER Diagram

To draw these ER models on the diagram, create or open an ER Diagram and just drag them onto the Diagram.

Astah ER Diagram

There are million things you can do by using this Script Plug-in. Refer to the API documents and customize your Astah to do more what you’d like to do!

PS: Thank you Eldo for requesting this feature that gave me a chance to introduce this useful Script Plug-in to more users. :)


Posted in ER Diagram, Kenji, Mindmap, Plug-in | Leave a comment

[TIPS] How to remove shadows from models

[Editions for: Astah Professional, Astah Community, Astah SysML and Astah GSN]

When you draw models, each model element will have shadow by default.
Astah UML Class Diagram This is how to remove the shadow.
(1) Go to [Tool] – [System Properties] and select [Diagram Editor] from the left menu
(2) Take a check off from [Add shadow on model elements] and click [Apply] – [OK].
When you do this, make sure that [Apply the project settings to the current project] option is checked.

Astah System Properties

Astah System Properties

Here’s the same diagram without shadows.
Astah, UML, Class Diagram


Posted in GSN, News, SysML, TIPS, UML | Tagged | Leave a comment