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Professional database modeling

Chapter 9

Conceptual Model

About this chapter

This chapter describes and explains the Conceptual Model.

What Is It

The Conceptual Model object is a general purpose, free-form, diagram which may be useful for general purpose documentation. The Conceptual Model object supports basic draw objects such as; line, rectangle, and ellipse. The Physical and Logical Model objects inherit much of their functionality from this object so it is important to understand the Conceptual Model object.

Using The Conceptual Model

The Conceptual Model is a document which may be created as a child of the Workspace or a Project. It is not particularly important for a Diagram to be a child of a Project because it does not require nor use a database connection but making it a child of a Project may help keep things organized.

Menu Options

The Conceptual Model has its own popup menu which can be accessed by <right-clicking> on it in the browser. This menu can be used to load the document and bring the editor into view. This menu can also be used to Save the document.

Editing Properties

The Conceptual Model property dialog is invoked by selecting the Properties menu option (prop) from the Diagram popup menu or by <double-clicking> an empty area of the document editor. The following is a Conceptual Model properties dialog;


Adding Shapes

Shapes are diagram child objects which can be drawn on the document. A shape can be added to the Diagram by selecting its tool from the main window tool-bar and then drawing the object on the document editor by <click-hold> at the start location on the document and <release> at the end location. Once the mouse button is released the manipulate tool becomes active.

The following table shows the shapes which can be added as a child of a Diagram;


Objects which are drawn on the document are also called Shapes or Tools. All child objects of a Diagram are shapes.

The Conceptual Model supports automatic page allocation. When a shape is created or moved and all or some of the shape is beyond the margin indicator - extra page(s) are automatically created to hold the shapes. Similarly; if a shape is deleted or moved and a page becomes empty - the extra pages are automatically removed.

Manipulating Shapes

Shapes may be manipulated using the Property Editor dock-windw (i.e. the shapes geometry) but the primary method to do this is to choose the object manipulate tool (arrow) from the main window tool-bar. When this is active the following can be performed;

on empty area of document any selected shapes are unselected

on shape any selected shapes are unselected and the shape <clicked> becomes selected
on empty area of document any selected shapes are unselected

on shape any selected shapes remain selected and the shape <clicked> becomes selected
<double-click> on empty area of document
invokes the diagrams properties dialog

on shape invokes the shapes properties dialog
<drag> on empty area of document
any selected shapes are unselected and group selection begins

on handle
the shape is manipulated according to the function of the handle

on shape selected shapes are moved to the <drop> location on the document

Sizer Handle

The sizer handle is used to resize a shape. The following shows a simple rectangle shape with four sizer handles. Any of these sizer handles be dragged to change the position and/or size of the rectangle.

Line End Handle

There are two types of line-end handles; Begin and End. The Begin handle has an (x) inside it while the End handle has a (+) inside it. The line-end handles can be glued/connected to a rectangle based shape by a simple <drag> + <drop> action. The following image is of a line showing the two line-end handles and one intermediate handle.

Intermediate Handle

Intermediate handles are used to position a shape label or to make other adjustments to a shape. For example an arc shape is a line with two line-end handles and an intermediate handle to be used to position the label. This is the same as a regular line. But the arc has a second intermediate handle which is used to adjust the curve of the arc. The following shows an arc with one end glued to a rectangle.

Gluing Shapes

Line-end handles can be used to glue a 1-dimensional shape (i.e. a line) to a 2 dimensional shape (i.e. a rectangle). This can make manipulating shapes much easier because glued shapes will remain glued after most shape manipulations such as resizing. A line-end handle will automatically glue itself to any 2-dimensional shape it is <dropped> on and it will not be glued if the line-end is <dropped> elsewhere. A glued line-end handle is red to indicate that it is glued.

The 2-dimensional shape generates a "sink" on itself at glue points and these are drawn as a blue X. These sinks can not be manipulated and simply server as an indication of a glue point when the 2-dimensional shape is selected and the 1-dimensional shape is not selected.

Removing Shapes

Shapes can be removed by selecting one or more on the document and hitting the <del> key. An alternative is to find the shape/object in the browser and use the objects popup menu and select the Remove menu option.

Cut/Copy/Paste Shapes

Select the desired shapes and then use <ctrl-x> to cut the shapes from the document and <ctrl-c> to make a copy of the shapes. Use <ctrl-v> to paste the shapes. Diagram shapes may be pasted onto the same document or another diagram document.

Shapes copied/pasted onto the same document will be exactly on top of the original shapes. Simply drag the pasted shapes to a new location and notice the original shapes remain.

Finding Shapes

The output dock-window can be used to find shapes which contain the given text in either the name or the comment. In the following example a request was made to find "Contact" desired text to find and then clicking the find button (find). A number of results were found and displayed in the Find tab of the Output dock-window.

Each result line contains the shapes icon, to indicate its object type, followed by the text matched. A <click> on a result line will cause the shape to come into view and a <double-click> will invoke the shapes properties dialog.