By Declan Bright
ArchiMate, the modelling language for enterprise architecture was originally developed between 2002 and 2004. Several versions of the specification have been released since then and the language is now supported by a variety of modelling tools and vendors.
If you want to learn ArchiMate then you have to choose a modelling tool in order to get started and a quick internet search will give you some options. As your ArchiMate skills develop your models will become larger and more complex and you will begin to rely on them more in your day to day work. Developing complex architecture models requires a significant investment of time and effort and before long you will begin to ask yourself questions such as: Should I try a different tool such as tool X?, Will the extra features in tool Y be more beneficial to me?, What if I want to share a model with another architect who uses tool Z?
These are all valid questions and I am sure that you have had concerns about product or vendor lockin numerous times in the past. Each modelling tool stores your models in its own proprietary format however The Open Group, who manages the development of ArchiMate specifications have been working hard to solve this problem. They have recently published a snapshot (preview) specification for a standard file format for the exchange of ArchiMate models between tools. The exchange file format is being implemented in two phases: Phase 1 includes the core exchange format and Phase 2 includes a format for visual layout.
Developing and implementing these standards within modelling tools takes time as there are so many stakeholders involved but it is progressing. Archi has a plugin which implements the Phase 1 specification, Corso’s ArchiMate® 2.1 plugin for IBM Rational System Architect also supports the standard, more are sure to follow.
If you are already modelling with ArchiMate (or you are thinking about it) then the development of this standard is significant as it gives you peace of mind when choosing an ArchiMate modelling tool, you can get on with you job without worrying about which tool is best or which tool you will use in the future.
More information about ArchiMate can be found on the website and more information about the new exchange format can be found on the frequently asked questions page.

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About the Author:

Declan Bright is a Technical Architect who has been designing and developing enterprise solutions for the aviation and telecommunications industries since 1999.