This functionality only applies to ArchiMate® models.

The ArchiMate standard has rules for deriving relations. Based on these rules a distinction could be made between two types of relations: direct relations and indirect, or derived, relations.

Relations that cannot be further refined, can be considered to be direct relations. These are the relations that are described in the graphical representation of the metamodels in the ArchiMate specification. All other relations present in the relation table of the standard can be considered to be derived relations.

Below is an example of a direct and an indirect relationship that can be drawn between two objects.


Example of a direct (left) and an indirect (right) relation

According to the above interpretation, an association relation between an application component and a business process (left figure) is regarded as a direct relation. It cannot be further refined. A serving relation between these two objects (right figure) can be regarded as a derived relation; it can be further refined. A refinement could look like this:

Refinement of a derived relation

Now only direct relations are used, and three intermediate elements have been added. Some would say that only the use of direct relations gives a more complete representation of the architecture, as all issues are fully described. On the other hand, choosing "short connections" can add more abstraction to a model. Only the components that are relevant to a given application of the model, are then brought into view. It is all a matter of preference.

On this page:

Activating the support for derived relation types

By default, Enterprise Studio does not make a distinction between direct and indirect relations in ArchiMate models. This is not necessary for modeling, it is not required by the ArchiMate standard. If you still would like to have this distinction visible, you can activate it at the General options by selecting the Support for derived ArchiMate relation types check box on the General tab

Modeling using direct and derived relations

When support for derived relation types is activated, the distinction between direct and derived relations is visible when using the smart connector during modeling. In the pop-up window that appears, the direct relations are marked with a continuous border, derived relations have a dotted line for a border (in the context menu that is available in older tool versions, there is an asterisk behind the derived relations). That way you can clearly see which of the possible relations between two elements are direct relations and which are derived relations. If the support for derived relation types is not activated, all possible relations are presented in the same way.


Support for derived relation types not active (left) and activated (right)

In the figure on the left, the possible relations between the two elements are presented in the same way (all with a continuous border). In the figure on the right, the direct relations (with continuous border) are shown first, and the derived relations (with dotted border) follow.

Checks for derived relations

On the ArchiMate ribbon tab, a color view filter is available called Derived relation types. It allows you to visualize the derived relation types in a view. If derived relations are present in a view, they are displayed with colors.

For illustration, in the figure below the direct relations as well as the derived relation have been drawn. If the color view filter is applied to it, the derived relation will become clear.


Drawn direct and indirect relations and color view of derived relation

In addition, the Derived relation types check is available. All in the view existing instances of the derived relations are presented in a table in the Worksets window. The color view filter and the check can be used always, even if you do not have enabled the support for derived relation types.

Elaborating derived relations

If a relation is modeled between two objects that is considered to be a derived relation, it is possible to further elaborate this derived relation into various detailed (direct) relations. When elaborating, you choose an available scenario, which will then be drawn in the view.

Elaborating relations is not supported for the dynamic relations Flow and Triggering.


  1. Right-click a derived relation and then click Elaborate relation.

    In the Elaborate relation window, one or more possible elaboration scenarios are shown. If several scenarios are available, only the shortest scenarios are presented.

    If referring to the previously mentioned example, the realization relation between an artifact and an application component is elaborated, the following scenarios will be available:

    Clicking one of the scenarios in the lower part of the window will show the corresponding path above.

  2. Select the scenario you want to use and click OK.

Use existing objects

If existing objects are available in the model that can be used in the scenario, then they are shown below the intermediate objects in the scenario. Click an existing object if you want to use it. Do this for each object you want to use.

If you want to use an existing object that is not displayed, click More... below the intermediate object, and select the desired object in the window that appears.

After you have selected a scenario and possibly any existing objects, click OK. The elaboration is placed on the view. Any newly added objects are added to the model. You will only need to name them.

ArchiMate® is a registered trademark of The Open Group.