10 Years of Essential

So, it’s been 10 years since Essential launched as an open source EA tool.  We originally built Essential to help us with our enterprise architecture consulting work.  The tools on the market didn’t answer the questions we needed to answer, we had a meta model we used for consulting and we came across an ontology tool which seemed perfect for our meta model and into which we could capture data.  We developed the ability to build architecture views on top of this and we had our EA Tool!   We weren’t a tool vendor, so we pushed it into an open source environment for the community to manage.

The early views and portal were quite basic as you can see.  We expected 10 downloads in the first month and aimed for 200 in the first year, we ended up with 100 in the first month and several thousand in the first year.

Original Viewer Home Page
Original Viewer Portal
Original Technology Catalogue

The tool resonated with enterprise architects, we were one of the earliest EA tools to advocate capability driven architecture, our views were geared to towards EAs, and our data driven approach (allied to the ontology) rather than diagram driven, made data maintenance simpler.  Added to this was our unique design that allowed users to create new views quickly with just a little technical knowledge.  The tool addressed (and still does) the limitations we saw in the other enterprise architecture tools which seemed to treat EA as a documenting exercise rather than a key input into strategy.  Importantly, instead of being built by software engineers (or people with limited EA experience) for architects, Essential truly was built by architects for architects.

The community grew quickly, and we now have several thousand registered users giving active feedback and community contributions that keep the platform evolving.

The meta model has expanded over the years to meet the EA questions we face.  The model began with around 150 classes focused on our 12-box model, but has evolved to about double that, primarily as we brought in the powerful support layer to enable risk, roadmaps, regulation, cost, etc to be applied across the architecture.   

The engagement of professional UI experts in 2011 saw the viewer updated to a more elegant interface with the latest viewer arriving around 2016.  Originally, we had 30 views out of the box, which has now evolved to be over 120 with new views arriving on a regular basis and old views being refreshed. 

The commercial version of Essential arrived in late 2017, primarily because a number of clients wanted an EA tool that took the worry of install away and provided a more formal support model.  We will continue to support and enhance all the platforms, Open Source, Cloud and Docker, we’ll keep delivering new views and extending Launchpad, and we will stretch the platforms as far as we possibly can.

So, it’s Happy Birthday Essential, and a big thank you to all our users, clients and all those people who have contributed over the years.  We hope you stick with us or join us on the next part of the journey and here’s to the next 10 years!!

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