Welcome to the Innoslate 101 guide!
This guide is meant to introduce you to Innoslate by taking you on a tour of the basic concepts, terminology, and navigating in Innoslate.
What is Innoslate?
Innoslate supports the full lifecycle of systems, from requirements definition and management to operations and support.
Innoslate uses the Lifecycle Modeling Language (LML) and Systems Modeling Language (SysML) to describe its ontology and diagrams. LML was developed to simplify the elements, relationships, attributes, and diagrams used in systems engineering and project management. SysML is defined as an extension of a subset of the Unified Modeling Language (UML) that describes the standard way to visualize the diagrams.
Innoslate is offered as either a cloud-based web application or an enterprise hosted web application.
An Innoslate project is a collection of entities, and a means of logically organizing information. A project can contain any number of requirements documents, system models, simulation results, reports, etc. Every entity belongs to a project. Each project has it's own database (with Innoslate's default database schema pre-loaded), preferences, and a list of users who have permissions to access that project. Available project permissions include Read Only, Read/Write and Owner.
An entity is something that can exist by itself and is uniquely identifiable. We applied the LML definition of an entity to the database objects that store information and files in an Innoslate project. Each entity in Innoslate is comprised of a name, number, description, possible additional attributes and relationships with other entities. Innoslate's default database schema contains twenty-two (22) different, unique types of entities called classes. Each class defines what information (which attributes and relationships) can be stored within that type of entity. These classes include and extend those defined in the LML Specification 1.1 and make Innoslate a LML compliant application.
The default schema includes fourteen (14) parent classes (Action, Artifact, Asset, Characteristic, Connection, Cost, Decision, Equation, Input/Output, Location, Port, Risk, Statement, and Time) and eight (8) child classes (Conduit (child of Connection), Logical (child of Connection), Measure (child of Characteristic), Orbital (child of Location), Physical (child of Location), Requirement (child of Statement), Resource (child of Asset), and Virtual (child of Location).
An attribute is an inherent characteristic or quality of an entity. It further describes the entity, enhancing its uniqueness. Every attribute has a name and a specified data type. We applied the LML definition of an attribute to the individual pieces of information which can be stored within an entity.
Innoslate's default database schema includes the eight (8) mandatory LML attribute data types (Text, Number, Boolean, Percent, DateTime, URI, Enumeration, and GeoPoint) and five (5) additional attribute data types (Big Text, File, Duration, Quality, and Multiplicity).
A relationship connects entities to each other providing traceability back and forth between the two entities. We applied the LML definition of a relationship to the bi-directional connections which can be made between two entities in Innoslate.
How does Innoslate work?
Each view of Innoslate is building and updating a LML model in your current project's database behind the scenes while you are creating and editing diagrams, documents, etc. Each view has access to and knows how to interpret that same model and displays it in a different way. For example, if you use 'Requirements View' to develop a requirements document, then several other products can be automatically generated in Innoslate from the same model including a 'Hierarchy Chart', SysML's 'Requirement Diagram', 'Document Tree Diagram', 'Hierarchical Matrix', and the 'Hierarchical Comparison Matrix'.
The underlying LML model being created is primarily comprised of seven classes of entities that form the basis of any system design: Requirement (child of Statement), Artifact, Action, Asset, Input/Output, Conduit (child of Connection), and Characteristic entities. Understanding these entities and their relationships, shown below, is key to understanding Innoslate, as well as system architecting in general, so let’s spend a little time talking about these seven main elements of our Innoslate design.
The Requirement class in Innoslate, when populated, contains requirement elements that constitute the actual system requirements. Examples of requirements are: ‘The Autonomous Vehicle shall accept Destination Location from the User.’ – that’s an input requirement, and ‘The Sensors shall provide Camera Data to the Control System.’ – that’s an output requirement.
The input and output requirements are grouped into an Artifact entity, such as a document.
Next, we have to get some sense of what our system is going to do. To model the capability of our system, we use Action entities to define a functional architecture. For instance, we might want to design a system to perform the action 'Drive Vehicle'. However, once we decide what our system will do, we need to be able to implement that capability.
The physical implementation of our architecture is comprised of physical elements – and these can be hardware, software, or even human elements. In Innoslate, we call these Asset entities. For example, an 'Autonomous Vehicle' asset might be used to perform the action 'Drive Vehicle'.
In Innoslate, Input/Output entities are the primary form of communication between actions. In order for items to flow among the elements in our system, the components will need to communicate with each other through some type of connections. Thus Innoslate defines Conduit entities and these transfer input/outputs. And finally, Innoslate includes Characteristic entities to define key system metrics.
The element definitions from the Lifecycle Modeling Language specification are as follows:
- A Requirement entity identifies a capability, characteristic, or quality factor of a system that must exist for the system to have value and utility to the user.
- An Artifact entity specifies a document or other source of information that is referenced by or generated in the knowledge base.
- An Action entity generates effects and may have pre-conditions before it can be executed. This Action can include transforming inputs into outputs the process by which inputs are transformed into outputs.
- An Asset entity specifies an object, person, or organization that performs an action, such as a system, subsystem, component, or element.
- An Input/Output entity specifies the information, data, or object input to, trigger, or output from an Action entity.
- A Conduit entity specifies the means for physically transporting Input/Output entities between Asset entities. It has limitations (attributes) of capability and latency.
- A Characteristic entity specifies properties of an entity.
Signing Up and Signing In
Now that you have a firm grasp on the concepts and how Innoslate works, let’s get started by signing up for the cloud-based version of Innoslate!
- Using any modern web browser, navigate to https://www.innoslate.com/sign-up/ on any platform (e.g. Windows, Mac, Android 4+, iPad, iPhone).
- Enter your email address and click on the 'Sign up free' button.
- After receiving the activation email from SPEC Innovations, click the link in the email to activate your account.
- Enter your information in the 'Activate your Innoslate Account' screen and click the 'Activate account' button.
- After activating your account, you will be automatically signed into Innoslate.
Upon signing into Innoslate for the first time a default project will be created and you will be automatically navigated to that default project’s 'Dashboard'. The first thing to notice is the dark bar at the top of your screen known as the top navigation bar, shown below:
The top navigation bar is a constant fixture throughout the application. No matter where you navigate within Innoslate, this navigation bar will remain fixed at the top of your browser window. This bar is your primary means of navigating around Innoslate. Try opening the drop-downs and navigating around the various views and tools in Innoslate while reading through the below list of features of the top navigation bar until you are confident you can find your way around.
The 'MENU' drop-down is the leftmost feature of the top navigation bar as shown below:
The links contained in this drop-down are arranged into four columns: General, Documents, Tools, and Quick Links. The "General" column contains navigational links to your project’s 'Dashboard', 'Database View', 'Diagrams View', and 'Test Center' respectively. The "Documents" column contains navigational links to documents views, such as: CONOPS, Requirements, Test Plans, and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The "Tools" column contains navigational links to tools within Innoslate such as the 'DoDAF Dashboard', 'Import Analyzer', 'Schema Editor' and 'Intelligence View'.
The next set of buttons to the immediate right of the 'MENU' drop-down are items which have been "pinned" to the top navigation bar. Simply click the button with the name of the view or tool and you will be automatically navigated there. To customize the pinned buttons, open the 'MENU' drop-down and click the plus + button which shows up when your cursor hovers next to what you want pinned. For example, if you wanted to pin 'Import Analyzer' to the top navigation bar, the image below shows where you would click:
The first button on the right of the toolbar is the 'Search' button. Clicking this button, shown below, navigates you to 'Search View'.
Toggle Chat Button
Clicking the 'Toggle Chat' button, shown below, toggles the collaboration sidebar open and closed. You will find the collaboration sidebar fixed to the right of your browser window when it is open.
Clicking the 'Share' button, shown below, opens the 'Share Project' dialog.
For more information on how to share projects in Innoslate, see our Sharing Projects documentation.
Switch Project Drop-down
The 'Switch Project' drop-down is located immediately to the right of the 'Share' button. This drop-down, as shown below, contains links that switch Innoslate to any of your existing projects as well as a 'Manage Projects' link that opens the 'Manage Projects' dedicated page.
For more information on how to manage your projects in Innoslate, see our Managing Projects documentation.
The 'User' drop-down, as shown below, is the last and right-most menu item of the top navigation bar. Here you have access to update your Innoslate user account profile, change your password, upgrade your plan, downgrade your plan, or sign out of Innoslate.
For more information on how to navigate around Innoslate, see our Navigating documentation.
Now that you've been properly introduced to Innoslate, we encourage you to further your knowledge by reading our next guide: Requirements Management and Analysis