There is a need to define the information architecture, ontologies, and patterns that drive the construction and architecture of Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) models, but less clarity is given to the logical follow-on of that effort: how to practically leverage the resulting semantic richness of a wellformed populated model.

While ontologies and patterns are absolutely necessary, an MBSE effort must also design and provide practical demonstration of value (through human-understandable representations of model data that address stakeholder concerns) or it will not succeed. There must be a low barrier to entry for users, while enabling complex, flexible, and extensible views of model data; support for domain experts and MBSE superusers; and use of a variety of different view and visualization technologies.

This software suite supports an extensible library of visualizations, starting with those created for the purpose of understanding and exploring targeted aspects of requirements flow, allocation, and comparing the structure of that flow-down to a conceptual project decomposition. The software is a collection of tools for visualizing various Systems Engineering (SE) concerns. Particularly, it is focused on traditional SE visualization problems made explicit by Europa Mission’s MBSE approach, but its application can be more generic.

Given an acyclic directed graph of requirement allocations from parent entity to child entity, this software visualizes that flow in the form of an interactive Sankey diagram (a type of alluvial flow diagram). Given an acyclic directed graph of elements, the software displays a Sankey diagram showing the hierarchy. For example, it shows the maturity of each element in a color code to indicate how maturity is progressing down the hierarchy. It displays a Sankey diagram that visually distinguishes between asserted and inferred links. The same interaction features are present as in the previous visualization (table, highlighting, etc.)

This code parses the Europa MBSE system model and transforms the appropriate data subset into a JSON data format that can be fed to the visualization Web application. The particular visualizations are extremely useful, but in a larger perspective, each additional visualization can reuse more of the code common to extracting, transforming, and visualizing the dataset.

This work was done by Maddalena M. Jackson of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This software is available for license through the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and you may request a license at: https://download.jpl.nasa.gov/ops/request/request_introduction.cfm . NPO-49893

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the May, 2016 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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