System Architecture Framework (SAF)

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Brief Description
1st release: TdSE 2021
2nd release: TdSE 2022
3rd release: TdSE 2023
Development resp. published by: SAF Working Group supported by Gesellschaft of Systems Engineering e.V. GERMAN CHAPTER of INCOSE
Primary field of application: System Architecture
Development process or methodology: Scope INCOSE Technical Processes
as defined by INCOSE SE Handbook
Meta model (Ontology): SAF Metamodel, based on SysML,
aligned with INCOSE SE Handbook

SAF and Enterprise Frameworks

Inspired by the various enterprise architecture frameworks the System Architecture Framework (SAF) is a common, domain independent system architecture framework dedicated to support model-based systems engineering of technical systems. The SAF is a complementary framework to enterprise architecture frameworks supporting the needs of potential system suppliers to enterprise acquires. SAF starts where an enterprise architecture framework stops.

The application of an enterprise architecture framework results often in operational capability needs which may lead to the acquisition of one or more technical systems. The SAF supports the potential supplier of a technical system to pick up the baton from where the enterprise framework left it off.

Figure: Enterprise Architecture Frameworks and System Architecture Frameworks delimitation

The SAF defines specific viewpoints to support major aspects of the system design by creating a model capturing the functional, logical, and physical structure of a technical system. For the modelling of the system behavior, collaboration, and its embodiment in the operational context further viewpoints are defined. The relationship and traceability viewpoints for requirements are established showing their coverage, interface and domain information model viewpoints are completing the framework [1][3].

The SAF will be extended to support safety and security analysis by additional viewpoints integrating safety and security aspects into the system model [2].

The System Architecture Framework (SAF) aims to:

  • be flexible enough to be tailored to different processes and project scopes,
  • provide the appropriate viewpoints for the different project phases with and right level of detail,
  • reflect a semantics common to the systems engineering of technical systems supporting communication with interested audiences,
  • include modelling guidelines and standardized diagram content supporting the systems engineer,
  • define stereotypes, naming conventions and model structures to support exchange, automation, model validation, and document generation, and finally
  • guide the SAF modeler to choose the relevant viewpoints based on generic concerns.

Due to the generic nature of the underlying SysML language the SAF does not pose a rigid corset for system architectures, but one that can be adapted and extended as needed: the SAF provides guidance to viewpoint-based tailoring and extension of the framework to adapt to an organization’s specific Systems Engineering approach and information need. This scalability allows a planned MBSE approach tailored and balanced according to the needs imposed by the circumstances of project and executing organization.

SAF Ontology

The SAF Conceptual Model ontology defines relevant Systems Engineering information items and their relationships.

The SAF Viewpoint Grid structures viewpoints in a grid. The grid rows, the SAF domains, follow the left leg of the systems development lifecycle vee model. The grid columns, the SAF aspects, group common kinds of viewpoints addressing stakeholder concerns.

Each SAF Viewpoint defines exactly which subset of the ontology it contains, which concerns are addressed by the viewpoint, and how the viewpoint shall be implemented using SysML and Stereotypes. This vendor-agnostic approach allows to implement SAF in different modelling tools achieving a high degree of interoperability. Currently, the SAF is being implemented for some popular architecture modelling tools.


[1] Modellbasierter Bärentango mit dem System Architecture Framework, TdSE 2021, Michael Leute, Alexander Haarer, Sascha Ackva, Christian Lalitsch-Schneider, Markus Andres, Stephan Husung und Piotr Malecki [Link]
[2] System Safety in SysML, TdSE 2015, T. Weilkiens, A. Berres, D. Endler, A. Haarer, C. Lalitsch-Schneider, M. Krammer, H. Martin
[3] System Architecture Framework (SAF), EMEASEC 2018, Rodrigo Batista, Alexander Haarer, Sascha Ackva, Christian Lalitsch-Schneider

GfSE SAF GitHub Repository


Viewpoint Specification **Main** branch

We always welcome contributions from our MBSE community to make SAF better, see how to contribute to SAF [Link].
To understand how we develop SAF, please look at how SAF is developed [Link].
** Teaser **: SAF WG meet and greet at the TdSE 2023 in Würzburg!

Cameo Repository

Rhapsody Repository

Sparx Enterprise Architect Repository