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BPMN modelling with ARIS

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by Sebastian Stein in ARIS BPM Blog posted on 2009-02-04

If you search the Internet for ARIS and BPMN modelling, you will find a lot of misinformation stating BPMN is not a first class modelling language in ARIS. This is surprising, because the various ARIS Platform products already have BPMN support since a long time. In the following, I will give you a brief overview of the BPMN modelling capabilities of ARIS. <!--more-->

My colleague Erik Hagen and I have put together an ARIS Expert Paper describing the BPMN modelling capabilities of ARIS. Besides the core modelling of BPMN diagrams, ARIS provides some more advanced BPMN features like BPMN process simulation and syntax checking. Today, I focus on the core modelling features and describe probably next week the remaining topics.

Let's take a look first at a BPMN diagram created with ARIS Business Architect version 7.1: 

The diagram shows a production process for car doors. In this simplified process, two departments are involved in the process: production and quality assurance. Both departments are represented in the diagram by two pools. The BPMN process model describes the flow within each department, but also the interaction between both departments.

While modelling this process, ARIS supports the modeller in creating a valid BPMN diagram. For example, ARIS automatically selects the correct relationship type between the different BPMN activities. It can be seen that different relationship types must be used if connecting two activities within a pool or if connecting two activities belonging to two different pools. ARIS also resizes the pools automatically while adding additional objects to a pool and therewith exceeding the current size of the pool. A palette with all BPMN elements, shown in the screenshot below, is available next to the diagram so that new objects can be added to the diagram easily. 

Of course, you can layout and pimp the visual representation of the diagram as it suits your needs. Colours of the various objects can be selected freely and visual effects like colour gradient can be added so that the diagrams are visually appealing. That is important so that you can show your co-workers that business process management is not a boring topic. ARIS also provides simulation capabilities and syntax checks. However, I will give you a brief overview about those features next week. If you already interested in more details, check out the belonging ARIS Expert Paper about "Adopting BPMN with ARIS" in the ARIS Expert Paper library.

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Colin Canfield posted on 2009-02-06

While most BPMN elements are present, apart from exceptions and messages attached to Functions,sub-processes are not represented particularly well.

It is useful to be able to expand / collapse sub-processes depending on the audience; of course this doesn’t really fit the ARIS way, the function should instead be assigned to another model. This works but you then cannot see the context of the ‘parent’ process.

Regards Colin

Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-02-06

Hi Colin,

actually that is not true. You can have sub-processes as specified in the BPMN standard. If you have a collapsed sub-process and click on expand (the “+” sign on the activity), ARIS will replace the content of the sub-process directly in the process. If not enough space is left, ARIS will resize the lane/pool and layout the diagram accordingly.

But I think you raised a good point and I will provide a screenshot to illustrate that in my next post next week.

Site Administrator posted on 2009-02-11
John M. said:

In ARIS I’ve created a Business Process Diagram (BPMN) but now I have only 6 symbols to choose from (without work flows, message flows,…)… F12 also doesn’t work (Add symbols)! What can I do? Please help, thanks!

Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-02-11

Hi John,

which version are you using? If F12 doesn’t work, can you at least click on the button above the icon palette to add more symbols?

Site Administrator posted on 2009-02-11
John M. said:

Version 7.1 and button above also doesn’t work, it’s not even bold (B) so I can’t click on it!

Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-02-12

Hi John,

in that case I suggest that you contact our support, because there are several possible reasons for that problem.

Site Administrator posted on 2009-02-16
John said:

I found one article with this content in it:

‘A process/subprocess is normally assigned a detailed process. Unlike in BPMN, ARIS does not show an assigned activity with a plus sign but with the assignment icon. Besides identifying an assigned function, BPMN also provides the ability to show the detailed process at the next higher process level. This is done by clicking on the
plus sign. This functionality is not supported by ARIS at the moment.’

What now, is this functionality supported by ARIS or not? I think it is… And we also have + sign, don’t we?

Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-02-16

John, as I said before, it is supported. The article you found seems to be outdated. It is also not an official IDS Scheer publication. The homepage where the paper is hosted looks very outdated, no updates done since 2006. We now have 2009!

Site Administrator posted on 2009-02-17
John said:

I would like to know how can we create loop and ad-hoc processes? With attributes - I didn’t manage to do that?! Thanks…

Site Administrator posted on 2009-02-17
John said:

What about new event in BPMN -> Signal event, this isn’t yet supported by ARIS, is it?

In ARIS we have support for text annotations (what is it?)? What are TWO types that BPMN supports?

Does ARIS have a Conditional and Default flows and what about Event-based Exclusive Gateways?

What about attaching a data object… Does ARIS supports Undirected, Bidirected and Directed association?

Why can’t I connect Data object with Message intermediate event (why is there only Connection symbol - why aren’t all types of connections shown)?

Thank you for taking your time!!

Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-02-18

Hi John,

ok, first an answer to your question about loops and ad-hoc processes.

1. Create a BPMN diagram
2. If not already done, use the BPMN template for the diagram.
3. Add a BPMN function
4. Open the attributes dialog and set in the BPMN subgroup for example “loop” to “multiple instances”. Save and close the dialog.

You will now see the “multi instance” icon on the activity. If that doesn’t work, there might be 2 things going wrong:

1. We are not talking about the same version of ARIS. I’m referring to ARIS 7.1
2. Open the properties (attribute placement) of the BPMN activity. Is the box “As Icon” of the “ad hoc” attribute checked?

Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-02-18

Ok John, now the remaining questions.

About BPMN signal event: Those events were introduced with BPMN 1.1, but we currently support BPMN 1.0 with ARIS. We already support some of the additions of BPMN 1.1, but we have not yet released a version with official BPMN 1.1 support.

About text annotations: Sorry, I mixed that up with data objects. You can add a text annotation to your diagram and connect it to an object.

About conditional/default flows: That is supported, just create a connection between a gateway and an object and open the attribute dialog of the “connection”. There, you can e.g. set this connection as “default”. The belonging icon on the connection will be shown.

About data objects: I’m not sure, but I believe that bi-directed associations were introduced in BPMN 1.1. Anyway, all message associations are per default directed. You can change the connection to undirected or bidirected in the property dialog of the connection.

About message flows connected to intermediate msg events: If I am not mistaken, that is not allowed in BPMN 1.0, but I will check that internally so that we can file a bug report if necessary.

About why aren’t all types of connections shown: That is a feature! The user just says to create a connection and ARIS selects the correct connection type depending on the objects, which must be connected. That simplifies the user interface heavily, because instead of showing many connections, the tool selects the correct connection type automatically.

Site Administrator posted on 2009-02-18
John said:

I have ARIS version 7.1 but I can’t find ‘BPMN subgroup’… Where is that? What do you mean with ‘attributes dialog’? Do I need to setup something in Filter?
I only have option ‘More attributes’ and there I can go to BPMN but there are only Instantiate and in ‘Task type’ again Instantiate and Task type…

Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-02-18

John, you are almost there :-) If you click on “more attributes”, you already navigated to the correct place: BPMN -> Loop Type. Select it and press ok. This attribute is now available in your attribute list. Now select “multi instance”, apply the changes and close the dialog. Now the icon should be shown.

If you find this “More attributes” dialog too confusing, select the object and press “F8″. You will now get to the attributes dialog I was referring to in my previous description. In this dialog, you can directly define the values of the different attributes.

Site Administrator posted on 2009-02-18
John said:


Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-02-18

In that case try to login with “Entire Method” filter. If that works, the attributes are missing in your filter. If that doesn’t work, please contact our support so that they can find out what is wrong with your installation.

Site Administrator posted on 2009-02-18
John said:

It’s working now! I loged in with ‘Entire Method’ filter and now I have ‘ad-hoc’,… Thanks!

Site Administrator posted on 2009-02-19
John said:

I would like to know if FAD can only be assigned to EPC? Can I assigned it to BPMN diagram?

Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-02-19

Yes, you can assign function allocation diagrams to BPMN activities. Please also see the ARIS Expert Paper linked in the article above.

Site Administrator posted on 2009-03-09
Fernando Trapnell said:

Hi Sebastian, I´m following your article to start modeling in BPMN, just modeled with vac, epc and fad before.
So my questions are: 1) How can I put the names of the pools and lanes to the left, but still inside the objects, just like you did in this article? I´m using ARIS 7.02 and there´s no option for that in the “Attribute placement” window in Object properties. Is it only possible in ARIS 7.1? and my other question is: Is There an “Add-hoc Subprocess” symbol in ARIS 7.02?

Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-03-09

Hi Fernando,

the easiest solution for placing the attributes where you want is just draging them there. Click on the attribute in the diagram and drag it where you want it to be.

ARIS 7.02 also supports Ad-hoc subprocesses, but some more manual work is needed.

1. Create a new subprocess
2. Go to the BPMN attributes of this subprocess
3. Set the attribute Sub-Process -> Ad-hoc to true (checked)
4. Go to the properties of the subprocess (attribute placement)
5. Select the “Ad hoc” attribute.
6. Make sure that the checkbox “as symbol” is checked for the ad-hoc attribute.

Now, the ad-hoc icon is shown on the sub-process object.

Site Administrator posted on 2009-03-10
Melissa said:

Hi there,

I am a consultant that has just used ARIS to create 120 BPMN maps for a client. The client has decided that they don’t want to use ARIS.

Can I export these models into another program that is more common, such as Visio without losing the formatting?

Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-03-10

Hi Melissa,

we are sorry to hear that your customer is not satisfied with our products. We doubt that it will be convenient to handle and keep consistent 120 BPMN models with Visio.

Anyway, BPMN 1 doesn’t define an exchange format. Therefore, there is no standard solution for that. Please contact our local representatives about finding a possible solution. ARIS provides many export mechanisms, which you can adapt for your customer’s specific scenario.

Site Administrator posted on 2009-04-21
Jake said:

Hi there,
I have Aris toolset 7.01. Is possible to model in BPMN and how?

Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-04-21

@Jake: Yes, BPMN is already possible with that early version. You should be able to create a new diagram of the type “Business Process Diagram (BPMN). If you can’t find this diagram, check your method filter and set it to “Entire Method”.

Site Administrator posted on 2009-04-29
Fernando Trapnell said:

Hi Sebastian,
I’m looking for a way to import models created in Visio into ARIS. Is there a way to do this kind of import?

Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-04-29

Hi Fernando,

yes, we have done such imports in various customer projects. Please contact your local IDS Scheer representative for further information.

Sanjiv Kaushal posted on 2009-06-15

Hi Sebastian

For a Human task, I have a case where the task can be done by 2 seperate assignees.
Say 'Clerk' and 'Writer'.

However, when I enter the infomation in the Assignee wizard as
Workflow pattern name : 'Single Approve'
Workflow pattern : 'Single approver'
Assignee : 'Clerk'
The system gives me an error 'The selected workflow pattern may gave only one asignee.'

my question.
1. I am using the right workflow pattern?
2a. if yes, what am I missisng?
2b. if no, how do you suggest I do it?


Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-06-17

Hi Sanjiv,

are you using Oracle BPA Suite? Or which assignee wizard are you using?


Sanjiv Kaushal posted on 2009-06-17

Hi Sebastian,

Yes, I am using Oracle BPA suite.


Site Administrator posted on 2009-06-17

Hi Sanjiv,

in that case it will be a little bit hard for us to answer the question, because it is an Oracle product. Especially those extensions like the assignee wizard are BPA Suite specific. However, I will try to forward this discussion here to an Oracle representative. We will see if they find the time to answer your question here.


Wolfgang Muecke posted on 2009-06-18

Hi Sanjiv,

looks like the "sequential list workflow pattern" is the right choice here and not the "Single Approver" workflow pattern.

Augusto Morando posted on 2009-07-09

 Hi Sebastian!

Nice to be with Aris.

I'm fresh with Aris. So I have 1 ton of question, but I'll not gonna bother you. Don't worry.Can I have a intermediate event (timer or message) attached to an activity boundary?

Can I transform a BPMN diagram into a BPEL with Aris?

Thank's in forward! 


Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-07-13

Hi Augusto,

you can attach an intermediate timer or message event to an activity boundary. We have customers using a BPMN to BPEL transformation within ARIS, but this is not an out-of-the-box feature, but instead a custom development for those customers.



Augusto Morando posted on 2009-07-13

 Hi Sebastian,

Thanks for your answer. 

Can you tell me how attach an intermediate event to an activity boundary? I can't do it somehow... : (

Nice week,


Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-07-13

Hi Augusto,

this is very easy, select the event, move over the activity and press again. Make sure you have a recent version of ARIS 7.1.



Augusto Morando posted on 2009-07-14

 Perfect Sebastian, alles geklappt!

Thanks for now,


Augusto Morando posted on 2009-07-20

Hi Sebantia,
I was trying to do some tests with the intermediate message event. Unfortunately it was not successful.
After some problems with the BPMN semantic check I could validate the diagram. The same luck I didn't have with the simulation mode, which displayed the follow error...

The follow diagram correspond to the error message. "M_volta" correspond to the second intermediate message event.

I made a similar diagram, but if you see the end events you will realize the token are not there for all ends.

Do you have an Idea what could be wrong?

Ralf Angeli posted on 2009-07-20

The simulation follows the BPMN 1.0 spec. With respect to message intermediate events the spec was inconsistent:

* p. 45: "In Normal Flow, Message Intermediate Events can be used for sending messages to a participant"

* p. 48: "An Intermediate Event MUST NOT be a source for Message Flow; it can have no outgoing Message Flow."

We decided to follow the statement on page 48 which, as it turned out, was not such a good idea because the inconsistency was resolved towards the other option in the following specs. So this restriction will be lifted once the simulation supports BPMN 1.1 or 1.2 respectively.

Regarding the second diagram: You first have to trigger the lower process with a message from the upper one before you can send a message from the lower to the upper pool and expect it to be recognized as belonging to the same process instance.

Augusto Morando posted on 2009-07-21

 Mr. Ralf,

Thank you for your help.

Augusto Morando posted on 2009-07-22

Hi Sebastian,

I was trying to use the rule event. know.
I read also the paper BPMN 1.2 page 273 and page 277. In Aris I have to maintain the attributes "rule name" and "rule expression", is it right? But what should I do if I want that the rule trigger the upper process flow when the other two are fished? Should I write a language name in "rule name" and an expression that I what in "rule expression"? Doesn't exist an example of it?

Thanks in forward,


Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-07-23

Hi Augusto,

are you expecting that this triggering of the upper process works in a simulation or do you just need it for documentation. In the first case, I doubt that it will work. In the second case I suggest that you use the different attributes as their are most convenient for you.



Augusto Morando posted on 2009-07-23

 Hi Sebastian,

exactly, I would like to use it in a simulation. Do you think that it is not possible? What do you suggest?



Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-07-23

Hi Augusto,

if I understand your model correctly, you could end your processes with a message event, which is connected to the message start of the upper process.



Augusto Morando posted on 2009-07-23

I thought the same, but the problem is that it is in the same pool.

I have to think other way.



Augusto Morando posted on 2009-07-27

 Hi Sebastian,

Is it possible with Aris to simulate the follow process?

The complex gateway must chose the function 5 if the function 2 was chosen (for the same token, I mean the last one) and the function 6 if function 3 was chosen (same token condition).

I think I will have to program some lines, but I don't know where and I don't know in which language.



Ralf Angeli posted on 2009-07-29

Complex gateways currently work like OR gateways because expressions are not yet supported. See the ARIS help topics page "Optimize and control processes --> Simulate processes --> Valuable information --> Modeling --> How do process folders pass through a simulated process in BPMN diagrams? --> How does a complex decision in the process pass work in BPMN diagrams?".

Tiago Cassiano posted on 2009-07-27

Hi Sebastian,


Do you know if is possible import a BPEL process into ARIS? I want import a process exported from SAP XI.


Tks in advanced



Sebastian Stein posted on 2009-07-28

Hi Tiago,

no, I think this is not possible.



Tom Einar Nyberg posted on 2009-08-13

Question with regards to collapsing/expanding sub-processes.

I've found that if you use an collapsed process, add context to it (and then use the + to expand and close it works fine.....

BUT - if you now also try to assign an FAD to the sub-process the expansion will no longer work,  you get an error message,  Even if you delete the FAD again you are no longer able to use the collapse/expand feature

Is this a bug ?

For this reason Ive opted to instead use assignements to detail supprocesses