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Features en detail: Microsoft Visio Import

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by Torsten Haase in Professional ARIS posted on 2010-03-08

Some of you might have started drawing organizational charts or processes using Microsoft Visio or someone sent you a Microsoft Visio drawing. Now you want to use this drawing as a part of your enterprise-wide business processes modelled in ARIS. This is exactly what the new feature "Visio file import" does for you. Just make sure you have the file saved in MS Visio 2007 XML Drawing (".vdx") format.

ARIS Express already contains a pre-configured import functionality for MS Visio files. An imported Visio Drawing is mapped to an ARIS Express diagram of the following types:

  • Business Process (EPC, Workflow Diagram)
  • Organizational chart
  • IT infrastructure (Network Diagram, Detailed Network Diagram)
  • Data model (Database Model Diagram) - General diagram (all others)

In ARIS Express you start the import from the main menu, choosing File -> Import -> Visio VDX files. Now select the file to be imported from the file chooser dialog.

In ARIS Business Architect the import is started from the context menu of a group in the navigation panel or from the main menu if a group is selected:

shows how to start Microsoft Visio import in ARIS Business Architect 7.1

After choosing the Visio VDX file in a file chooser dialog, the new model is created in the selected group and the model is opened in Designer. If the Visio drawing contains more than one page or if more than one Visio file were selected, all new models are created in the selected group and are opened in Designer.

Configure the import mapping

Additionally, in ARIS Business Architect, the way how Visio drawings are mapped to ARIS models can be configured. Only script administrator users are allowed to perform this task. Go to the “Administration” module, navigate to the “Report” section and the category “Visio-Import” below it. Here you find the mapping file (“mapping.xml”). Right click this item and choose the option “Configure Visio Mapping”:

how to change import mapping for Microsoft Visio in ARIS

Subsequently, the currently active mapping is displayed. All other (non-mapped) Visio diagram types are – if they are imported into ARIS – mapped to a “Quick model”.

Overview of mappings between Microsoft Visio and ARIS model types

Here you can change the way a Drawing is mapped to an ARIS model (“Edit”) or add a mapping, defining how to handle a drawing while importing it to ARIS in 3 steps:

  1. Select the Visio drawing type to be mapped and the target ARIS model type
  2. Define which ARIS symbols should be used for each Visio shape.
    • users can define an ARIS symbol for each shape
    • users can specify that a specific shape should not be imported
    • users can define that a specific shape should not be mapped to an ARIS symbol but to a graphical shape along with a free-form text
    • There is no need to specify all mappings. Users can define a combined mapping for “all unmapped shapes” to a specific symbol.
  3. Since ARIS has typed connections between its symbols, this page shows which connection is used in ARIS with the possibility to choose a specific connection if more than one connection type is possible.


For example, let’s examine how Visio organizational charts are mapped to ARIS Organizational charts. This is how the organizational chart looks like in Visio:

organisational chart in Microsoft Visio

The first page of the mapping configuration tells ARIS to map the Visio organizational chart drawing to an ARIS organizational chart model:

first page of Microsoft Visio import wizard

On the second page, you define how the organizational chart shapes are mapped to the symbols in an ARIS organizational chart. In Visio, the following shapes are available to the user:

Microsoft Visio shapes (organisational chart)

One after the other, you can assign an ARIS symbol to each Visio shape:

symbol mapping between Microsoft Visio and ARIS Business Architect

A completed mapping could look like this:

completed symbol mapping between ARIS Business Architect and Microsoft Visio

Here, all relevant shapes have a symbol assigned. All other stuff is mapped to graphical objects and/or free-form texts.

As a result, the model above looks like this after importing it into ARIS:

imported Microsoft Visio organisational chart in ARIS Business Architect

With this new feature it is very easy to import Microsoft Visio Drawings into ARIS. You don’t need to rely on a predefined mapping, but can change the mapping between Microsoft Visio shapes and ARIS objects on your own.

Note: This article describe a feature introduced or extended with ARIS Platform 7.1 Service Release 5. See this post for links to similar articles.

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Stefan Geis posted on 2010-03-08


thanks for outlining this cool feature!

It seems that not all prerequistes to use it are mentioned in the text. In our Business Architect, the "Import"-context menu only offers "XML". Correspondingly, our "Report" script-section does not have a Visio-import section.

What is missing (in our installation / your feature prerequsites)?

Thank you for some guidance,


Torsten Haase posted on 2010-03-08


you need ARIS Business Architect Service Release 5!

Best regards,

Sebastian Stein posted on 2010-03-09

Thanks Stefan for asking. We added a note at the bottom of the text to clarify that.

Eric Vale posted on 2010-03-12


This feature is available in ARIS Business Architect for SAP?

I just install the SR5 but I can´t find the import option.


Eric Vale

Frank Weyand posted on 2010-03-12

Hi Eric,

please try this: select the Explorer module, select a group of a database, and right-click to get the context menu. There, in the "Import..." submenu, you should find "VDX files".



ALAIN DUMAS posted on 2010-04-06

Hi Frank,

With the ARIS IT Architect version from SAP, the only import submenu options are XMI files, XML files and ADF files.  Where is the VDX import option???

Please advise 


Alain Dumas


Александр Чередниченко posted on 2010-04-02

We have a problem with mapping of new Visio model. Our steps:
1. We create new template in Visio: 25.vst


2. We open Configure Visio mapping dialog, then Add… button

3. In field Visio diagram type we select our EPC 25 template


and after and then there are no object in Visio shapes field…

Maybe the problem is we have Russian version of Visio and English version of ARIS?
Any idea?

Torsten Haase posted on 2010-04-15

Hi Alain,

due to a configuration error in Aris Service Release 5, the Visio import is only available in Business Architect, but not in IT Architect, ABA for SAP, ... This issue will be fixed in Service Release 6.

Torsten Haase posted on 2010-04-15

Hi Александр,

the easiest way to get the set of shape names used in your template is to open a VDX file containing all used shapes from your template in an XML editor. This cannot be automated because we cannot read the shape names from the "binary" VST file...

You find the language independet names of all shapes in the xml under <VisioDocument> -> <Masters>:
as attribute "NameU" of the <Master> elements below (leave out the shape named "Dynamic connector"!).

Best regards,


Александр Чередниченко posted on 2010-04-15


Guy Deroose posted on 2010-09-24

Hi Torsten,

Our Product Level is Service Release 8. When we try to map our Visio models (with IT Architect) we want to use the Visio diagram type option "New diagram type based on Visio template" but not the VST file but the VTX file (XML version) which is quite readable. Any possibility?

Tests with VST files are indeed not working, mapping is impossible, but apparently you can't remove the so created Visio diagram type because entering "Cancel" is not doing a rollback. in the database. 

Torsten Haase posted on 2010-09-24

Hi Guy,

with "XML version files" you mean "VDX" format, don't you?

Using this file type, the easiest way is to use the other option: "New diagram type based on Visio sample file (VDX)". It provides you all Visio shapes used in the diagram ready for being mapped on page 2 of the mapping wizard!

If you need to remove a broken diagram type, you can manually edit the file "visioshapes.xml" in the script editor. Here you need to search for the given diagram name, then you can remove the XML element (<drawing>) and its inner elements (<shape> - tags) just up to the corresponding closing </drawing>-tag.
If you now re-open the mapping wizard, the broken types are no longer in the list.

BR, Torsten

Guy Deroose posted on 2010-09-24

Hi Torsten,

Thank you for your quick reply.

From Visio 2007 on, all type of Visio files like template, stencil and document can be saved in XML format. So you have a VDX format for the document, a VSX format for the stencil and a VTX format for the template. So why can we not use in the Visio ARIS mapping report our VTX Visio template?

Working with the name of the document file (VDX) as you suggest is a one time shot solution. We want to install an ARIS service environment where at any time any "standardized" Visio model can be imported into our ARIS professional platform, by some business expert. 

In fact, from a conceptual point of view, the VSX stencil file would be the best input for the mapping. And you do find a reference to the stencil file (VSX) in the document file (VDX).

Greetings and thanks again,




Torsten Haase posted on 2010-09-24

Hi Guy,

sounds to be a good approach using the stencil file (or better offer all XML file types containing shapes, so VDX, VSX and VTX).
To get this request realized in one of the next ARIS releases, please open a call at  ARIS support.

Greetings & BR,

Jacqueline Isley posted on 2011-09-29

Some help with trouble shooting would be great.

Ive attempted to import visio diagrams and have encountered a number of error messages.

I need a bit of hand holding

Kind regards

Jacqueline Isley

Anita Halse posted on 2011-10-05

Hi Jacqueline,


I believe most of us will be willing to offer assistance - what exactly do you need hand holding with?


Kind regards,


Santosh Kumar Pandey posted on 2011-10-07

Hi Team,

I am facing problem in importing the Cross Functional Visio Flow Chart into ARIS EPC. I have made all the necessary changes in script section, but the imported EPC flow is not in standard format; and efforts required for correcting it is equivalent to making a new models manually.

Please click below for visio/image file after import in ARIS.

It will be great if someone can assist any work around for the same.


With regards

Santosh Kumar 


Michael Skinner posted on 2012-08-30

Useful article - thanks!





Guy Deroose posted on 2012-09-05

Support of Visio 2010 is planned for the next major release of ARIS, being V9. That's what my SAG pre-sales representative told me. Greetings.

Ankit Malik posted on 2015-02-26

I hope you can give me some more insights like what are the issues you face generally while importing visio in ARIS (Business Architect or IT Architect V7.2) (for ex- loss of data, relationships between objects)...what do you suggest if you would have to choose in between two options either design the models from the scratch or import from Visio ? Is there any option needs to be selected specifically if I want to convert the business process models in EPC or BPMN 2.0.. Does version 7.2 support this functionality.. your response would be highly appreciated

Guy Deroose posted on 2015-02-26

Importing Visio files is helpful if great volumes of process information can be recuperated. By doing so, respecting naming conventions and process scoping is sometimes considered a change management effort that is helpfull and appreciated by the business. You can map imported Visio symbols to certain Aris symbols as long as the same process ontology is applicable. That ontology will determine if BPMN or EPC is preferable depending on the level of process mapping you are dealing with. If Visio is the standard tool for front-end business engineering, by enforcing (governance) the use of stencils that are already oriented to your ARIS import you avoid a lot of manual work. To conclude, the inevitable switch from ARIS 7.2 to ARIS 9 will force you to review the feasibility of your Visio import procedures. Some strategic technical analysis is certainly needed.

Ankit Malik posted on 2015-02-27

Thanks for sharing your insights.. this is very helpful



Ankit Malik

sarasi das posted on 2016-04-22

Hi Everyone,

I am trying to import certain Visio files in ARIS.

Everything came fine but I am unable to open the "Configure Visio Mapping".

If i right click on mapping XML its showing "Configure Visio Mapping" but if i click on it nothing is opening(no popups).

Is there any other alternative way to do configure these?

Please let me know.

Thanks in advance.