Frank Weyand's picture

Today, I want to give you a preview of a feature which comes with Express Release - and which you don't want to miss.

Did you ever wanted to have a way to enter your processes or organizational chart fast without moving any objects around? That you could concentrate just on the data itself without the effort of placing it correctly?

Well, then we've got something for you.

The SmartDesign – structured editing for structured data

I created that little example below:

It took me 14 (in words: fourteen!) seconds to create that hierarchy. Try to beat that modeling by hand (yes, I know, you can create a fragment and you need just 2 seconds to place it, but that does not count).

How does it work?

The SmartDesign provides a user interface to capture your data within a table. You can yourself concentrate on capturing your data, Express can place that objects for you. If you do not like the layout result, you can change that manually or by using the Layout mechanism.

The SmartDesign editor looks like this for the given example (for a better understanding, I maintained the object names):

In the first column, you see the hierarchy. Like in well known office applications, you can navigate around with the cursor keys and type in the data you want. Just by pressing "Enter", you can create new objects in the hierarchy, or specify objects connected to the hierarchy objects, like the assignment of persons to an organizational structure.

For every model type available in Express, we provide such a SmartDesign. The following example is the provided SmartDesign for the business process:

You can add additional columns, if the offered ones are not sufficient.

Can I edit existing models?

Yes, as long as a definition for a corresponding SmartDesign exists which fits to the object. That brings us directly to the next topic:

Editing branches in a process

If a process contains "non-structured" flows, like loops, cross links between branches etc, it is not possible to maintain this data in a table. At least, not as long it should be easy and comprehensible. So we decided to make it possible to edit parts in a process: the process sequence.

In that model cutout, I started the SmartDesign onto the first object in the branch and added a second activity at the end of the branch. Express collects all objects with can be used in the structure editor. If I add objects, Express gives the new objects enough room. Thus, I can concentrate on "building blocks" in the process.

Logically, all structures, which can be created in the SmartDesign, can also edit it later on the same way.

The main idea

Mainly, there are two principles:

  1. Don't use your mouse. It is simply not necessary. You can do, but it does not bring you anything, you're faster with the keyboard.
    Just click a toolbar button to create a new structure in an empty model, or select an object in an existing one and let Express build up the structure: just by navigating with cursor or TAB key, you can fast navigate through all objects.


  2. Concentrate on your data, not the layout. Express places the objects for you. In most cases, it should be sufficient. If not, you can position some of the objects after editing in SmartDesign by hand. In the background, Express positions the objects edited in the SmartDesign. But it is amazing how much time you can save just by "hacking" your data in.

As the fragments (see and the hotspots (see, this will also be available in ARIS Business Architect and ARIS Business Designer.

Here is a a short video showing SmartDesign in action. See more ARIS Express videos on our Youtube channel.