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Business Process Modelling

Changing the appearance of BPMN elements

Changing the Appearance of BPMN 2.0 Elements

By Phil Chudley

Introduction

Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect provides a very rich modelling toolset for Business Process Model and Notation 2.0 (BPMN 2.0), which is increasing in popularity particularly amongst Business Analysts.

The BPMN 2.0 notation uses a common set of symbols, which have an icon to show their meaning, for example, the type of event that triggers the start of a business process.

Each BPMN 2.0 element has a set of tagged values identified by the label BPMN 2.0 in the properties dialog.  The value in thesetagged values affects the appearance of the associated element.

Enterprise Architect can generate Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) directly from BPMN 2.0 models. This code generation uses tagged values also identified by the label BPMN 2.0.

This use of tagged values results in a large number of them to choose from and for modellers beginning with Enterprise Architect, this prospect can be rather daunting. Sparx Systems have tried to resolve this problem by grouping the tagged values into sections, but it can be challenging to know which tagged values to use.

Business Analysts will not be using the BPEL tagged values and this article presents a tabular summary of just the tagged values, which affect the appearance of BPMN 2.0 elements.

This information is in the on-line help and user guide, it is presented here for convenience.

The BPMN 2.0 Elements

Activity

The Activity element used on Collaboration and Business Process diagrams uses the following tagged values to change its appearance.

Tagged Value Group Tagged Value Name Values Effect
Activity activityType Task
Sub-Process
Task – displays no “plus-in-box” icon
Sub-Process – displays “plus-in-box” icon
isACalledActivity false
true
false – displays normal Activity border
true – displays bold thick border
isATransaction false
true
false – displays normal Activity border
true – displays double border
isForCompensation false
true
false – displays no “rewind” icon
true – displays “rewind” icon
Task taskType BusinessRule
Manual
Receive
Service
Send
Script
User
Abstract
Displays the corresponding BPMN 2.0 Task icon
BusinessRule is equivalent to BPMN 2.0 Conditional
AdHoc adHoc false
true
false –displays no “tilde” icon
true – displays “tilde” icon
Loop isSequential false
true
Only takes effect if loopCharacteristics is set to MultiInstance
false – displays “three vertical lines” icon
true – displays “three horizontal lines” icon
loopCharacteristics None
Standard
MultiInstance
None – displays no loop icon
Standard – displays “counter-clockwise arrow” icon
MultInstance – depends upon isSequential
Sub-Process triggeredByEvent false
true
false – displays normal Activity border
true – displays dashed border

Gateway

The Gateway element used on Choreography, Collaboration and Business Process diagrams uses the following tagged values to change its appearance.

Tagged Value Group Tagged Value Name Values Effect
Gateway gatewayType Exclusive
Complex
Inclusive
Parallel
Event
Displays the corresponding BPMN 2.0 Gateway icon
Exclusive will display icon only if markerVisible is set to true
When Event is usedeventGatewayType must be set to Exclusive
Event Gateway eventGatewayType Exclusive
Parallel
Used with instantiate to indicate type of event, displays the BPMN 2.0 event-based (instantiate) gateway icon
Instantiate false
true
false – “normal” gateway
true – event-based (instantiate) gateway
Exclusive Gateway markerVisible false
true
false – gatewayType set to Exclusive does not display icon
true – gatewayType set to Exclusive displays icon (recommended best practice)

Start Event

The Start Event element used on Choreography, Collaboration and Business Process diagrams uses the following tagged values to change its appearance.

Tagged Value Group Tagged Value Name Values Effect
Start Event eventDefintion None
Compensation
Conditional
Error
Escalation
Message
Multiple
Timer
Signal
ParallelMultiple
Displays the corresponding BPMN 2.0 Start Event icon
NOTE: Some of these values only make sense when the Start Event is used within an Event Sub-process
isInterrupting false
true
Only used when the Start Event is used within an Event Sub-process
false – displays solid border
true – displays dashed border

End Event

The End Event element used on Choreography, Collaboration and Business Process diagrams uses the following tagged values to change its appearance.

Tagged Value Group Tagged Value Name Values Effect
End Event eventDefintion None
Cancel
Compensation
Error
Escalation
Message
Multiple
Terminate
Signal
Displays the corresponding BPMN 2.0 End Event icon

Intermediate Event

The Intermediate Event element used on Collaboration and Business Process diagrams uses the following tagged values to change its appearance.

Tagged Value Group Tagged Value Name Values Effect
Intermediate Event cancelActivity true
false
Must only be used forBoundary Intermediate Events
true – displays solid double border
false – displays dashed double border
catchOrThrow Catch
Throw
Displays white icon
Displays black icon (only for non-boundary intermediate events)
eventDefintion None
Cancel
Compensation
Conditional
Escalation
Error
Link
Message
Multiple
Timer
Signal
ParallelMultiple
Displays the corresponding BPMN 2.0 Intermediate Event icon
NOTE: These settings depend upon the value of cancelActivity and if the event is a  boundary intermediate event or a non-boundary intermediate event

Pools

The Pool element used on Collaboration diagrams uses the following tagged values to change its appearance, for which there are no groups.

Tagged Value Name Values Effect
blackBoxPool false
true
false – displays Pool as a “white box” ready to contain Activities and other process flow elements
true – displays as a “black box” resembling a UML Class element
participantMultiplicity false
true
false – no icon displayed
true – displays “three vertical bars” icon

Data Object

The Data Object element used on Collaboration and Business Process diagrams uses the following tagged values to change its appearance.

Tagged Value Group Tagged Value Name Values Effect
DataObject dataInOut None
Input
Output
None – displays no icon
Input – displays a hollow arrow icon
Output displays a black arrow icon
isCollection false
true
false – displays no icon
true – displays “three vertical bars” icon to show data object represents a collection

Sequence Flow

The Sequence Flow connector drawn within Pools and Lanes on a Collaboration diagram uses the following tagged value to change its appearance, for which there are no groups.

Tagged Value Name Values Effect
conditionExpression - Text entered here will display if the conditionType is set to Expression
conditionType None
Expression
Default
None – usual form of Sequence Flow connector
Expression – adds a “hollow diamond” icon on the non-arrow end of the Sequence Flow connector
Default – adds a “slash” icon on the non-arrow end of the Sequence Flow connector

Message Flow

The Message Flow connector drawn between Pools or elements in different Pools to model B2B communication on Collaboration diagrams uses the following tagged values to change its appearance, for which there are no groups.

Tagged Value Name Values Effect
messageVisible

None

Initiating

Non-Initiating

None – usual form of Message Flow

Initiating – adds a “hollow envelope” icon on the Message Flow connector

Non-Initiating – adds a “grey envelope” icon on the Message Flow connector

Participant

The Conversation element drawn on Conversation diagrams uses the following tagged values to change its appearance, for which there are no groups.

Tagged Value Name Values Effect
participantMultiplicity

false

true

false – displays no icon

true – displays “three vertical bars” icon

Conversation

The Conversation element drawn on Conversation diagrams uses the following tagged values to change its appearance, for which there are no groups.

Tagged Value Name Values Effect
isACallConversation false
true
false – displays standard Conversation element border
true – displays  thick bold Conversation element border
isComposite false
true
false – displays no “plus-in-box” icon
true – displays “plus-in-box” icon

Choreography

The Choreography element drawn on Choreography diagrams uses the following tagged values to change its appearance.

Tagged Value Group Tagged Value Name Values Effect
Choreography choreographyType Task
Sub-Process
Task – No “plus-in-box” icon
Sub-Process – “plus-in-box” icon
isACalledChoreography false
true
false – displays standard Choreography element border
true – displays thick bold Choreography border
loopType None
Standard
MultiInstanceParallel
MultiInstanceSequential
None – displays no icon
Standard – displays “counter-clockwise arrow” icon
MultiInstanceParallel – displays “three vertical bars” icon
MultiInstanceSequential – displays “three horizontal bars” icon
Participants initiatingParticipant participantA
participantB
participantC
participantD
Clears the grey background colour from the corresponding participant section in the Choreography element
numberOfParticipants 2, 3 or 4 Creates the corresponding number of participant sections in the Choreography element
Participant A participantA Text The name of the first participant
participantAMultiplicity false
true
false – displays no icon
true – displays “three vertical bars” icon in the participantA section of the Choreography element
participantARef Selected Pool element Navigate to a Pool within the Project Browser and the name of the Pool (prefixed by <<Pool>>) is displayed in the participantA section of the Choreography element
Participant B participantB Text The name of the second participant
participantBMultiplicity false
true
false – displays no icon
true – displays “three vertical bars” icon in the participantB section of the Choreography element
participantBRef Selected Pool element Navigate to a Pool within the Project Browser and the name of the Pool (prefixed by <<Pool>>) is displayed in the participantB section of the Choreography element
Participant C participantC Text The name of the third participant
participantCMultiplicity false
true
false – displays no icon
true – displays “three vertical bars” icon in the participantC section of the Choreography element
participantCRef Selected Pool element Navigate to a Pool within the Project Browser and the name of the Pool (prefixed by <<Pool>>) is displayed in the participantC section of the Choreography element
Participant D participantD Text The name of the fourth participant
participantDMultiplicity false
true
false – displays no icon
true – displays “three vertical bars” icon in the participantD section of the Choreography element
participantDRef Selected Pool element Navigate to a Pool within the Project Browser and the name of the Pool (prefixed by <<Pool>>) is displayed in the participantD section of the Choreography element

Conclusion

This article aims to highlight those Tagged Values used to change the appearance of BPMN 2.0 elements & presents them grouped into tables according to BPMN 2.0 element type.

We hope you find this to be a useful and valuable resource when using Enterprise Architect for modelling business processes in BPMN.

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