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BPMN support in Visio 2010

BPMN support in Visio 2010

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Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) is a standard maintained by the Object Management Group which gives businesses the ability to understand their business processes using a graphical notation and to communicate these processes in a uniform manner. The basic BPMN shapes are similar to traditional flowcharting shapes, which makes modeling in BPMN easy for new users. For advanced users, the BPMN standard contains a large number of detailed shapes—more specialized versions of the basic shapes—which are useful when modeling complex interactions or precise behaviors within a process.

Companies have told us that they would like to enforce a standardized notation, like BPMN, within their organization to ensure that processes are graphically expressed in a consistent manner. Based on this feedback, we introduced the following support for BPMN in Visio 2010.

  • We support all shapes defined in the BPMN 1.2 standard.
  • Our BPMN shapes have associated element attributes, as specified by the standard.
  • Using Diagram Validation, a user can check the visual correctness of a diagram against logical rules specified in the standard.

You can find the BPMN Diagram template under the Flowchart category on the New tab of the Backstage View.


The BPMN Diagram template contains five stencils of BPMN shapes: the BPMN Basic Shapes, BPMN Events, BPMN Activities, BPMN Gateways and BPMN Connecting Objects stencils.


For new BPMN users, all the basic BPMN shapes are located on the BPMN Basic Shapes stencil. For more advanced users, additional BPMN shapes can be derived from the basic shapes or taken from the other BPMN stencils.

You can derive a more specialized shape from a basic shape by right-clicking on the shape. The menu below shows how you would change a Task to a Standard Loop Task or a Multi-Instance Loop Task. Each of these shapes have different graphical symbols to distinguish them and different BPMN properties, or attributes, associated with them.


Notice the BPMN Attributes… option located at the bottom of the above menu. This option launches the Shape Data window which displays the shape’s BPMN attributes, properties specified by the BPMN standard. This gives advanced BPMN users to option to edit the complete set of BPMN attributes associated with a shape.

Shape Data

The BPMN Diagram template and shapes take advantage of many of the new Visio 2010 features. You will notice that the ease of use and flowcharting improvements in Visio 2010 make it easy to build visually-appealing BPMN diagrams. Below, we focus on some of the other Visio 2010 features that you will encounter when using the BPMN template and shapes.

Diagram Validation

The BPMN standard contains a large number of rules about the visual, structural and semantic properties of a diagram: these rules must be satisfied in order to comply with the standard. The standard documentation is long and it is hard for new users to understand its intricacies. We use Diagram Validation to help users ensure that their BPMN diagrams are visually conformant with the standard.

The BPMN Diagram template includes validation rules based on the BPMN 1.2 standard. This means that you can use the Check Diagram button on the Process tab to check for visual issues with your BPMN diagram. After you validate your diagram, any issues are listed in an Issues window.


To easily find shapes with issues, you can click on an issue and the corresponding shape will be selected. Once you fix the issues, you can check the diagram again to confirm that there are no longer any problems. This makes it much easier to create a BPMN-compliant diagram.


Expanded Sub-Process and Group shapes in the BPMN template are Containers. This means you can take advantage of all the built-in container logic. For example, when you move an Expanded Sub-Process, all the member shapes move automatically. In addition, when you select an Expanded Sub-Process or Group, you see the containers contextual tab, which gives you the ability to further customize these shapes.

Contextual Tab


The Text Annotation shape in the BPMN template is a Callout. A callout points at or references another shape, which we call the “target” of the callout. When a target shape is moved, copied or deleted, any callouts attached to the shape will be moved, copied or deleted too.  Thus callouts stay with their target shapes, though you can reposition the callout to any offset from its target.

Text Annotation

Cross-functional Flowcharts

The Pool /Lane shape in the BPMN template allows you to add a Pool or Lane shape to your diagram. This shape is based on our Cross-functional Flowchart (CFF) shape, which means that Pools and Lanes are easy to manipulate using CFF functionality. For example, to add more lanes, you can mouse along the edge of the cross-functional flowchart to where you want to add the lane and a blue arrow will appear. Click on the blue arrow and voila, you have a new lane!


The BPMN template combines a large number of new Visio 2010 features to make building BPMN-compliant diagrams easier. Both new and advanced BPMN users will benefit from the depth of functionality available while using this template.

We are interested in your feedback on the new BPMN functionality. You can use the Send a Smile feedback tool or comment on the blog to let us know what you think.

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  • Microsoft Visio templates in Visio 2007 helps you quickly implement new services as well as easily move, add, and make changes to existing ones. Visio 2007 download gives a wide range of templates, including logical, physical, rack, process, and asset diagrams help you visualize processes, optimize systems, track projects and resources, and resolve problems quickly. With Office Visio 2007, you can also visualize security issues on network diagrams. In addition, the Visio Toolbox Web site delivers more Visio tools, best practices, and reference materials to maximize your investment and simplify processes.  

  • This a welcome move. We were expecting it in visio 2007. A little late but certainly welcome

  • what about BPEL or ODX generation?

  • The version of BPMN that is evident from the screen shots is 1.1.

    The latest version of BPMN is 2.0. Are there any plans to address this new standard?

  • BPMN is going to help IT Diagrams and flow charts which would surely help 2010 a lot and creating Visio shapes would be taken to another  step.

  • Will there be an ability to collapse an expanded process on the diagram to hide details? Furthermore could you expand a collapsed process on a separate, linked diagram?

  • Hi Thomas.

    Visio 2010 does not natively support exporting to BPEL or ODX. Using custom code, however, it is possible to create a tool that exports the BPMN diagram to other formats.

  • Hi Gilles.

    Visio 2010 supports BPMN 1.2. Although the beta version of the BPMN 2.0 specification was released in September 2009, the final release is not scheduled until June 2010. At this point, we feel that it is better to support the currently released version of the BPMN standard.

  • Hi MV.

    We talk about subprocess support on our blog here:

    As an example, when you select several shapes in a BPMN diagram and use the “Create from Selection” button on the Process tab, Visio moves the shapes to a new subprocess page and replaces them with a subprocess shape. You can also link a shape to an existing subprocess page, or create a new page on which to build a subprocess.

  • A few years ago I worked with an application in Oracle which would transfer typed text of a process into a basic process flow.  This saved a huge amount of time!  It recognized certain verbs and would translate the writing into a picture.  It was fantastic.  what also saved time was the ability to change the text as processes change (as they always do) and it would change the picture accordingly.  Sure would be a great achievement if Visio could do this.  

  • Please Mr,

    I downloaded the Beta version of Visio 2010 and could not find the BPMN in backstage. Could you tell me where to find this model or stencils?

  • I downloaded the Beta version of Visio 2010 and could not find the BPMN in backstage. Could you tell me where to find this model or stencils?

  • Great addition - initial testing indicates this is at least on par with the 3rd party add-ons for Visio 2007.

    Where does one register for Beta feedback?  I am getting a consistent shutdown error when navigating back to the "File" tab once starting Viso 2010.

  • @ Ricardo

    You will find the BPMN elements under the Flowchart Shapes

  • Hi!

    what are the advantages of VISIO vs other tools like:

    Enterprise Architect: BPMN plu0gin (Sparx Systems),Intalio BPMS (Intalio), Business Process Visual Architect (Visual Paradigm), etc.?


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