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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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  • I used "Create from Selection" successfully once (though in the sub-process, the tasks were no longer aligned with the pools/lanes).

    I tried to use it again on a different part of the same diagram and got the error:

        An error (1) occurred during the action Move to Sub-Process.

        Unexpected end of file.

    This appears to be a bug.  Is there a workaround?



  • Hi All,

    Now that BPMN 2.0 has (just) been released, are there plans to support this? And if so,  by when?

    Many thanks.

  • My Visio 2010 version 14.0.5128.5000 (32 bit) does not have this template - what do I need to do to find it?

    Is there any plans for similar capabilities in Visual Studio 2010 ?

  • Please advise when the stencil for BPMN 2.0 will become available.

    Many thanks,


  • How do you "key" the BPMN 1.2 Attributes to the diagram shapes?

    The diagrams alone do not provide sufficient information for creating functional requirements. I cannot find any documentation to support this.

  • Is is possible to upgrade profesional to premium in order to try BPMN diagrams. I tried to install everything from very beginning and i have an error when i try to use premium key. Is there any other way to have access to BPMN from Prof version?

  • Hi,

    is it possible to include that ( BPMN template ) for Visio 2010 Professional , I need to use it but I only have Visio Professional

  • Hi there VISIO Team and Fans and Users! I just wonder, wheter VISIO 2010 support BPMN 2.0? Shapes, Validation etc.?

  • Hi, I've bought Visio 2010 premium since it says "BPMN support", but it doesn't support BPMN 2.0 XML import/export.... are there any plan to support them??

  • I am impressed with the BPMN functionality included in Visio 2010 (Professional) as described here. However, I was disappointed to discover the validation tools are only available in the Premium version of Visio. This isn't necessarily a deal breaker for me, but does mean that I have no easy way to ensure the Visio BPMN diagrams I create comply with the current OMG standard or check the Visio file XML files (XMI)

  • I`m not able to find BPMN templates on my Viso Professional 2010. Shall I separatelly install BPMN templates separatelly?

  • I have the Visio 2010 version and I want to create a BPMN diagram, but I dont see BPMN diagram under New>Flowchart. WDo you have any idea what is the problem?

  • Unfortunately, this notation doesn't easily or consistantly enable a user to capture process step numbers or performance data (Timing infrmation) using the stencil. Since this is the case, how can effective SOP's be built? or how can one talk against an activity without having step numbers visible? As a Six Sigma Black Belt, I have built my own BPMN 2.0 stencil which effectively enables me to capture the entire process along with metrics (and more).

  • Not fair - this is only in Visio 2010 Premium from what I read.  Those of us with Basic will have to make do without (not sure about Pro users but you may have to make do without as well).

  • This is lovely and hats off to Microsoft. They have cut out scores of corporate users and wondering why they are losing to the likes of IBM BlueWorks Live!

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