The new release of the Intalio 5.2 process modeler includes the BPMN 1.1 notation. This modeling tool is a free download, and runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
For those who have previously used Visio, there are a few things to learn about the tool. First off, it’s a pure BPMN modeler, built for this specific purpose only, unlike Visio that is a general purpose tool that allows you to use any kind of shapes. At first there might be a small learning curve to find the various tools and widgets, but after some practice you might find it to be a much more efficient modeling tool.
I like to model processes at the speed of conversation. This means that I can capture requirements in the tool, as opposed to making notes and later interpreting into a diagram (often an inaccurate process). Instead of causing my audience to wait while I play with the software trying to get it to do as I want, the diagram practically draws its self.
The most powerful BPMN modeling features include:
- The “change shape to..” function: Allows you to start out with a basic task shape and change it to any BPMN shape later. In comparison, with Visio you must delete the shape and redraw it from the pallet.
- Searching for shapes on the pallet is a thing of the past: The various popup menus can be used instead. This is a feature for those that already know the shapes and want to access them quickly.
- Automatic line routing: No need to carefully connect to a specific point on the edges of shapes. Drag and drop lines quickly to the center of a shape and the line automatically connects to the correct spot (left to right BPMN style).
- Insert space tool: Hold down the space bar, click, and drag to the right or left. This inserts whitespace in a pool so that you can easily insert shapes between others.
- Pools automatically resize without overlapping: If you move a shape in a pool to outside the boundary, the pool will automatically resize. The resize will not cause an overlap with other pools.
- Set to throwing/catching event types: Instead of having to redraw a BPMN 1.1 event shape to throwing/catching (black/white filled), you can access this capability with a simple right click.
- Alignment tool: A blue line pops up when you are close to another shape, and shows when two shapes are aligned with each other. Works both horizontally and vertically. No need to “snap to grid” and deal with the annoyances of the grid size not matching the shape’s geometry.
- No need to export to another tool to make it executable: Intalio focuses on creating fully executable process models. The BPMN diagram is directly translated into BPEL code. However, you don’t have to use the functionality. Certain features can be turned off that makes it a pure modeling tool. Later, when you are ready to take it to the next step, the diagrams can be converted into a software runtime.
Of course, everyone has their preferences. If you are happy with your modeling tool, more power to you. But if you are looking for a cheap, efficient, powerful BPMN 1.1 modeling tool, check out Intalio.