Jim Arlow

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Recent posts by Jim Arlow

Not that I'm aware of - this is still work that needs to be done.

Jim
9 years ago
I've used BizAgi - it's a nice product. My only concern is that it lacks integration with UML (unless that's changed since I last used it), so you can't have a "one stop" tool for modelling. However, if all you want is BPMN it is OK.
9 years ago
I think it comes down to just how complex your workflow is, and how subject it is to change. Workflow tools are good and implementing complex workflows and helping you manage change to them.

For simple, static workflows, I don't see a lot of point in introducing this extra level of cost and complexity. It doesn't really give you anything back.

So some upfront analysis of the complexity of your workflow, and how likely it is to change, should answer the question for you.
9 years ago

BPMN might be overkill for my current project, there will be very little automation involved other than shuttling content from on person to the next through the various stages of completing documents.



BPMN is cerntainly very appropriate for modelling manual document flow. You can model documents as Data Objects that flow between the activities. These can have a state, so you can model the state changes the document undergoes as it traverses the process. See slides 112 to 114 of this:

http://www.slideshare.net/jimarlow/introductiontobpmn005
9 years ago
No - I do not cover it in the course or book. t is not a BPMN or UML technique, just something that you use in business. There is some more information here:

www.hull.ac.uk/php/cesagh/documents/TheBostonSquare.rtf

As you can see, there is nothing to it. It is just a quick way of categorising a project in terms of risk/reward. You want a project that is low risk/high reward to begin your BPMN work.
9 years ago
Hi Jacek,

Cameo Business Modeler standalone is not a runtime environment. If you buy it as a plug-in for MagicDraw UML, then you get runtime, code generation etc. etc. BPMN on it's own is OK, but it is very incomplete - it only models processes - you can't model static semantics such as classes, components and so on. So if you want a complete modelling solution, you need BPMN + UML and the best way to get that is as an integrated tool. I have never seen the other approach, where there are separate BPMN and UML toolsets, work in practice. This is another reason I like Cameo - you can start standalone, and very low cost, and then if you need UML, you can seamlessly move to MagicDraw with the Cameo plug-in. It's a great strategy.
9 years ago
Hi Yvette,

I would first identify the processes, then categorise them. A good way to categorise them is to use a Boston square:

Importance | High | Low |
...........| Low. | High|
................Risk

The best way to start is to choose a project that is high importance, but low risk. By low risk, I mean one that should be relatively to process model. The reason you choose high importance is to make the case for process modelling. So the project is relatively easy, and likely to succeed, but highly visible because it is high importance. If it was low importance, no one would care - so why bother. The worst case scenario is high risk, high importance, and this should be avoided until you are very comfortable in your modelling approach. Hope this helps.
9 years ago
There is this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Business_Process_Modeling_Notation_tools

There is a list of BPMN implementers here:

http://www.bpmn.org

No, I have never worked with Lombardi/BPM V8. There are a few really good BPMN 2 tools. My favorite is the Cameo Business Modeller:

http://www.nomagic.com/products/cameo-business-modeler.html
9 years ago
Further to the discussion, the XMI below, when loaded into MagicDraw UML with the Cameo BPMN 2 plug-in, creates a simple BPMN 2 model comprising a start event connected via a control flow to a task called T1, that is connected by a control flow to an end event.



The long xmi:idref strings can be replaced with your own programatically generated unique IDs. MagicDraw seems not to mind what format they are in.

I have only just tried this, and whilst it proves it works in principle, there is an issue - the task T1 is imported as an opaque action, not a task - so the XMI needs some more work.

Also note that this creates BPMN models not diagrams. You have to manually drag the model elements into a diagram in the tool. Creating diagrams is something I have not looked into.
9 years ago
Hi All, great to be back on the Ranch!
9 years ago
Hi Darren,

Have a look at the post:

What are the popular commercial and open source BPM and work flow products?



in this forum. I have started a list. Perhaps we should move it under your post.
9 years ago
Criteria for choosing a BPMN tool (in no particular order):

1) Ease of use. You have to try a few to get a feel for this. Some tools are easy and fluid to use, and some aren't.
2) Support for the BPMN 2 standard syntax and semantics. Quite a few of the so-called "BPMN modelling" tools allow you to create diagrams that are illegal according to the BPMN 2 specification. This is because they are essentially just drawing tools with a BPMN stencil. Ensure that whatever tool you use supports all of the BPMN 2 specification accurately. "introduction to BPMN 2" is good guide for this is you don't want to dive into the BPMN 2 specification:
http://www.slideshare.net/jimarlow/introductiontobpmn005
3) Speed - is it quick to produce a diagram, or is it slow and fiddly?
4) Looks - do the BPMN 2 diagrams you can create look good?
5) Do you need UML integration as part of a wider modelling strategy? So perhaps a plug-in for a UML tool rather than a stand-alone BPMN tool.
6) Price!
7) What are your modelling needs now and in the foreseeable future?
8) Is the tool choice strategic (i.e. for corporate roll-out, you will wish to use it for the foreseeable future), or tactical (one off use).
9) Do you need multi-user support so more than one person can work on a model.

I'm sure other forum members can add to this list.
9 years ago
Hi Jacek,

Yes - all those things are possible. However, you need a real modelling tool rather than a drawing program such as Visio. This is likely to be expensive, so it's always a good idea to first list your requirements for BPMN modelling so that you don't get end up with something that is very powerful, but has many features that you never use.
9 years ago
Hi Shemida,

It's funny you should ask this, because it is something I have been working on. If you use true BPMN tool such as MagicDraw, then you can save (and load) your BPMN model in XMI format. This is a standard XML based format for saving UML models. Because it is XML, you can programatically generate it in any language. When you read the programatically generated XMI back into the modelling tool, you have a model. This is the first approach.

The second approach needs a BPMN tool that has a scripting language. You can then write plug-in to generate a BPMN model from some other representation that you create programatically externally to the tool.

Personally, I find generating the XMI most flexible. I have tried this with UML and the MagicDraw, Enterprise Architect and Visual Paradigm tools, and it works a treat. It should also work for BPMN in MagicDraw (at least), because if you use MagicDraw with the Cameo BPMN plug-in, BPMN is just treated as another UML profile - so the generated XMI is standard.

In terms of working out precisely what XMI to generate, you can look at the BPMN metamodel, but in many ways it is easier to do it by inspection. So when I wrote an XMI generator for Clojure (a version of Lisp than runs on the JVM), I created simple UML models in MagicDraw and exported these as XMI. I could then see exactly how the tool was representing the model in XML, and therefore, what I needed to generate. I have a blog post on some aspects of this here:

http://www.clearviewtraining.com/blog/

It is a work in progress.
9 years ago
Hi Jean,

There are actually quite a lot of low cost possibilities. My favourite is MagicDraw Cameo Business Modeller.

http://www.nomagic.com/products/cameo-business-modeler.html

You probably only need the Analyst version. All the BPMN 2 figures in my book were done in Cameo - it produces attractive diagrams. I think its advantages are:

  • Very good price/performance ratio (only 120 Euros).
  • If you need full UML at any point, you can easily transition to MagicDraw UML with the Cameo plug-in for BPMN 2.
  • Full support for the BPMN 2 specification. This is a true BPMN modelling tool that enforces BPMN syntax and semantics. It is not just a drawing tool with a BPMN template.
  • Very accurate BPMN 2 models - syntax and semantics appear to be spot on. Some other low cost tools allow you to create syntactically or semantically incorrect BPMN, and you really don't want that.
  • Very quick and easy to use. I often site down with a stakeholder and create a model during an interview.


  • As I say, there are other tools as well, but I have had no reason to try them out because Cameo serves me so well.
    9 years ago