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BPMN Roundtrip works: Interchange Demo with 8 Tools

OMG BPMN MIWGIt’s already been a while ago, but something really remarkable happened in the BPMN community: At the OMG Technical Meeting in Berlin the BPMN Model Interchange Working Group (MIWG) performed a demonstration of the process model interchange currently possible with BPMN 2.0 compliant tools. No less than eight different tools of six different vendors took part in the demo and collaboratively modeled, visualized and executed a single BPMN process model.

A BPMN Roundtrip with 8 Tools

The example we used is the famous camunda invoice process, which is a small but real world example that is even used in production. Zbigniew Misiak from BOC Group started by modeling a first pool with a couple of activities in their process modeling tools called ADONIS. Sven Wagner-Boysen from Signavio added a second pool using the Signavio Process Editor. Denis Gagné from Trisotech added another lane to the second pool using the Trisotech BPMN Web Modeler. Tim Stephenson added a third lane using the Yaoqiang BPMN Editor.

That completed the visual part of the model. I continued by adding technical attributes with camunda Modeler in Eclipse to make the model executable. The I deployed the process to the camunda BPM platform and executed it. This proofed that the modeling tools provided valid BPMN and the interchange had worked not only visually but also with all the underlying model attributes. To stretch that last point even further, we completed the roundtrip by reopening the process again in ADONIS – the tool where it all started. There we could also inspect all the technical attributes. Francois Bonnet from W4 Global spontaneously joined the demo and showed that their tool Business First can also import the model. During the demo the BPMN file was passed arround using a USB key and the entire session has been recorded on video. This presentation on slideshare shows screenshots of all the tools:

Presentation: BPMN Model Interchange Demo from camunda

Why is this remarkable?

I think, it’s fair to say that this was the first time ever, that so many BPMN tools collaborated on a single process model. This was only possible, because the test suite created by the MIWG allowed the participating vendors to improve their software and reach this state of interoperability. So far, all BPMN tools tested by the MIWG had some issues where they did not conform to the specification. That is no surprise given that the specification is quite complex and not trivial to implement. Currently, 15 different software products participate in the tests and many more are member of the working group. BPMN vendors as well as users are invited to run the tests and submit results for their tools. The Model Interchange Working Group sees itself as an external quality assurance team, that helps you to get BPMN import and export right. Contact us if you are interested!

Another remarkable fact is, that Open Source tools like Yaoqiang and camunda BPM played very well in this demo and already proofed since the start of the MIWG that they can react very quickly to issues with their frequent releases.

Application to Business-IT Alignment

For camunda this achievement is really important, because we believe that different stakeholders in a BPM project should be able to use different modeling tools tailored to their specific needs: Business users are often better catered for with pure modeling tools like Signavio or ADONIS, whereas technical engineers need a development environment like the camunda Modeler in Eclipse. This way everybody can work with a tool he or she is most productive with. Using multiple tools obviously requires model interchange an that’s we at camunda engage in the MIWG and even chair its Test Automation Sub-Group.

Screenshot of camunda Cycle However, camunda’s vision for collaboration with BPMN goes far beyond having a manual import and export feature in each tool as demonstrated in the chain of eight. In an additional demo I showed camunda Cycle: A tool that connects to model repositories of different modeling tools to synchronize process models between them. The particular demo involved roundtrip between Signavio and camunda Modeler. I made some changes to the model in camunda Modeler and synchronized them into Signavio, where the changes where visualized using their graphical diff.

camunda invites vendors of BPMN modeling tools to create APIs that allow for automating model synchronization and roundtrip. Contact us if you are interested in connecting your tool to camunda Cycle.


OMG’s Official Press Release

Full Video of the Chain Demo:

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