Frank's Blog

BPMN and the Event-based Gateway 

Today I would like to tell you something about BPMN's Event-based Gateway. If you don't remember it by now, maybe you do by taking a closer look:



The shape of the Event-based gateway changed from BPMN 1.0 to BPMN 1.1. Both types of Gateways (Event-based or Exclusive) make a decision, i.e. only one of the outgoing Sequence Flows is taken. Only one of the Gateways, however, is used for joining Sequence Flows. That one is the Exclusive Gateway (please keep this in mind when modeling).

But what are the differences between the two types of Gateways, which make a decision leading to the activation of exactly one of the outgoing Sequence Flows? Here are the golden rules:

1. An Exclusive Gateway is always used when the decision is internally (up to you, based on locally available information).
2. An Event-based Gateway must be used when the decision is externally (up to others, based on distributed events).

Consider for instance a simple business process of getting in touch with a friend:



You could either choose to write a letter or make a phone call. The decision on how to get in touch is made in the Exclusive Gateway numbered with (1). Please note, that the decision on how to get in touch is completely up to you. The Sequence Flows are joined with Exclusive Gateway numbered with (2).

The corresponding business process of your friend, however, can not anticipate how you will get in touch with him. He needs to support both cases, where the decision is triggered externally:



The decision is made in the Event-based Gateway (3), based on the directly following Event that is triggered first. The flows are joined, once again, by an Exclusive Gateway, in (4).

The difference becomes immediately visible when the two business processes are brought together to form a choreography:



It can be clearly seen that the decision is made in the upper Pool, whereas the lower Pool can only react to that decision.

Now, hopefully, I will never see a BPD with a wrong use of the Event-based Gateway anymore (and I've seen way too much).
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BizAgi Process Modeler with Frapu Stencils 

The BizAgi Process Modeler now sports an import option for Visio files using the BPMN 1.0 stencils that I offer here.



Thanks to Matthias Weidlich for pointing me to this feature of BizAgi Process Modeler.
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Still alive 

Yes, it's time for me to give a ping that I'm still alive. In addition to my job transition to inubit AG, I also moved to a new apartment. To get a bit out of the theoretical thoughts, I assembled the IKEA kitchen together with my brother---85 flat boxes and more than 600 kilogram in weight. That took quite some time and should be a good excuse.

But now I'm back into business---semantics this time. While semantic (web) has been claimed to be the next big thing(tm) for some time now, the excitement has settled. While some might claim that it's dead at all, I think some important preconditions have matured in the meantime. Most of it can be found at the Semantic Web Activity Homepage of the W3C.

In particular, the Resource Description Framework (RDF) and its variants such as RDFS (schema) and RDFA (annotations), SPARQL as a query language for RDF, and the Web Ontology Language (OWL) provide a number of interesting technologies to really integrate semantics into products. I'm not talking about the blue from the sky, but rather about simple, pragmatic things like data mappings or business rules that are connected to business processes and organigrams via ontologies.

An important step is the integration of an RDF database into Oracle 11g. It's not that I personally like to spend sooo much money, but it means that there's a professional, performance optimized RDF store available.

Last but not least, I'm still working on bringing you an updated introduction to the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN). It will be based on a chapter of a technical report that I wrote some years ago, but covers BPMN 1.1. In the meantime you can take a look at the old report here.
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inubit AG 

Today I removed my "Search for: Job" entry at xing.com. After years of study, I finally start working fulltime in the industry, beginning in April 2008. My new employer will be the inubit AG, a Berlin-based BPM software company. The title of my job position will be "Research Engineer" and according to this, I'm joining inubit AG in further advancing the success of their product. I will also be responsible for supporting Master and Diploma theses. If you are looking forward to one in the area of BPM, we should definitely get in contact.
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Enhanced eEPCs 

Today was the first time in my life that I wished for eEPC (enhanced event-driven process chains) stencils for OmniGraffle. Hence, I created a simple set that you can download here. The beautiful things that you can do with them are depicted below:



I introduced two visual extensions to the eEPC notation in the example. First, I'm depicting often executed functions larger, whereas seldom used functions are shown smaller. The same holds for events, systems, and roles. Via these simple layout changes, an immediate feedback of the important parts of an eEPC is given. This is quite important, since EPCs usually fill walls. As a second extension, I also depicted the often traversed edges in the diagram in bold. This also adds to an immediate visual feedback for the viewer. In my example, I simply assumed the important parts. If you have log data or annotations available, you could even simply automatically enhance your diagram.
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