Open XPDL 2.0 documents in Process Designer

Easy to use diagramming tools that support BPMN (a graphical notation with standardized shapes for business processes) and mapping to XPDL enable business users to exchange process maps with developers who implement the process in advanced process modeling applications, such as Process Designer.

XML for Process Definition Language (XPDL) provides a standardized XML file format that can be used to interchange process models between tools. This direct communication eliminates the time-consuming task of recreating the steps and routes in the process modeling application.

Some diagramming tools can produce process diagrams that associate data with various steps in the process, but they are not designed to implement the full range of processing logic required for a functional automated process. When the workflow author opens those diagrams in Process Designer, he must specify the appropriate participants or queues for each step, conditions for routes, appropriate system functions, and other items to create a functional workflow definition.

BPMN elements

The BPMN standard provides a set of graphical elements that business users can use to create easy to understand diagrams to exchange with other users either directly or in XPDL format. Each advanced process modeling application supports a subset of the list of elements. The table below shows the mapping of standard BPMN shapes to Process Designer objects.

The XPDL 2.0 specification provides great flexibility in how processes can be represented. While Process Designer can open, display, and save process maps in XPDL 2.0 format, an XPDL document from a BPMN application might not be completely represented in Process Designer. Items indicated below as not mapped are not displayed in Process Designer. If you edit the process map in Process Designer and save it in XPDL format, items identified below as unmapped BPMN constructs will be lost. Therefore, both the appearance and content might be changed when the map is opened in the original or another BPMN application.

BPMN shape BPMN entity In Process Designer Notes®
BPMN Start

BPMN Start shapes


and various other Start entities

PE launch step  PE Start step

PE general step  PE System step

If there are multiple Start entities in the XPDL file, the first one maps to the Launch or Start step; all others map to a General or System step.
BPMN Task Task PE General step  PE System step General step or System step
BPMN sub-process collapsed Sub-process collapsed PE System step System step—Call (Submap)

While the XPDL standard does not define the sub-process collapsed shape as an activity, Process Designer maps this entity to a Call system function.

BPMN sub-process expanded Sub-process expanded Submap Submap
BPMN exclusive decision Exclusive decision-merge (XOR) PE General step  PE System step Split type OR or Join type OR
BPMN Inclusive decision Inclusive decision-merge (OR) PE General step  PE System step Join type AND (not mapped to a split type)
BPMN Parallel fork Parallel fork-join (AND) PE General step  PE System step Split type AND or Join type AND
BPMN Text annotation Text annotation PE Text annotation  
BPMN Flow - normal Connection sequence

normal flow

PE Route Route with no condition
BPMN Flow - conditional Connection sequence

conditional flow

PE Route Route with condition
BPMN Flow - default Connection sequence

default flow

PE Route Route with no condition (must be last route from a step)
BPMN Connection association Connection association PE Annotation association Text annotation association

The following BPMN entities represent various types of events with triggers and results that do not map directly to objects in Process Designer. If they are present in the XPDL file, they are mapped as indicated in the table below.

BPMN shape BPMN entity In Process Designer Notes
BPMN various intermediate event shapes Various Intermediate events PE General step  PE System step General step or System step
BPMN various end event shapes Various End events PE General step  PE System step These map to General step or System step.

Although an End event might be required in some BPMN modeling applications, it is not mapped to a corresponding step in Process Designer.

BPMN Complex and Event base shapes Complex decision merge and Event base exclusive exchange (XOR) PE General step  PE System step These map to General step or System step.

Not mapped to Split type or Join type

BPMN Pool and Swimlanes Pool and Swimlanes   Pool and Swimlane information is preserved in Process Designer but not mapped.

The following BPMN entities are not mapped to objects.

BPMN shape BPMN entity
BPMN Task shapes Various task entities
BPMN Data object Artifact data object
BPMN sub-process shapes Various sub-processes entities
test Off-page connector
BPMN Group and Transaction shapes Group and Transaction entities