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Hints and Tips for Managing Process Diagram Layout (or How to Manage your Diagram's Layout without Going Mad!)

By Mark Ketteman posted Tue December 21, 2021 09:41 AM

Blueworks Live is a fantastic tool for modelling Business Processes, but sometimes its automatic layout capabilities can leave the modeller a little frustrated. Here are some hints and tips to help you manage the way your diagrams look.

The main purpose of milestones is to show the key transitions in your business process. In doing this they create discrete sections for your diagram. It is far easier to manipulate the look of the diagram if the model has milestones. Many of the diagramming frustration that I have seen in real life comes from only having a single milestone for the whole model.

Flow Lines
Learn to love Blueworks’ need to preserve valid flow lines. Blueworks enforces the BPMN standard that requires activities, gateways and intermediate events to have an entry and an exit flow line. This behaviour is burned into the product. Understanding that you cannot "orphan" the items on your diagram will help you to cope with how the flow lines work.  You will need to add valid flow lines into the model before you can delete the lines that you do not need.

Swim Lane Order
One simple way to sort out crossed lines and other simple format problems is to rearrange your swimlanes. Try dragging swimlanes up or down and see how this changes your layout. I find that it is best to start by getting the swimlanes in the order in which they are first used from top down.

Grey Bars
When you move something look for the grey bars that indicate a safe landing spot. Blueworks will show you where you can drop a dragged item. Experiment with moving activities above or below preceding activities and see how the layout changes.

Item pinning
Items on the diagram can be "pinned". Right click on an item the select "Pin activity". This will maintain the current position of this selection when possible. This is very effective when you use the Marquee select tool; you can then pin whole areas of your diagram. This means that when you have a part of your diagram looking just right you can preserve that section.

Using "Show as Link”
If you have a very long flow line, or one that simply has to cross other lines you can turn that flow line into a link. Simply right-click on the flow line and select "Show as link". Then name your link. The name will be the same at each end of the link.

Using sub-processes
If part of your diagram is getting very complex consider using a sub-process to collapse that section. If the "story" of your process can be told using sub-processes with a "drill down for detail" option consider this approach.

Using Linked processes
Sometimes it is a good idea to build a simple high level model with linked processes modelling the detail. Consider breaking a complex model down in this way; especially if the high level view can be used to convey sufficient overview details for your target audience.

In this brief post I have listed eight ideas to help you to get your Blueworks Live process Blueprint diagrams looking how you want them. If you have any additional hints and tips please add them to the comments for this post.
#process mining