Editing diagrams

This section explains the basic modeling functions of the Editor. If you are already familiar with this and like to learn about modeling in a specific notation or setting, you can refer to the following chapters:

Creating a new diagram

To create a new diagram, do as follows:

  1. Click New in the Signavio Explorer’s top drop-down menu.

  2. Click the diagram type you would like to create a new diagram of.

    Creating a new BPMN 2.0 diagram

    Creating a new BPMN 2.0 diagram

  3. The Editor opens in a new tab, showing the blank canvas of a new diagram. You can now start to add modeling elements.

Opening diagrams

  • In order to open a diagram, double-click the diagram you want to edit in the Explorer, alternatively, you can select the diagram and click Edit and then Edit diagram in the top drop-down menu of the Signavio Explorer.
Go to 'Edit', then 'Edit diagram'

Click ‘Edit’, then ‘Edit diagram’

  • The Editor opens in a new browser tab or window.
  • Once the page has finished loading, you can start editing the diagram.

Hint: It is possible to use multiple languages in one workspace. If you open a diagram without having a default language set, the system will ask you to choose one.

Important: In case there are problems with your browser, please go to http://www.signavio.com/browser-compatibility/ to see if your browser is supported. Switch to a supported browser, if necessary.

Saving diagrams

  • Click the Save button in the toolbar or use the key combination Ctrl+S to open the Save dialog.
Save the diagram.

Save the diagram.

  • The Save dialog opens:
The 'Save' dialog

The ‘Save’ dialog

  • Enter a title (or change the current title).
  • Add a revision comment to explain what you changed regarding the previous version. These comments will be visible in the version overview so you and your collaborating colleagues can track the changes you made to the different versions of a diagram.
  • Click Save.

Save as...

The Save as functionality allows you to save a copy of the current diagram under a different name. The new diagram will be created in the same folder.

Save a copy.

Save a copy.

Hint: If you want to edit the copy, you have to follow the link displayed after saving. The diagram that is still open in the same browser tab is the original!

Open the diagram in a new tab to edit the copy.

Open the diagram in a new tab to edit the copy.

Editing Diagrams

You have already created a new diagram or opened an existing diagram.

Now, there are multiple ways to add modeling elements to a diagram.

  • Drag and drop elements from the shape repository on the left side.
  • Once there are elements in the diagram, you can use the interactive shortcut menu to add more elements.
  • You can copy and paste elements

Adding elements using the shape repository

The shape repository in the left column of the Editor displays all modeling elements available in the current modeling language (here: BPMN 2.0). To change the shape repository’s subset, click the subset that is currently activated above the shape repository and choose another one. In case of BPMN 2.0 (Complete), the elements are grouped (e.g. activities, gateways, swimlanes, etc.).

  • Choose the element in the shape repository that you want to add to your diagram. Click and hold the mouse button on the element and drag the element to a position on the diagram where you want to drop it.
  • The green icon shows you where you can drop the element. This might depend on whether an element can be added to another element. For instance, a BPMN pool cannot be added to a task.
Drag & Drop functionality for adding elements from the shape repository.

Drag & Drop functionality for adding elements from the shape repository.

  • You can label most elements. Double-click the element and a text box will appear if it can be labled.
Label a modeling element.

Label a modeling element.

  • The position of labels can be changed via Drag&Drop.
Labels can be moved around, automatic snapping will adjust their position.

Labels can be moved around, automatic snapping will adjust their position.

Adding elements using the interactive context menu

You can save time by using the interactive shortcut menu. Depending on the currently selected shape, the menu suggests which modeling element might be added next.

Hint: The currently activated subset of modeling elements influences the elements you can add through the interactive shortcut menu. If the element you want to add doesn’t appear in the interactive shortcut menu, this could be due to the wrong subset being active on the left hand list of available elements.

  • Select an element in the diagram (e.g. a task). The shortcut menu will appear right of the element.
  • Click the icon of the element you want to add (e.g. another task or an end event).
  • The new element appears in the diagram.
the interactive shortcut menu

The interactive shortcut menu

If you want to position a newly created element yourself, you can also click the icon and drag the element to the desired position.

Dashed orientation lines help aligning modeling elements.

Dashed orientation lines help aligning modeling elements.

Hint: The type of connector that is created between the selected element and the newly created element will be determined automatically. In BPMN, this will usually be a sequence flow. When adding text annotations or data objects, it will be an association. Sometimes it might even be a message flow.

Editing attributes

Modeling elements often come with a range of properties you can edit, called attributes. Some of these variables may influence the visual appearance (e.g. the background color or label of an element), other ‘invisible’ attributes are necessary to understand a process or to execute it. Such are for example an elements description, a linked dictionary entry or the decision logic defined for a decision in a DMN diagram. These properties can be altered in the attribute panel on the right. It can be expanded by clicking the gray bar labeled Attributes on the right side of the Editor window. Most visual attributes can also be altered in the Editor’s top tool bar, though the attribute panel usually provides more options. You can also define diagram-wide attributes in the panel by clicking onto an empty piece of modeling canvas. In our example, we want to set the loop type of a BPMN Task:

Open the attribute panel.

Open the attribute panel.

To set the loop type of a Task, proceed as follows:

  • Open the attribute panel on the right side of the Editor by clicking the arrow button.
  • Select the loop type attribute and select the loop type, e.g. Standard for a looped task or MI Parallel for a multiple instances task.
Set the Task's loop type.

Set the Task’s loop type.

  • Unselect the attribute and the change will take effect. You will see the loop or multi instance icon in the task shape.

Hint: The upper section of the attribute panel contains custom attributes which can be individually defined by your workspace administrators. Custom attributes can be defined, edited and removed via the Define notations/attributes dialog.

The attributes are divided into categories. Their content can be hidden by clicking the - symbol next to them.

A category can also be collapsed or expanded by clicking its name.

A category can also be collapsed or expanded by clicking its name.

It is possible to sort the attributes in alphanumerical order. Clicking the head of the Name column sorts the attributes depending on their category and name.

Sort the attributes by clicking the header of the 'Name' column.

Sort the attributes by clicking the header of the ‘Name’ column.

Copying elements

The copy functionality simplifies creating many similar elements with complex but similar values. It also allows to re-use parts of old diagrams by copying some of their elements and pasting them into a new diagram.

  • Select the element(s) you want to copy. Use the Shift or Ctrl key combinations to select multiple elements.
  • Use the combinations Ctrl + C to copy, Ctrl + X to cut and Ctrl + V to paste elements.
Copy elements.

Copy elements.

Hint

Using this functionality to copy elements between different diagrams may take a while, as they are copied to the server first. Also, an Internet connection is required for copying elements between diagrams, but not for copying elements inside one diagram.

Changing the type of modeling elements

The transformation functionality lets you switch easily from one element type to another. In BPMN, for instance, you can turn

  • a task into a subprocess
  • a plain start event into a message start event
  • a collapsed pool into an expanded pool
  • ...

To transform an element, proceed as follows:

  • Select the element you want to transform.
  • Click the transform shape/wrench icon below the element.
  • Select the type you want to change the element to:
Transform a task into a subprocess.

Transform a task into a subprocess.

Hint

Some changes that affect the appearance and behavior of a modeling element but not its actual type can be performed in the attribute editor on the right. E.g., if a canceling intermediate timer event has to be changed to a non-canceling intermediate timer event (with a dotted border), the attribute cancel activity has to be set to false.

Moving Elements

You can move elements easily to a new position using drag & drop. To simplify the alignment, dotted orientation lines will appear and snapping to other elements will be activated.

Dotted orientation lines simplify the alignment of elements.

Dotted orientation lines simplify the alignment of elements.

If the new position of your element is not valid because it breaks containment rules, it is signalized by red or green markers.

While modeling a BPMN-diagram, a task is supposed to be dropped into a pool. As a BPMN pool can include a task, green markers appear at the corners of the pool.

While modeling a BPMN-diagram, a task is supposed to be dropped into a pool. As a BPMN pool can include a task, green markers appear at the corners of the pool.

While modeling a BPMN-diagram, a pool is supposed to be dropped into a task. As a task cannot include a pool, red markers appear at the corners of the task.

While modeling a BPMN-diagram, a pool is supposed to be dropped into a task. As a task cannot include a pool, red markers appear at the corners of the task.

Hitting special keys while moving an element affects the “move”-functionality:

  • Alt or Ctrl: Move without automatic snapping and orientation lines
  • Shift: Move along a horizontal or vertical line

These functionalities can also be combined.

Removing elements

  • Select the modeling elements you want to remove.
  • Hit the “Del”-key on your keyboard or click the Delete button in the toolbar:
Delete an element.

Delete an element.

Cut, copy and paste functionality is available with the key combinations Ctrl+ X, Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V or via the corresponding buttons in the toolbar.

Hint

You can select multiple elements by either using the Ctrl key on your keyboard or by drawing selection frames on the canvas.

Undo / Redo

You can undo all changes made to a diagram by clicking the Undo button. Redo functionality is available via the Redo button.

Undo an editing action.

Undo an editing action.

Alternatively, you can use the key combinations Ctrl + Y, and Ctrl + Z.

Resizing the canvas

If you move you cursor over the edges of the canvas, left and right arrows will appear

Increasing the canvas size

Click those arrows to shorten or extend the canvas. This allows you to create more complex and bigger diagrams. Use the zoom functionality to fit a large diagram to the screen.

Hint: Shortening the canvas is impossible if there are elements in the affected area.

Changing a diagram’s title

On the upper left corner, you see the title of the diagram. Click it to activate editing. It is also possible to change the title when saving the diagram.

Changing the title

Zooming

Signavio’s zooming feature simplifies editing larger diagrams, especially when using a device with a relatively small screen.

To zoom in and out, simply click the corresponding button in the top toolbar:

Zoom in.

Zoom in.

Zoom out.

Zoom out.

To return to the standard zoom level and see the diagram in its default size, click the button Zoom to the standard level:

Display the diagram in its default size.

Display the diagram in its default size.

Click Zoom to fit the model size in order to have the whole diagram canvas displayed in your browser:

Display the whole diagram.

Display the whole diagram.

You have now acquired basic modeling skills in the Signavio Process Manager, you can continue to the chapters BPMN modeling, DMN modeling, ArchiMate or Value Chains to learn about a specific notation or continue to the next chapter if you would like to know more about process editing and formatting diagrams.