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Automating a process using BPMN

BeginnerTime estimate: 20 minutes

What is BPMN?#

Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is the global standard for process modeling. Combining BPMN, an easy-to-adopt visual modeling language, with Camunda, you can easily automate your business processes.

Processes are the algorithms that determine how an organization runs based on independent tasks. Successful businesses grow from proven, effective processes. Therefore, Camunda’s workflow engine executes processes defined in BPMN to ensure these processes can be swiftly orchestrated within a diagram.

Take the following example where we've outlined a process in a BPMN diagram to send an email. Don't worry too much about the symbols as we'll get to that shortly. For now, recognize the start and end of the process, comprised of entering a message, and sending the email.

sending email bmmn diagram

BPMN offers control and visibility over your critical business processes. The workflow engine orchestrates processes that span across a wide variety of elements, including APIs, microservices, business decisions and rules, human work, IoT devices, RPA bots, and more.

Set up#

At Camunda, you can utilize Modeler to build out BPMN diagrams.

Begin building out your process diagrams within Camunda Cloud using Cloud Modeler. To get started, ensure you’ve created a Camunda Cloud account.

Getting started with BPMN#

Once logged in to your Camunda Cloud account, take the following steps:

  1. Click the Diagrams tab in the top navigation bar.
  2. Click Create New Diagram.
  3. Select the three vertical dots next to New Diagram on the top left corner of the page to rename the diagram. In this case, we'll name it "Bake a Cake."

BPMN elements#

Before building out the diagram to bake a cake, let's examine the significance of the components on the left side of the screen.

You can build out a BPMN diagram for a process using several elements, including the following:

  • Events: The things that happen. For example, start and end events which begin and terminate the process.
  • Tasks: For example, user tasks for a particular user to complete, or service tasks to invoke various webservices.
  • Gateways: For example, parallel gateways that move the process along between two tasks at the same time.
  • Subprocesses: For example, a transaction subprocess which can be used to group multiple activities to a transaction.

For a complete list of BPMN elements and their capabilities, visit the BPMN reference material.

BPMN in action#

Using these elements, let's build out a BPMN diagram to examine the process of baking a cake.

Take the following steps:

  1. On our diagram, we've already been given an element as a start event in the shape of a circle. Click on the circle, and then the wrench icon to adjust this element. For now, keep it as a start event. Double click on the circle to add text.
  2. Drag and drop an arrow to the first task (the rectangle shape), or click the start event, and then click the task element to automatically attach it.
  3. Click on the task, then click on the wrench icon to declare it a user task, which will be named "Purchase Ingredients." Note that each element added has adjustable attributes. Use the properties panel on the right side of the page to adjust these attributes.
  4. Click on the user task to connect a gateway to it. By clicking the wrench icon on the gateway and declaring it a parallel gateway, you can connect it to two tasks that can happen at the same time: mixing the ingredients, and preheating the oven.

baking a cake bpmn sample

  1. Attach the next gateway once these two tasks have completed to move forward.
  2. Add a user task to bake the cake, and finally a user task to ice the cake.
  3. Add an end event, represented by a bold circle.
  4. Click Save.

completed bpmn diagram


You can also import a BPMN diagram with Cloud Modeler. Click Import New Diagram in the context menu.

import diagram

Execute your process diagram#


If a BPMN diagram is only saved, it has no effect on your cluster(s). It can be used by all members of your organization.

When you deploy the diagram, it becomes available on the selected cluster and new instances can start.

To execute your completed process diagram, click Save. Then, click Execute > Save and Deploy.

You can now start a new process instance to initiate your process diagram. Click the Execute dropdown, and then Start Instance.

You can now monitor your instances in Operate. From your diagram, click the Execute dropdown, and View Process Instances. This will automatically take you to Camunda Operate to monitor your running instances.

You can also visit an ongoing list of user tasks required in your BPMN diagram. Click the Execute dropdown, and View User Tasks to automatically be taken to Tasklist.

Additional resources and next steps#