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    BPM-X® Designer for Visio and Aris

    BPM-X offers seamless translation of ARIS® model data and diagrams to Microsoft® Visio® and SharePoint®.

    The ARIS® Express tool is a cost-free process modeling tool that aims for companies that only have limited budgets available. This article investigates how ARIS® Express match against Microsoft® Office Visio® in conjunction with the BPM-X Designer for Visio add-in.

    The comparison table below highlights important key features of business process modeling software in terms of methodology, data exchange capabilities and application features as such. Learn more about Visio® and BPM-X Designer and the solution to bi-directionally link ARIS® with Visio®.

    Feature ARISExpress Microsoft® Office Visio® with BPM-X Designer


    Has a fixed number of diagram types such as

    • value-added chain (called process landscape)
    • and event-driven process chain (called business process).

    There is

    • no way to create new diagram types,
    • no way to modify an existing diagram type by adding or removing symbols,
    • no compliance with your individual ARIS® filter.

    Includes an open metamodel to change or add new diagram types. Fully flexible approach to creating your own methodology or to match your project-specific ARIS® filter:

    • Full method capability and ARIS® filter compliant.
    • A library of more than 200 diagram types ready to use.
    • Open metamodel.
    • Dynamic symbol library, extendable.
    • Shape descriptions dynamically created from method language.
    • Visio properties flexibly mapped to any ARIS® attributes (see below).
    • Shape designer

    No swimlanes.


    Comes with various swimlane diagram types like

    • vertical swimlanes,
    • horizontal swimlanes,
    • table diagram (horizontal and vertical),
    • matrix diagram type.


    • Fixed set of only very few useful attributes such as NAME or DESCRIPTION.
    • Only string data type of fixed length.
    • Unlimited selection of attributes and descriptions, free to be defined within the method.
    • Attributes with data types (string, currency, date, numbers etc.)
    • Own data types with regular expression validation.

    Only supports object definitions, no object occurrences.

    • Support of object definitions and object occurrences.
    • Support of object masterdata to ensure proper usage of object occurrences.


    No assignment of models controlled by methodology. Only limited linkage to documents.

    • Model assignments are fully supported and controlled by the methodology.
    • Assignments are checked within the allowed method.
    • Unlimited linkage to documents

    Data Exchange

    • Only unidirectional import of ARIS® Express models into full versions of ARIS®, e.g. ARIS® Business Architect.
    • No usage of existing ARIS models, that is no import from e.g. ARIS® Business Designer into ARIS® Express.
    • Issues and limitations with merging Express models into full version ARIS models: ARIS® Express handles only definition copies not occurrences.

    The BPM-X middleware allows for full model roundtrips between different platforms (e.g. Visio® and ARIS®):

    • Bidirectional model exchange between the Visio® and ARIS® platform with no loss of data.
    • Full exchange of model graphics and model data.
    • Object identities are assured by using the same GUIDs on all platforms.
    • Object definitions and object occurrences are distinguished to allow for a coherent use of masterdata objects (app systems, org units, positions etc.) as occurrence copies.
    • The built-in BPM-X Model Explorer makes it easy to work with nested group structures and to reuse masterdata.

    Rather limited Visio import capabilities.

    • This is Visio®.
    • Very flexible and method-compliant import of model contents from a broad range of process modeling platforms (including native Visio® diagrams) by using BPM-X middleware.
    • All enterprise standards and conventions defined in your ARIS® filter will be available in Visio®.


    • Not a Microsoft® Office-like product.
    • It is a Java™-based application without Office look and feel.
    • Visio® is part of the Microsoft® Office suite.
    • The BPM-X Designer add-in extends Visio® to be fully method-compliant with the ARIS® Platform.
    • The well-proven Visio® GUI is completely available.
    • Visio 2003, 2007 and 2010 are supported.


    Very limited language support

    Full and flexible language support in terms of GUI, method and content languages:

    • Selectable GUI languages, e.g. English, German, Spanish, Japanese, Russian.
    • Selectable method languages, e.g. English, German, etc.
    • All Windows®-supported languages for model contents; Unicode-based with Kanji support.
    • Multiple content languages may easily be maintained within models.


    Limited to free form shapes such as rectangles and circles.

    Large gallery of master shapes for a variety of diagram types.


    No model validations available.

    • Existing validation library with validation rules such as “Shape has to be connected to another shape” etc.
    • Create your own validations with Microsoft® Visual Basic® for Applications (VBA) script language.


    No application, method or symbol customizing available.

    • Fully flexible customizing with VBA.
    • Fully flexible method and shape customizing.

    While ARIS® Express is a cost-free tool, its capabilities in terms of flexibility and completeness of vision of an accessible process modeling tool clearly lag behind Visio® and the BPM-X Designer add-in. Microsoft® Office Visio® is already available in many companies as it is the de-facto standard visualization solution in the market. With its significant value addition, the BPM-X Designer add-in comes at a surprisingly moderate price which is affordable even for limited budgets.

    Learn more about Visio and BPM-X Designer.



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