Shared experience from linking IBM BlueWorks Life using the new BPMN data format

IBM BlueWorks Live (Ex Lombardi Blueprint) is a BPM SaaS solution from IBM using the BPMN modelling standard from OMG. BlueWorks is used by many consulting firms and organizations to map business processes. Nevertheless, we get many requests to link BlueWorks with other tools, e.g. to share models with Enterprise Architecture tools like Sparx Enterprise Architect or simply to publish the BlueWorks diagrams into Microsoft Visio format.

At issue is that the format of Process Modeler is IBM proprietary, BPM-X focuses the integration with BlueWorks using the new, BPMN data format. The BPMN data format is defined by the OMG to allow the interchange of BPMN diagrams.

BlueWorks offers several interfaces to exchange model data and diagram graphics:

  • XPDL v2.1 format
  • IBM Process Modeler XML v7.0
  • BPMN v2.0 format

BPM-X has an existing bi-directional integration with BlueWorks using the XPDL format. There is a drawback in using XPDL for diagram interchange: data properties, especially user defined data properties are not exchanged completely using this data format. This means that the data captured by business analysis can`t be simply exchanged by this format.

A review of the BPMN format used by BlueWorks shows that the BPMNDI (DI = diagram interchange) data in not enclosed in the exchange XML data. So IBM only shares the BPMN definitions, not the diagram information. When looking to the data properties IBM extended the XML scheme of BPMN by a property XSD (XML scheme definition) for user defined attributes.

Therefore, the standard BPMN format exported by BlueWorks Live has two major restrictions

  • Only BPMN, no BPMNDI diagram content
  • propretary XML scheme needed to descibe data properties

BPM-X’s solution extended the standard BPMN adapter to fully support BlueWorks Live. The missing diagram information is automatically generated and the data properties are read correctly from the XML exchange file.
The following figure shows a Visio diagram and the next figure shows the data extracted from a BlueWorks model.

BlueWorks Live BPMN model converted to Visio
BlueWorks Live BPMN model converted to Visio

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