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Thursday, 19 November 2020 09:27

BPMN Smart Layout helper add-in for your processes in Enterprise Architect

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Business processes can be defined in Enterprise Architect with BPMN2 to achieve the following goals:

  • Use a standard and graphical notation to define processes in a consistent and unambiguous way.
    • Note: BPMN is maintained by the Object Management Group.
  • Benefit from Enterprise Architect modelling tool to replace drawings (e.g. Visio or Powerpoint):
    • Work with different levels of granularity.
    • Call a different process and open its BPMN diagram.
    • Identify and reuse common flows amongst processes.
    • Convenient navigation from/to processes or steps.
    • Use "classifier" traceability with business actors from Pools and Lanes, data models from Data Objects, etc.
    • Model search to run analysis.
  • Share and get feedback from peers via Prolaborate web solution (powered by the Pro Cloud Server).

BPMN diagrams in Enterprise Architect use the "Orthogonal Square" line style on the connectors. These are very convenient to organize the layout as it automatically creates or removes bended points.

However there is often a need to move these connectors around to finalize the view.


Takeshi Kouno from Sparx Systems Japan released the BPMN Smart Layout Add-in to address this issue.

Available via a right click on a BPMN diagram, this add-in adjusts the connectors based on the following rules:

  • Align centers of 'near' objects (both vertically and horizontally).
  • Adjust start and end points of flows to the center of object edge if related objects are aligned.
  • Adjust start or end points of flows to 'near' center of object edge.
  • Delete unnecessary bended points.


Using the BPMN Smart Layout Add-in

Below is a first example of BPMN diagram with a layout that can be improved.

BPMN Layout addin sparx ea diagram 1

The BPMN Smart Layout add-in is run on the diagram:

BPMN Layout addin run

Result: the sequence flow from the start event has been aligned.

BPMN Layout addin update

The gateway has been moved:

BPMN move gateway

Running the BPMN Smart layout again has fixed the connectors from/to the gateway via two clicks:

bpmn result layout update addin

A data object is added to completed the process:

bpmn data object

After running the BPMN smart layout addin, the BPMN message flow is aligned on the center of the Data Object.

bpmn data object layout sparx

Very easy to install and use, the BPMN Smart layout add-in solves a number of common BPMN layout issues in Enterprise Architect. Hence it should save a significant amount of time for projects involving to BPMN processes in Enterprise Architect, where the modelling task is often time consuming.

An extensive and daily use of this add-in should help to get a better and refined view of the advantages, and perhaps improvements that could added. Email me on guillaume [at] if you'd like to share your experience in using this addin.

So far I only identified a keyboard shortcut as a nice to have improvement. 

Another great and handy add-in from one of the wide Sparx Systems EA community of users. Thank you Takeshi!