63 Types of Events

  • November 30, 2010
  • Scott

Paul Vincent on BPMN 2 events (all 63 types of them) :

OK, “63 types of event” needs a bit of explanation (and justification). These consist of:

  • 13 main event types: untyped, message, timer, escalation, conditional, link, error, cancel, compensation, signal, multiple, parallel multiple, and terminate
  • … across 8 situations classified by location in a process:
  • Start: top-level, event sub-process interrupting, and event sub-process non-interrupting
  • Intermediate: catching, boundary interrupting, boundary non-interrupting, and throwing
  • End

… but with some situations not requiring certain types of event (e.g. there is no “start cancel process” event) leaving58 63 event types defined [*1].Presumably BPMN tools will let the user specifiy the main event type and associate the correct symbol from the context in most cases, leaving us to consider just the 13 main event types.

Paul is right: 63 is too many. But I think he also hints at the right answer: the tooling should be able to pick the right symbol based on the context of the detail of the event (or conversely, show the author the right context if they pick a specific event).  But there’s no reason for anyone to know 63 event types off the top of their head.  In fact, they really don’t need to distinguish between all of the 13 “main” event types in most cases.

It is up to the BPMS providers to make the authoring experience powerful and yet simple enough to be manageable and useful.  If the notation has gotten away from us a bit, then software can help reduce it back down to something manageable.  One interesting aspect is that many of these event types are not currently supported by BPMS vendors-  so depending on which tool you’re using you can cross off a lot of the potential event types!  That isn’t exactly what I mean by “simplifying” but it is one way to get there, I suppose.

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