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Home ARIS® Express vs. MS Visio
Comparison of ARIS® Express vs. Microsoft® Office Visio® with BPM-X Designer technology
The new ARIS® Express is a cost-free process modeling tool that aims for companies that only have limited budgets available. This article investigates how ARIS® Express and Microsoft® Office Visio® in conjunction with the BPM-X Designer add-in match important success criteria imposed on process modeling software.

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.

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

Methodology

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®.

Application

  • 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.

Methodology