Modeling Session: Automated Layout Support

The object of our study is a process modeling task, starting from an empty canvas using a subset of BPMN supported by an automated layout feature. Subjects received a textual description of the process model to be created, designed to reach a medium level of complexity going well beyond a “toy-example”. To ensure that the process model is of appropriate complexity and not misleading, the textual descriptions were refi ned in several iterations. Additionally, we performed a pre-test involving ten students with a similar background. The gathered feedback allowed us to further refi ne the modeling task, e.g., remaining ambiguous parts of the descriptions were clari ed. In the end, the process model to be created consisted of 25 activities covering several basic control-flow pattern, i.e., sequence, structured loop, parallel split, synchronization, exclusive choice and simple merge.

The modeling session was conducted in October 2011 at Eindhoven University of Technology as part of a graduate course on Business Process Management. The modeling session was guided by CEP’s experimental workflow engine, leading students through an initial questionnaire collecting demographic data, the modeling task, a subsequent survey containing the perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use questions, and a feedback questionnaire.


Task Description: [Download]

Modeling Tool: Cheetah Experimental Platform

The automated layout support was provided by IBM Research Labs.


  • T. Gschwind, J. Pinggera, S. Zugal, H. Reijers and B. Weber: A Linear Time Layout Algorithm for Business Process Models. Technical Report RZ3830. IBM Research 
  • T. Gschwind, J. Pinggera, S. Zugal, H. Reijers and B. Weber: A linear time layout algorithm for business process models . Journal of Visual Languages & Computing 25(2):117–132, 2014. 
  • T. Gschwind, J. Pinggera, S. Zugal, H. Reijers and B. Weber: Edges, Structure, and Constraints: The Layout of Business Process Models. Technical Report RZ3825. IBM Research, 2011. 

The Impact of Automated Layout Support on the Process of Process Modeling

Based on the research presented above regarding the process of process modeling, this work focuses on the impact of automated layout on the PPM. Starting point is the modeling session conducted in October 2011 at Eindhoven University of Technology (as described earlier).


During the investigation and data analysis of the aforementioned modeling session data, additional artifacts were created. On the one hand, a host of screenshots of the various replays during different times of the modeling process. On the other hand, several Excel datasheets were created to analyse the data provided by CEP.
These documents can be found here.