An unlabeled example of a Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) diagram

BPMN Event Types

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BPMN looks like a complex diagramming language, but once you understand it, you'll be able to read and create business workflows quickly and easily. This guide will walk you through the proper use of events shapes, a critical portion of BPMN diagram creation.

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Creating a BPMN Model

BPMN events

Events, represented with circles, describe something that happens during the course of a process. There are three main events within business process modeling: start events, intermediate events, and end events. These three types are also defined as either catching events (which react to a trigger) or throwing events (which the process triggers). Once you're familiar with BPMN, jump right into Lucidchart's intuitive editor to start making diagrams.

Start events

BPMN Events - Start Event

Each process must begin with an initiating event, called the start event. All start events catch information (such as receiving an email), and you can add a line that proceeds from the start events to continue the process. Many start events contain an icon in the middle to define the event's trigger. For example, a start event that contains an envelope icon indicates that a message arrives and triggers the start of the process.

In Lucidchart, you can easily add a start event from the BPMN 2.0 shape library in Lucidchart. Once you drag shapes onto the canvas, you can click any shape to change its properties in the advanced shape menu at the top of the editor. 

This simple shape represents how a process begins by receiving an email. After the user receives the email, the rest of the BPMN diagram may proceed.

BPMN Event Types - Catch Message


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Creating a BPMN Model

Intermediate events

Intermediate Event

An intermediate event is any event that occurs between a start and an end event. The intermediate event circle has a double line, and the event can catch or throw information. Connecting objects indicate the directional flow, determining whether the event is catching or throwing.

Lucidchart users can find event types for intermediate events by using the advanced shape menu that appears when you add a new BPMN shape to the canvas.

The shape below shows a message received in the middle of a process. Notice that the event circle has a double line around it and that the mail icon is not filled in, indicating that it is a catching shape.

BPMN Event Types - Catch Message

The following shape is similar to the previous example, except it is throwing a message, not catching one. Simply put, the message is sent as a step in the process, instead of a message being received.

BPMN Event Types - Throw Message


End events

BPMN Event Types - End Event

Finally, end events are styled with a single thick black line. End events are always thrown because there is no process to catch after the final event.

In the BPMN example below, the process is completed when a final message is thrown. After processing some system, it is likely that you will need to notify someone, so it's common to include a thrown message to end your flow.

BPMN Event Types - Thrown Message


Additional Resources

Events are just a small piece of what it takes to create a BPMN diagram. Check out our other guides (listed to the left) to learn more. Lucidchart is the ideal solution for creating BPMN diagrams. Sign up for a free account today!

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