Chapter 3. BPMN2 events in process designer

An event is something that happens to a business process. BPMN2 supports three categories of events:

  • Start
  • End
  • Intermediate

A start event catches an event trigger, an end event throws an event trigger, and an intermediate event can both catch and throw event triggers.

The following business process diagram shows examples of events: events

In this example, the following events occurred:

  • The ATM Card Inserted signal start event is triggered when the signal is received.
  • The timeout intermediate event is an interrupting event based on a timer trigger. This means that the Wait for PIN subprocess is canceled when the timer event is triggered.
  • Depending on the inputs to the process, either end event associated with the Validate User Pin task or the end event associated with the Inform User of Timeout task ends the process.

3.1. Start events

Use start events to indicate the start of a business process. A start event cannot have an incoming sequence flow and must have only one outgoing sequence flow. You can use none start events in top-level processes, embedded subprocess, callable subprocesses, and event subprocesses.

All start events, with the exception of the none start event, are catch events. For example, a signal start event starts the process only when the referenced signal (event trigger) is received. You can configure start events in event subprocesses to be interrupting or non-interrupting. An interrupting start event for an event subprocess stops or interrupts the execution of the containing or parent process. A non-interrupting start event does not stop or interrupt the execution of the containing or parent process.

Table 3.1. Start events

Start event typeTop-levelSubprocesses 
  

Interrupt

Non-interrupt

None

bpmn start node

  

Conditional

bpmn conditional start

bpmn conditional start

bpmn conditional non interrupt

Compensation

bpmn compensation start

bpmn compensation start

 

Error

 

bpmn error start

 

Escalation

bpmn escalation start

bpmn escalation start

bpmn escalation non interrupt

Message

bpmn message node

bpmn message node

bpmn message non interrupt

Signal

bpmn signal start

bpmn signal start

bpmn signal non interrupt

Timer

bpmn timer start

bpmn timer start

bpmn timer non interrupt

None

The none start event is a start event without a trigger condition. A process or a subprocess can contain at most one none start event, which is triggered on process or subprocess start by default, and the outgoing flow is taken immediately.

When you use a none start event in a subprocess, the execution of the process flow is transferred from the parent process into the subprocess and the none start event is triggered. This means that the token (the current location within the process flow) is passed from the parent process into the subprocess activity and the none start event of the subprocess generates a token of its own.

Conditional

The conditional start event is a start event with a Boolean condition definition. The execution is triggered when the condition is first evaluated to false and then to true. The process execution starts only if the condition is evaluated to true after the start event has been instantiated.

A process can contain multiple conditional start events.

Compensation

A compensation start event is used to start a compensation event subprocess when using a subprocess as the target activity of a compensation intermediate event.

Error

A process or subprocess can contain multiple error start events, which are triggered when an error object with a particular ErrorRef property is received. The error object can be produced by an error end event. It indicates an incorrect process ending. The process instance with the error start event starts execution after it has received the respective error object. The error start event is executed immediately upon receiving the error object and its outgoing flow is taken.

Escalation

The escalation start event is a start event that is triggered by an escalation with a particular escalation code. Processes can contain multiple escalation start events. The process instance with an escalation start event starts its execution when it receives the defined escalation object. The process is instantiated and the escalation start event is executed immediately and its outgoing flow is taken.

Message

A process or an event subprocess can contain multiple message start events, which are triggered by a particular message. The process instance with a message start event only starts its execution from this event after it has received the respective message. After the message is received, the process is instantiated and its message start event is executed immediately (its outgoing flow is taken).

Because a message can be consumed by an arbitrary number of processes and process elements, including no elements, one message can trigger multiple message start events and therefore instantiate multiple processes.

Signal

The signal start event is triggered by a signal with a particular signal code. A process can contain multiple signal start events. The signal start event only starts its execution within the process instance after the instance has received the respective signal. Then, the signal start event is executed and its outgoing flow is taken.

Timer

The timer start event is a start event with a timing mechanism. A process can contain multiple timer start events, which are triggered at the start of the process, after which the timing mechanism is applied.

When you use a timer start event in a subprocess, execution of the process flow is transferred from the parent process into the subprocess and the timer start event is triggered. The token is taken from the parent subprocess activity and the timer start event of the subprocess is triggered and waits for the timer to trigger. After the time defined by the timing definition has been reached, the outgoing flow is taken.

3.2. Intermediate events

Intermediate events drive the flow of a business process. Intermediate events are used to either catch or throw an event during the execution of the business process. These events are placed between the start and end events and can also be used on the boundary of an activity, like a subprocess or a human task, as a catch event. The boundary catch events can be configured as interrupting or non-interrupting. An interrupting boundary catch event cancels the bound activity whereas a non-interrupting event does not.

An intermediate event handles a particular situation that occurs during process execution. The situation is a trigger for an intermediate event. In a process, intermediate events with one outgoing flow can be placed on an activity boundary.

If the event occurs while the activity is being executed, the event triggers its execution to the outgoing flow. One activity may have multiple boundary intermediate events. Note that depending on the behavior you require from the activity with the boundary intermediate event, you can use either of the following intermediate event types:

  • Interrupting: The activity execution is interrupted and the execution of the intermediate event is triggered.
  • Non-interrupting: The intermediate event is triggered and the activity execution continues.

Table 3.2. Intermediate events

Intermediate event typeCatchingBoundary Throwing
  

Interrupt

Non-interrupt

 

Message

bpmn intermediate message

bpmn intermediate message

bpmn message noninterrupt

bpmn message throwing

Timer

bpmn intermediate timer

bpmn intermediate timer

bpmn timer noninterrupt

 

Error

 

bpmn intermediate error

  

Signal

bpmn intermediate signal

bpmn intermediate signal

bpmn signal noninterrupt

bpmn signal throwing

Conditional

bpmn intermediate conditional

bpmn intermediate conditional

bpmn conditional noninterrupt

 

Compensation

bpmn intermediate catch

bpmn intermediate catch

 

bpmn intermediate compensation throwing

Escalation

bpmn intermediate escalation

bpmn intermediate escalation

bpmn intermediate escalation non interrupting

bpmn intermediate escalation throwing

Message

A message intermediate event is an intermediate event that enables you to manage a message object. Use one of the following events:

  • A throwing message intermediate event produces a message object based on the defined properties.
  • A catching message intermediate event listens for a message object with the defined properties.

Timer

A timer intermediate event enables you to delay workflow execution or to trigger the workflow execution periodically. It represents a timer that can trigger one or multiple times after a specified period of time. When the timer intermediate event is triggered, the timer condition, which is the defined time, is checked and the outgoing flow is taken. When the timer intermediate event is placed in the process workflow, it has one incoming flow and one outgoing flow. Its execution starts when the incoming flow transfers to the event. When a timer intermediate event is placed on an activity boundary, the execution is triggered at the same time as the activity execution.

The timer is canceled if the timer element is canceled, for example by completing or aborting the enclosing process instance.

Conditional

A conditional intermediate event is an intermediate event with a boolean condition as its trigger. The event triggers further workflow execution when the condition evaluates to true and its outgoing flow is taken.

The event must define the Expression property. When a conditional intermediate event is placed in the process workflow, it has one incoming flow, one outgoing flow, and its execution starts when the incoming flow transfers to the event. When a conditional intermediate event is placed on an activity boundary, the execution is triggered at the same time as the activity execution. Note that if the event is non-interrupting, the event triggers continuously while the condition is true.

Signal

A signal intermediate event enables you to produce or consume a signal object. Use either of the following options:

  • A throwing signal intermediate event produces a signal object based on the defined properties.
  • A catching signal intermediate event listens for a signal object with the defined properties.

Error

An error intermediate event is an intermediate event that can be used only on an activity boundary. It enables the process to react to an error end event in the respective activity. The activity must not be atomic. When the activity finishes with an error end event that produces an error object with the respective ErrorCode property, the error intermediate event catches the error object and execution continues to its outgoing flow.

Compensation

A compensation intermediate event is a boundary event attached to an activity in a transaction subprocess. It can finish with a compensation end event or a cancel end event. The compensation intermediate event must be associated with a flow, which is connected to the compensation activity.

The activity associated with the boundary compensation intermediate event is executed if the transaction subprocess finishes with the compensation end event. The execution continues with the respective flow.

Escalation

An escalation intermediate event is an intermediate event that enables you to produce or consume an escalation object. Depending on the action the event element should perform, you need to use either of the following options:

  • A throwing escalation intermediate event produces an escalation object based on the defined properties.
  • A catching escalation intermediate event listens for an escalation object with the defined properties.

3.3. End events

End events are used to end a business process and may not have any outgoing sequence flows. There may be multiple end events in a business process. All end events, with the exception of the none and terminate end events, are throw events.

End events indicate the completion of a business process. An end event is a node that ends a particular workflow. It has one or more incoming sequence flows and no outgoing flow.

A process must contain at least one end event.

During run time, an end event finishes the process workflow. The end event can finish only the workflow that reached it, or all workflows in the process instance, depending on the end event type.

Table 3.3. End events

None

The none end event specifies that no other special behavior is associated with the end of the process.

Message

When a flow enters a message end event, the flow finishes and the end event produces a message as defined in its properties.

Signal

A throwing signal end event is used to finish a process or subprocess flow. When the execution flow enters the element, the execution flow finishes and produces a signal identified by its SignalRef property.

Error

The throwing error end event finishes the incoming workflow, which means consumes the incoming token, and produces an error object. Any other running workflows in the process or subprocess remain uninfluenced.

Compensation

A compensation end event is used to finish a transaction subprocess and trigger the compensation defined by the compensation intermediate event attached to the boundary of the subprocess activities.

Escalation

The escalation end event finishes the incoming workflow, which means consumes the incoming token, and produces an escalation signal as defined in its properties, triggering the escalation process.

Terminate

The terminate end event finishes all execution flows in the specified process instance. Activities being executed are canceled. The subprocess instance terminates if it reaches a terminate end event.