Editing diagrams

This section explains the basic modeling functions of the Editor. If you are already familiar with this and like to learn about modeling in a specific notation or setting, you can refer to the following chapters:

Creating a new diagram

To create a new diagram, proceed as follows:

  1. Open the Explorer.

  2. Click New in the Explorer’s top drop-down menu.

  3. Click the diagram type you would like to create a new diagram of.

    Creating a new BPMN 2.0 diagram
  4. The Editor opens in a new tab, showing the blank canvas of a new diagram. You can now start to add modeling elements.

Opening diagrams

To open a diagram, proceed as follows:

  1. Open the Explorer.

  2. To open a diagram, double-click the diagram you want to edit. Alternatively, you can select the diagram and click Edit diagram under Edit in the top drop-down menu.

    Go to 'Edit', then 'Edit diagram'
  3. The Editor opens in a new browser tab or window.

  4. Once the Editor is loaded, you can edit the diagram.

Saving diagrams

  1. Open the diagram in the Editor.

  2. Click the Save button in the toolbar or use the key combination Ctrl+S to open the Save dialog.

    Save the diagram.
  3. The Save dialog opens:

The 'Save' dialog.

You can add revision comment to explain what you changed regarding the previous version. These comments will be visible in the version overview so you and your colleagues can track the changes you made to the different versions of a diagram. You can also adjust the title and the location of the diagram. Depending on the diagram type and your workspace configuration, the dialog may include a modeling convention check.

  1. Finally, click Save.

Save a copy

The Save as functionality allows you to save a copy of the current diagram, optionally with a different name. The new diagram will be created in the same folder. To save a copy of a diagram, proceed as follows:

  1. Open the diagram in the Editor.

  2. Click the Disc icon in the toolbar and select Save a copy.

    Save a copy.


    If you want to edit the copy, follow the link that is displayed after saving. The diagram that is still open in the same browser tab is the original.

    Open the diagram in a new tab to edit the copy.

Changing a diagram’s title

On the upper left corner, you see the title of the diagram. If you click it, the editing is enabled. You can also change the title when saving the diagram.

Changing the title.

Adding elements

You have already created a new diagram or opened an existing diagram.

Now, there are multiple ways to add modeling elements to a diagram:

  • Drag and drop elements from the shape repository on the left side.
  • Once there are elements in the diagram, you can use the interactive shortcut menu to add more elements.
  • You can copy and paste elements

Adding elements using drag & drop

The shape repository in the left column of the Editor displays all modeling elements available in the current modeling language (here: BPMN 2.0). To change the shape repository’s subset, click the subset that is currently activated above the shape repository and choose another one.

In case the amount of the BPMN 2.0 elements exceeds a certain number, the elements are grouped (e.g. activities, gateways, swimlanes, etc.).

  1. Choose the element in the shape repository that you want to add to your diagram. Click and hold the mouse button on the element and drag the element to a position on the diagram where you want to drop it. The green icon shows you where you can drop the element. This might depend on whether an element can be added to another element. For instance, a BPMN pool cannot be added to a task.

    Drag & Drop functionality for adding elements from the shape repository.
  2. You can label most elements. Double-click the element and a text box will appear if it can be labled.

    Label a modeling element.
  3. Optionally, you can position the label of some elements (for example, BPMN gateways, and events), as well as connectors freely on the drawing area.

    Labels can be moved around, automatic snapping will adjust their position.

Adding elements using the interactive context menu

You add elements by using the interactive shortcut menu. Depending on the currently selected shape, the menu suggests which modeling element might be added next.


The currently activated subset of modeling elements influences the elements you can add through the interactive shortcut menu. If the element you want to add doesn’t appear in the interactive shortcut menu, this could be due to the wrong subset being active on the left hand list of available elements.

  1. Select an element in the diagram (for example, a task). The shortcut menu appears on the right side of the element.

  2. Click the icon of the element you want to add (for example, another task or an end event). The new element appears in the diagram.

    the interactive shortcut menu.

3. If you want to position a newly created element yourself, you can also click the icon and drag the element to the desired position. To facilitate the alignment of the existing elements, orientation lines appear.

Dashed orientation lines help aligning modeling elements.


The type of connector that is created between the selected element and the newly created element will be determined automatically.

Copying elements

The Copy functionality simplifies creating many similar elements with complex but similar values. It also allows to re-use parts of old diagrams by copying some of their elements and pasting them into a new diagram.

  1. Select the element you want to copy. Use the Shift or Ctrl key combinations to select multiple elements.

  2. Use the combinations Ctrl + C to copy, Ctrl + X to cut and Ctrl + V to paste elements.

    Copy elements.


Using this functionality to copy elements between different diagrams may take a while, as they are copied to the server first. Also, an Internet connection is required for copying elements between diagrams, but not for copying elements inside one diagram.

Moving elements

You can move elements easily to a new position using drag & drop. To simplify the alignment, dotted orientation lines will appear and snapping to other elements will be activated.

Dotted orientation lines simplify the alignment of elements.

Dotted orientation lines simplify the alignment of elements.


If the new position of your element is not valid because it breaks containment rules, it is signalized by red or green markers. The following two examples show how this works.

While modeling a BPMN-diagram, a task is supposed to be dropped into a pool. As a BPMN pool can include a task, green markers appear at the corners of the pool.

While modeling a BPMN-diagram, a task is supposed to be dropped into a pool. As a BPMN pool can include a task, green markers appear at the corners of the pool.

While modeling a BPMN-diagram, a pool is supposed to be dropped into a task. As a task cannot include a pool, red markers appear at the corners of the task.

While modeling a BPMN-diagram, a pool is supposed to be dropped into a task. As a task cannot include a pool, red markers appear at the corners of the task.

Hitting special keys while moving an element affects the “move”-functionality:

  • Alt or Ctrl: Move without automatic snapping and orientation lines
  • Shift: Move along a horizontal or vertical line

These functionalities can also be combined. If you press Shift+Alt or Shift+Strg and hold while moving, you can move along a horizontal or vertical, without that orientation lines appear.

Changing element type

The transformation functionality allows you to switch easily from one element type to another. In BPMN, for instance, you can turn

  • a task into a subprocess
  • a plain start event into a message start event
  • a collapsed pool into an expanded pool

To transform an element, proceed as follows:

  1. Select the element you want to transform.
  2. Click the transform shape/wrench icon below the element.
  3. Select the type you want to change the element to.
Transform a task into a subprocess.


Some changes that affect the appearance and behavior of a modeling element but not its actual type can be performed in the attribute editor on the right. E.g., if a canceling intermediate timer event has to be changed to a non-canceling intermediate timer event (with a dotted border), the attribute cancel activity has to be set to false.

Editing attributes

Modeling elements often come with a range of properties you can edit, called attributes. Some of these variables may influence the visual appearance (e.g. the background color or label of an element), other ‘invisible’ attributes are necessary to understand a process or to execute it. Such are for example an elements description, a linked dictionary entry or the decision logic defined for a decision in a DMN diagram. These properties can be altered in the attribute panel on the right. It can be expanded by clicking the gray bar labeled Attributes on the right side of the Editor window.

Open the attribute panel.

Open the attribute panel.

Most visual attributes can also be altered in the Editor’s top tool bar, though the attribute panel usually provides more options. You can also define diagram-wide attributes in the panel by clicking any empty space within the editing area. The principle according to which attribute values are set, is always the same.

In our example, we want to set the loop type of a BPMN Task:

  1. Open the attribute panel on the right side of the Editor by clicking the black bar.
  2. Select the loop type attribute and select the loop type, e.g. Standard for a looped task or MI Parallel for a multiple instances task.
Set the Task's loop type.
  1. Unselect the attribute and the change will take effect. You will see the loop or multi instance icon in the task shape.
  2. To change diagram-wide attributes, click any empty space within the editing area and then go to the attributes panel.


The upper section of the attribute panel contains custom attributes which can be individually defined by your workspace administrators. Custom attributes can be defined, edited and removed via the Define notations/attributes dialog.

  1. The attributes are divided into categories. You can hide the content to get a better overview by clicking on the minus symbol next to the category name.

    A category can also be collapsed or expanded by clicking its name.
  2. You can also sort the attributes in alphanumerical order to find a required attribute more easily. To do so click on the head of the column Attribute. The small triangle indicates whether the elements are sorted descending or ascending.

    Sort the attributes by clicking the header of the 'Name' column.

Removing elements

  1. Select the modeling elements you want to remove.

  2. Click the Del-key on your keyboard or click the Delete button in the toolbar.

    Delete an element.


You can select multiple elements by either using the Ctrl key on your keyboard or by drawing selection frames on the canvas.

General functions

Undo / Redo

You can undo the last action made to a diagram by clicking the Undo button. Redo functionality is available via the Redo button.

Undo an editing action.

Undo an editing action.

Alternatively, you can use the key combinations Ctrl + Y, and Ctrl + Z.

Resizing the canvas

If you move you cursor over the edges of the canvas, left and right arrows will appear

Increasing the canvas size

Click those arrows to shorten or extend the canvas. This allows you to create more complex and bigger diagrams. Use the zoom functionality to fit a large diagram to the screen.

Hint: Shortening the canvas is impossible if there are elements in the affected area.


When you create extensive diagrams, they can become too big to be displayed in your screen. Signavio’s zooming feature simplifies editing larger diagrams, especially when using a device with a relatively small screen.

To zoom in and out, simply click the corresponding button in the top toolbar.

Zoom in.

The “Zoom in” button enlarges the view.

Zoom out.

The “Zoom out” button reduces the view.

To return to the standard zoom level and see the diagram in its default size, click the button Zoom to the standard level.

Display the diagram in its default size.

Display the diagram in its default size.

Click Zoom to fit the model size in order to have the whole diagram canvas displayed in your browser.

Display the whole diagram.

Display the whole diagram.

You have now acquired basic modeling skills in Signavio Process Manager, you can continue to the chapters BPMN modeling, DMN modeling, ArchiMate or Value Chains to learn about a specific notation or continue to the next chapter if you would like to know more about process editing and formatting diagrams.