Defining custom categories for dictionary entries


This feature is only available for customers with an Enterprise license.

You can define attributes for dictionary entries, just as you can define them for diagrams. You can also define custom dictionary (sub-) categories.


Please consider the section Dictionary Access Rights to learn more about this topic.

Category types

Category types have two purposes:

  • They are used by the system when creating reports (e.g. RACI, document usage or process documentation reports) in order to identify objects of a certain category.
  • They act as filters when dictionary references are suggested while modeling in the Signavio Editor. for example, dictionary entries of the type ‘IT System’ are only suggested when the user attempts to label an IT System element. Entries that are not defined (not attached to any element type) will be suggested for any element.

Category types can be defined for both root level categories and child categories. Available category types are:

  • Organization
    Organizational entities, that can be used to assign responsibilities for actions. Examples would be whole organizations (e.g. ‘ACME Inc.’), organizational units or departments (e.g. ‘Finance’), roles (e.g. ‘Chief Financial Officer’) or even external process participants like partners, suppliers, government institutions or customers.
  • Document
    Anything that can hold information and that is used or created during processes. This may be physical documents (e.g. printed applications), digital files (e.g. PDF forms), entries in databases or variables in a computer program.
  • IT-System
    Anything that can process documents or data, from standard software programs, individualized applications and custom scripts to hardware systems, like individual server instances, data centers and hand-held devices, to integrated systems like fully-configured application servers, scanners, printers or personal computers.
  • Event
    Anything that can trigger a process, happen during execution or as the result of a process. Events are usually described by defining the situation or state reached once the event has occurred, e.g. “Customer order received” or “Goods sent”.
  • Activity
    Actions that are performed within processes. Actions usually connect all other types of objects: they are performed by organizational units or roles, may read and create documents or data, may use IT-systems, may cause events and should usually achieve certain goals.
  • Goal
    The reasons behind why processes are executed at all and why they are designed the way they are: business goals to be achieved, key performance indicators to be met or stakeholders to be satisfied.
  • Requirement
    Typically descriptions of the differences between as-is and to-be processes or IT-systems, e.g. change requests, functional or non-functional specifications or tickets in a requirements management system.
  • Others
    Categories with this type have no defined meaning attached to them and will thus be recommended to users for diagram elements that do not match more specific types. One example is the BPMN group element.

Creating a new category

To create dictionary categories, proceed as follows:

  1. Click Setup, then Define notations/attributes in the top dropdown menu of the Signavio Explorer.
Menu entry to open the 'Define notations/attributes' dialog box.
  1. Click the Dictionary tab on the top bar of the dialog. The area to configure the dictionary attributes opens. All categories are listed on the left side of the dialog.
The 'Dictionary' tab.
  1. If you want to create a sub-category, select first the parent category.
Selection of the parent category.


Please note that sub-categories can’t be parent category of other categories, therefore a category path is always one or two levels deep.

  1. Click Add. In the corresponding dialog box, perform the following settings:
The 'Add' dialog box.
Preference Description
Name Specify a name for the category (mandatory)
Parent category Specify the parent category via the dropdown menu.
Use for data modelling Activate the checkbox if you want to use the category for DMN input data (see Managing input/output data for DMN diagrams in the dictionary).
Publishing mode

Determines whether (new revisions of) dictionary entries should be published in Collaboration Hub manually or automatically upon creation.

  • manually: an updated dictionary entry has to be explicitly published before the most recent version is displayed in Collaboration Hub. This enables strict quality assurance (see also Publishing dictionary entries).
  • automatically: a new dictionary entry (update) is displayed in Collaboration Hub as soon as the entry is saved.

Note: After enabling manual publishing, you need to explicitly grant users the right to publish dictionary entries, as described at Managing access rights.

On change, linking diagrams are
  • updated automatically: diagrams referencing dictionary entries of the corresponding category are updated automatically upon changes.
  • unpublished: the changes can be approved manually. You can control whether the updated dictionary entry is still matching the context of the referencing diagrams.
Color Select a color for the category.
Typ of category Select a category type.
  1. Finally, click Create. The new category is applied.
  2. To edit, remove or rearrange categories, select the appropriate entry in the category bar.
  3. Click the corresponding icon in the toolbar.
Editing a category.
  1. To deactivate a custom category, uncheck the respective checkbox between the category’s color and it’s name.
Deactivating a category.

Managing custom attributes for dictionary entries

You can manage custom attributes of dictionary categories in the same way you manage custom attributes of elements. Read more at Defining custom attributes.