Where is all of my process model data stored?
Unlike previous “file-based” versions of the Synthis Process Modeler, all of your “R4″ process model data is stored in an embedded database that comes packaged with our new “R4″ release.
This means that you no longer have to worry about saving and managing individual “.prj” files. Whenever you save your changes, they are automatically saved to the Process Modeler database. When you close a model, it simply moves to the “Closed Models” folder within the Process Modeler ‘Explorer Tree’.
If you want to open a closed model, find it in the ‘Explorer Tree’ and then either double-click to open it or right-click on the process model and select the ‘Open’ option within the context-sensitive right-click menu.
If you want export your process model to a “.prj” file to create an archive/backup copy of your process model, or to share your model with another Process modeler user, use the “File -> Export’ option. Similarly, you can use the ‘File -> Import’ option to import from any existing “.prj” file into your Process Modeler R4 database.
How do I link to external documents / web pages?
Just like our “R3″ version, you can link to an unlimited number of external documents and web pages, or any other system or storage location that can be accessed via a URL.
The main difference in our “R4″ release is that linked documents and web pages are now reusable elements that appear in the ‘Explorer Tree’, just like all of your other elements.
The following element types have a “File Path / URL” field where you can either paste in a hyperlink URL or hyperlink to a document by browsing to it using a file chooser dialog:
How do I create additional “levels” so that users can drill down from a high-level diagram to more detailed diagrams?
Simply drag a new ‘Process Map’ shape from the ‘Process Mapping’ stencil onto your diagram. This will create a new ‘Process Map’ element (“Untitled Process Map 1″) in the ‘Explorer Tree’. This should also open the ‘Element Properties’ editor for your newly created process map element.
To “drill down” into your newly created process map, double-click on the diagram element. This will automatically open your new blank process map in another tab in the main diagramming window and display the ‘Element Properties’ for your new process map below.
Is there a limit to the number of “drill-down” levels I can have?
No – there is no limit on the number of levels you can drill down. There a also no limit on the number of process maps you can create.
What’s the difference between ‘Owner’ and ‘Performed By’?
The ‘Performed By’ property is intended to provide one additional level of granularity when assigning People, Groups, and Roles within the Process Modeler.
The majority of Process Modeler users use only the ‘Owner’ property to assign and track ownership/responsibility. In many corporate environments, the person responsible for a particular set of activities is often also the person who performs those activities.
However, in certain scenarios there is a clear distinction between who is responsible for a particular activity who actually performs that activity.
For example, in a manufacturing environment there are often “line supervisors” who are responsible for a set of specific activities within a process and “shop-floor employees” who are assigned to perform one or more of those activities. In this case, it may be helpful to assign the “Line Supervisor” as the “Owner” and the “Shop Floor Employees” as the “Performers” (using the ‘Performed By’ property).
You will see in the published documentation that each of these properties are listed in separate sections, each with their own table and heading.
One important thing to note is that you have the flexibility to assign People, Groups, and Roles at whataver level of detail you think is appropriate for your organization.
Some organizations require their Process Modeler users to only assign ownership and the ‘process map’ level. Others assign ownership at the ‘activity’ level. Some organizations get very detailed and assign “Owners” at the ‘process map’ level; assign “Owners” at the ‘activity’ level; assign ‘Performed By’ at the ‘activity’ level, and track additional properties for specific element types such as the ‘Testing Owner’ for a ‘control activity’.
You need to work with your team to decide what makes the most sense for your organization, and then clearly communicate your decision with your colleagues to ensure a consistent level of detail and quality throughout your organization.
The main difference between the ‘Description’ and ‘Comments’ properties is that the ‘Comments’ field is a “text area” that supports rich-text formatting (bold, italics, underline, different fonts, font sizes, etc.) and grows vertically as you type, whereas the ‘Description’ property is a one-line “text field” that only supports plain text formatting.
In terms of where and how these properties are used, the ‘Description’ property should ideally be a summary of what goes in the ‘Comments’ field. However, both the ‘Description’ and ‘Comments’ are optional and both fields usually serve as “backups” for each other in the published documentation.
For example, if you are looking at the published ‘Synthis Maps’ in “Pop-up Mode”, the pop-up window is configured to display the shorter ‘Description’ text. If no ‘Description’ is available, it will display the ‘Comments’.
By contrast, if you switch from ‘Pop-up Mode’ to ‘Window Mode’, the window to the left of the Synthis Maps is configured to display the longer ‘Comments’ text, since it is larger than the pop-up window. If no ‘Comments’ are available, it will display the ‘Description’.
Does Synthis support swimlane diagrams?
Yes – Our new “R4″ release makes it much easier to create and manage visual swimlanes than previous versions.
The easiest way to create visual swimlanes in “R4″ is to create a new layer using the “”Layers -> Add Layer” option. Next, select the rectangle tool in the main toolbar and draw a rectangle on the diagram to represent your horizontal swimlane.
You can repeat this process to draw additional swimlanes, or you can select your newly created rectanlge and copy/paste to create additional rectangles of the same size.
Using the ‘Fill Color’, ‘Line Color’, and ‘Line Type’ tools, you can change the color and outline of each rectangle to create swimlanes similar to the ones pictured below.
If you want your process mapping elements to appear ontop of your swimlanes, simply click on the “Swimlane” layer” in the “Layers” window and drag it below the layer that contains your process map elements.
Having your swimlane shapes in a different layer from your process map elements keeps you from accidentally selecting and moving the wrong shape while creating your process maps.
Please note that automated support for “intelligent swimlanes” is in our product roadmap. We plan to add support for automatically drawing the swimlanes for you, automatically resizing the swimlanes (vertically and horizontally) as you add elements to your process map, and automatically assigning/managing ownership based on which swimlane an element is “assigned to”.
How can I share my process models with someone else?
There are a couple of easy ways to share your process models. If you are using the Process Modeler as a standalone desktop tool, you can use the ‘File -> Export’ option to export all of your process model data to a single “.prj” file.
If you are connected to a Synthis Repository, you can upload your process model data to the Repository. Authorized users will then be able to view HTML documents that are automatically populated with your most current process model data. They will also be able to download and import your process model data into their Process Modeler.
Process Narrative – How do I change/control the order in which process maps and elements are listed?
The ‘Element Properties’ window for each ‘Model’ element and ‘Process Map’ element has a ‘Print Sequencing’ tab.
The ‘Print Sequencing’ tab allows you to control (a) the order in which your Model’s process maps are listed in the ‘Explorer Tree’ and in your published documentation and (b) the order in which each Process Map’s details are listed in your published documentation.
THE PRINT SEQUENCING TAB
The ‘Print Sequencing’ tab is accessible via the ‘Element Properties’ tab for a ‘Model’ or ‘Process Map’. The easiest way to view the ‘Element Properties’ for a ‘Model’ or ‘Process Map’ is to double-click on the appropriate ‘Model’ or ‘Process Map’ within the ‘Explorer Tree’. You can also right-click on a ‘Process Map’ element and select the ‘Edit’ option.
SEQUENCE THE PROCESS MAPS FOR A GIVEN MODEL
If you want to change the sequence in which your Process Maps are listed, open the ‘Element Properties’ for your Model (the first entry in your ‘Explorer Tree’). Next, click on the ‘Print Sequencing’ tab. This will show you a list of all of the Process Maps that exist in your selected model. To change the sequence, click on a process map row, then click on the ‘Move Up’ or ‘Move Down’ buttons as appropriate.
SEQUENCE THE PROCESS STEPS FOR A GIVEN PROCESS MAP
If you want to change the sequence of the “process steps” (activities, decisions, etc.) for a specific Process Map, open the ‘Element Properties’ for your Process Map, then click in the ‘Print Sequencing’ tab (the right-most tab at the bottom of the ‘Element Properties’ window) and repeat the steps described above to acieve the correct sequence.
By default, process steps are sequenced in the order in which they were added to your process map. Process maps are sequenced in the order in which they were created.
Can I view/print the Process Narrative in landscape format?
Yes – two icons have been added to the bottom-right corner of the ‘Process Narrative’ cover page that allow you to switch between “portrait” and “landscape” views of the document.
All of the process maps are automatically re-rendered to fit the portrait/landscape dimensions at the best possible resolution.
Additionally, two new links have been added above each process map image (in the title bar) that allow you to switch between “print optimized” and “view optimized” versions of the images.
How can I share my published documents with others?
Synthis Process Modeler R4 comes with an embedded web server that enables you to browse interactive HTML views of your process models locally. This is accomplished by going to the ‘Publish’ menu and selecting the appropriate HTML template from the list.
A new Web browser window will automatically open and the selected template will be automatically populated with your most current process model data.
These same dynamic views are automatically made available to end users when you check your process model in to your Synthis Repository or upload your process model to your free hosted Synthis.com account.
If you prefer to save your process maps and published documents as static files, you have a couple of options:
SAVE PUBLISHED HTML DOCUMENTS AS A SINGLE BROWSABLE ‘.MHT’ FILE
If you are browsing your published documents locally using Internet Explorer, you can use Internet Explorer to save the HTML in the browser as a single ‘.mht’ file.
- Select the ‘File -> Save As’ option in Internet Explorer.
- In the ‘Save as type’ field, select the ‘Web Archive, single file (*.mht)’ option.
- Select where you would like to save the file, then click the ‘Save’ button.
This will allow you to email and share a static copy of the published HTML with others. However, please note that due to the highly interactive and dynamic nature of the ‘Synthis Maps’, the ‘Synthis Maps’ cannot be saved as a single, static ‘.mht’ file.
SAVE INDIVIDUAL PROCESS MAPS AS A PDF OR IMAGE FILE
If you just want to save the active diagram as a PDF or image file, use the following steps:
- Click on the ‘File -> Save Diagram As …’ option in the Process Modeler.
- Select ‘Image’ File’ or ‘PDF Document’.
- Select where you would like to save the file, then click the ‘Save’ button.
If you want to save the active diagram as a PDF, you can simply click on the ‘PDF’ button in the main toolbar (to the right of the ‘Print Preview’ and ‘Print’ toolbar buttons) to skip the first two steps above.
What is the easiest way to create reusable process templates?
The easiest way to create re-usable templates is to create the template in the Process Modeler and then use the ‘File -> Export’ option to save a copy of your process model as a ‘.prj’ file. You can then import from this ‘.prj’ file and use it as the starting point for your next process model.
The ‘File -> Export’ option is also a great way to create backup and archive copies of your process models, if you’re not using a Synthis Repository (and it’s automated revisioning and version control features).
If I rename a copied element, the name of the copied element and the original element both change. Is this a bug?
This is not a bug. Copying and pasting an element creates a second instance of the same element. This ability to reuse the same object multiple times within the same process map and across other process maps is one the the key features that distinguishes a process modeling tool from simple diagramming tools like Microsoft Visio and SmartDraw.
Please not that we are planning to introduce a new ‘Clone’ option that will unable you to copy one or more elements and “clone” them to create new elements that contain the same information, but are distinct objects that can be edited and maintained independently from the original elements from which they were cloned.
Can I add or rename the folders in the Explorer Tree?
In the default ‘Explorer Tree’ view, you can rename individual elements and process maps. However, the tree is automatically managed for you based on a pre-defined set of rules. The folders in this view cannot be renamed, moved, deleted, or otherwise modified.
Additional tree views will be added in subsequent point releases. Some of these new tree views will allow you to organize your elements in a folder structure that you have complete control over. Other views will automatically filter and sort your elements based on different filtering and sorting rules.
Can I create my own custom elements and stencils?
With our new “R4″ release, you can now copy / paste or drag-and-drop images onto any process map diagram. These images can serve as backgrounds or decoration. Your pasted images can also be converted into reusable element objects.
Using the right-click ‘Change Type’ option, you can right-click on your pasted image and convert it to any of our “out-of-the-box” element types by selecting the appropriate type from the list.
If you want to create multiple custom objects from the same image, it is best to paste multiple instances of the image on the diagram, select each of the pasted images, and then use the right-click ‘Change Type’ option to convert them all at once to the desired element type.
Can I modify the ‘Element Properties’ editors?
It is quite easy to customize ‘Element Properties’ for different element types, hide/remove properties, and add new properties. Synthis can do this for you or provide training so that ytou can make your own customizations.
Can I modify the publishing templates?
Similar to the previous question, Synthis can customize existing publishing templates and create new publishing templates for you or provide training so that you can make your own customizations.
Can I change the icon for an element without changing the element type?
This has been added to our product roadmap. Currently, the easiest way to accomplish this is to paste the desired image and then use the right-click ‘Change Type’ option to assign the desired element properties to the pasted image.
Will I lose any of my data if I change the element type?
No – whenever you change element type, all of your existing element data is preserved, even if the new element type doesn’t promtpt for all of the attributes that have been associated with your existing element object.
The ‘License Activation’ dialog won’t accept my username and password
You must have purchased a permanent license from Synthis in order to use the ‘License Activation’ dialog to get rid of the free trial countdown clock. If you have trouble connecting using the ‘License Activation’ tab, please try using the instructions provided in the ‘Manual Activation’ tab.
If you are unable to manually activate using the ‘Manual Activation’ tab, please don’t hesitate to contact our support department by sending an email to email@example.com.
What happens after my trial license expires?
After your free trial expires, you can still view and interact with your process models. However, new changes to your process models will not be saved.
If you need an extension to your trial period, please feel free to request an extension by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can a process map be moved from one model to another?
The current “R4″ release does not support copying and pasting or otherwise moving elements from one process model to another. The ability to copy / paste, drag-and-drop, and export / import from one process model to another will be added in an upcoming point release.
Can I copy and paste from other products like Visio or SmartDraw?
Yes – Our new “R4″ release provides basic support for copying and pasting from various third-party software applications. Unfortunately, whatever you copy/paste from other diagramming tools like Visio and SmartDraw currently pastes as a single image. If you want to copy/paste individual shapes, you much sopy and paste them one at a time.
Providing more advanced support for copying / pasting and exporting / importing from other diagramming and process modeling tools is in our “R4″ product roadmap.
Can I import data from an existing file or database?
The current “R4″ release supports importing from existing ‘.prj’ files. However, our product roadmap includes adding utilities to easily import data and content from a variety of data sources including Excel files, various emerging XML formats, third-party databases, and third-party content management systems.
Can I export my data?
The ‘File -> Export’ option makes it easy to export your data to a single ‘.prj’ file. The ‘prj’ file contains all of your process model data in a standard XML format. Custom export templates (similar to the HTML publishing templates) can be easily added to the Process Modeler to export your process model data in other formats.
If you are using a Synthis Repository to manage your process model data, you can access and export the data directly from the Synthis Repository database.
How do I control who can view / edit my process models?
The Synthis Repository provides fine-grained access control and security for all of your process model content. At any level within the Repository, you can assign the following permissions to groups and users:
Does Synthis provide any support for revision / version control?
The Synthis Process Modeler is used to create and edit your process models. The Synthis Repository provides built-in support for automated revisioning and version control of your process models.
Is there a built-in spell checker?
Adding a built-in spell checking utility is on our product roadmap.
Is there a ‘Save As’ option?
A ‘File – Save As’ option will be added to one of our upcoming “R4″ point releases. In the meantime, you can use the ‘File -> Export’ option to create a ‘.prj’ file containing all of your process model data. This is a great way to backup and archive your process models using the Process Modeler as a standalone tool. You can then use the ‘File -> Import’ option to create a new process model from your saved ‘.prj’ file.
- Print Sequencing
- Modeler Environment
- What's New In Process Modeler 4.0
- Process Mapping Basics