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Features en detail: Capture your processes faster with SmartDesign

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by Michal Ferko in Professional ARIS posted on 2010-03-24

1 - What is SmartDesign and why should I use it?

SmartDesign is a table based modeling tool. It means that you can capture your process fast and in an easy way. It is faster, because you don’t need to bother with layout of objects and with connections. SmartDesign will care about that for you. SmartDesign uses a table with a fast and intuitive navigation. You only need to put your hands on the keyboard and start typing. You can easily create new structures or edit existing structures. It works out of the box, but you can also customize it to your needs. Watch the video below to get an idea what SmartDesign is all about.

SmartDesign dialog in ARIS Business Designer/Architect

2 - What kind of processes I can capture with SmartDesign?

With SmartDesign you can easily model hierarchical structures and flow structures. It means that each process that can be described as a sequence of objects or as tree of objects can be captured with SmartDesign.

SmartDesign can be used to edit flow structures (left) and tree structures (right)

3 - Can I edit complex process flows in SmartDesign?

You can edit complex process flows with splits and joins part by part. Just select an object in a part you want to edit and invoke SmartDesign. SmartDesign will analyze your model and allow editing immediately. You can also add objects to end or beginning of edited part and SmartDesign will care that connections to the gateways will be reconnected to new beginning or end. The part you are currently editing is shown in ordinary colors, but all other parts of the model are grayed out.

Complex process flow structures can be edited with SmartDesign part-by-part

4 - How does it work?

Each time you insert a new object in some column, a new object plus belonging connections are created and the whole structure is automatically layouted. You can also move existing objects in structure and SmartDesign will handle positions and also connections. It is very useful specially when you are editing hierarchical structures like organizational charts.

Structure is automatically layouted after each change and connections are also handled automatically

Supported object types and connections for columns are defined in a SmartDesign profile. SmartDesign profiles are model type related. SmartDesign is shipped with predefined profiles that you can use out of the box. You can also define your own SmartDesign profiles and extend your SmartDesign.

5 - How can I configure my own SmartDesign profile?

Configuration of a new SmartDesign profile is easy. You need to model sample structure that will contain all objects and connections that you want to have in your SmartDesign profile. Now, just select the structure and start the wizard.

Create sample structure and invoke "Configure SmartDesign"

The wizard has only four pages and it automatically creates columns. You can accept these “generated” columns or customize them. Each SmartDesign must have at least one column. The wizard also automatically determines what kind of structure it is: Hierarchy or Flow. You can define more than one SmartDesign profile per model type.

6 - How can I manage and maintain my SmartDesign profiles?

You can find a list of all SmartDesign profiles in a dedicated option page. You can remove existing SmartDesign profiles or edit them. You can change names of columns and also adjust order of columns. All names can be maintained in all installed languages.

Manage your SmartDesigns via dedicated option page

7 - How can I customize SmartDesign dialog?

The SmartDesign table is customizable. You can adjust column sizes and also hide/show whole columns for better usability.

Customize your SmartDesign table

You can create one big SmartDesign profile and then hide/show columns according to your current needs. You can also adjust size and position of the dialog. SmartDesign remembers last settings for each SmartDesign profile.

8 - Can I reuse existing objects in SmartDesign?

When you edit a cell in SmartDesign table, then there is the well known button with three dots. It allows you to pick already existing object from database instead of creating a new one.

Reuse of existing objects in ARIS SmartDesign

9 - Tips & Tricks

  • Watch toolbar in SmartDesign dialog. It will tell you what you can do with edited cell. Tooltips also show keyboard shortcuts.
  • Use Tab and Shift + Tab for faster navigation between columns.
  • Don’t be afraid to close dialog, you will not lose changes in edited cell. Dialog can be closed also with double Esc.
  • Define your own SmartDesign profiles, because you know how your models should look like.

10 - Conclusions

SmartDesign is a great feature for everyone who likes his keyboard and wants to capture his processes as fast as possible. It is also very innovative and intuitive. I like it and I recommend it to you.

Note: This article describe a feature introduced or extended with ARIS Platform 7.1 Service Release 5. See this post for links to similar articles.

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Stefan Geis posted on 2010-03-24


I am sure that you know what you refer to with

"You can find a list of all SmartDesign profiles in a dedicated option page."

Unfortunately, not me.

There are additional places where your otherwise excellent documentation can improve further if you guide your readers where to call which function. E.g. you remain rather quiet about the way(s) how to call the smart design dialog.

And: It is good to have a note that specifies the corresponding version of ARIS. As this is a prerequisite, I would place this in the beginning of the text. In case I would not have SR 5 installed already, I would also appreciate the download link...



Michal Ferko posted on 2010-03-24

Here are additional information about SmartDesign in SR5. I hope that it will help. You can find more information in our help.

Additional questions and answers about SmartDesign

Q: Which version of ARIS i need if i want to use SmartDesign?

A: Article describes SmartDesign in ARIS Platform 7.1 Service Release 5. If you have SR5 then you have also SmartDesign. SmartDesign is also available in ARIS Express but it is little bit different from SmartDesign in SR5.


Q: Where i can find list of all SmartDesign profiles?

A: You can find list of all SmartDesign profiles in dedicated option page:-)

Main menu -> View -> Options ->SmartDesign page

Q: How can i invoke SmartDesign dialog?

A: There is more than one way.

  • Toolbar buttons on main toolbar. There is one button for inserting a new structure and one for editing an existing structure.

Screenshot of toolbar

  • Entries in main menu. Again two menu entries. One for editing and one for inserting. Icons are same like in toolbar.

Item for editing can be found here: Main menu -> Edit -> SmartDesign menu item

Item for inserting can be found here: Main menu -> Insert -> SmartDesign menu item

  •  Context menu item. You can start editing on existing structure via context menu.











Stefan Geis posted on 2010-03-24



excellent! I do not have any dedicated questions anymore :D

Deepti Mittal posted on 2010-04-12

You have written in your article above " Watch the video below to get an idea what SmartDesign is all about"

I am unable to see any video....


Michal Ferko posted on 2010-04-12

Yep :-) You are right. There is no video in this article. There was a plan, to have video insted of first picture but at the end i didn't found time to make it and i forgot to change that sentence.

Here are videos from our video tutorials for Express:

SmartDesign in Express is little bit different from SmartDesign in ARIS Platform 7.1 Service Release 5 but videos will give you an idea how to work with it.



Cindy Chaplin posted on 2011-07-21

I would like to change the order of the columns in Smart Design so that the Output docs are always on the left and IT systems are always on the right but I cannot drag the columns or move them up and down on the "Show columns" display.  Is there some way I can do this? Thanks CINDY


Michal Ferko posted on 2011-07-21

Hi Cindy,

In ARIS Express is not possible to change order of columns in SmartDesign. This is possible only in SmartDesign which is part of ARIS Platform 7.1 Service Release 5  or higher (newer) version.