Events

An Event is something that "happens" during the course of a Process. These Events affect the flow of the Process and usually have a cause or an impact and in general require or allow for a reaction. The term "event" is general enough to cover many things in a Process. The start of an Activity, the end of an Activity, the change of state of a document, a Message that arrives, etc., all could be considered Events.
— BPMN 2.0.2 Standard, 10.5, Events

In Flowable, events are triggers which either start, modify or complete a process. Events are represented as circles containing other symbols based on event type. There are three types of events: Start Events, End Events and Intermediate Events.

  • Start Events indicate where a process starts.

  • End Events indicate where a path of a process ends.

  • Intermediate Events indicate that something happens between start and end of a process.

For a process model to be executable, it must always contain at least one start event and one end event. Intermediate events can be placed if required. A simple example containing all three types of incoming could be the following process:

Simple Events Process

The process starts with a None Start Event followed by two activities. Then, the Intermediate Timer Event waits for an hour. After that, a final activity is being executed and the process ends with a None End Event.

As you can see, the Start Event can only have an outgoing sequence flow. The intermediate event has both, an incoming and and outgoing sequence flow and the end event only has an incoming sequence flow.

Additionally, every event is either throwing or catching. A catching event waits for something to happen. A throwing event allows another part of your process (or a new process) to proceed or to start. Every Start Event is a catching event because it waits for something to happen. Every End Event is a throwing event.

Finally, there are Boundary Events which are attached to tasks, sub-process, or a call activities. They are waiting for an event to happen while that activity is active. If the event occurs, the process execution follows the outgoing sequence of that boundary event. The following process shows how a boundary event could be used:

Simple Events Process

The process starts with a User Task, prompting a user to enter some data. Attached to this task, a Boundary Timer Event is starting a count down of one day, once the task has been activated. If the User Task has not been completed after a day, the execution continues to the Mail Task. After the Mail Task, there is an End Event. This does not mean that the process is completed! Instead, the task remains open until the user completes it. If you want to achieve this behavior, you must place an interrupting event.

Most BPMN Boundary Events can be both, interrupting or non-interrupting. Interrupting means that the activity is completed and the flow continues down the event’s sequence flow. In Flowable, the attribute Cancel activity determines whether or not an event is interrupting. The following example illustrates an example where an interrupting event makes sense:

Simple Events Process

This process is triggered by an incoming message. Then, the user has one hour to enter the activation code. If she fails to do so, the code is invalidated and the process is completed. Unlike in the example before, the circle of this event is dotted, indicating that the event is interrupting.

List of all Supported Event Types in Flowable

Name Start Intermediate Catching Intermediate Throwing Boundary End

None Start Event

None Intermediate Throwing Event

None End Event

Message Start Event

Message Intermediate Catching Event

Message Boundary Event

Timer Start Event

Timer Intermediate Catching Event

Timer Boundary Event

Event Start

Event Throwing

Event End

Event Throwing

Event End

Event Throwing

Event Start

Timer

Event Throwing

Event Throwing

Event Throwing