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Describe the BPMN Exclusive Gateway and how it is used in process modeling.

Posted by Chris Adams

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Categories: Business Analysis, Systems Analysis, Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN)


An Exclusive Gateway is one of the most common gateways used in BPMN and is depicted as an empty diamond or can be show as a diamond with an “X” within it.  The empty diamond is most commonly used by modelers.  As a best practice, once the modeler chooses which symbol to use he should be consistent throughout the diagram.

BPMN Exclusive Gateway

When used as a diverging gateway (splitting the sequence flow into many paths), an exclusive gateway can have 2 or more outgoing paths.  It is used to direct the sequence flow along a single path where the condition evaluates to “True”.   When using an exclusive gateway ONE AND ONLY ONE path can be taken for a given instance of a process which is why the term exclusive is used.  Each condition is checked until a condition evaluates to true.  Once a condition evaluates to true the flow proceeds along that path (a single token is emitted) and no other conditions are checked.

BPMN Exclusive Gateway Example

Often, there is one path which is identified as the default path.  This means that if no other path condition evaluates to true then the default path will automatically proceed.  If the process modeler fails to define a default path and none of the path conditions evaluate to true then a runtime exception occurs.

When used as a converging gateway, an exclusive gateway will pass along any token it receives without synchronization.   This should intuitively make sense since the exclusive gateway is most commonly used to merge the paths which came from a diverging exclusive gateway where only one condition is permitted to evaluate to true and emit a token.  If the converging exclusive gateway waited for other tokens for synchronization, it would be waiting forever.



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Do your homework prior to the business analysis interview!

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