Difference Between UML and BPMN

Simply speaking, UML is a visual modeling language which specifies, visualizes, constructs and documents the artifacts in a software system. To generate codes and test various cases in the business and real-world realm,UML is utilised. It has relevance mainly in areas like web applications and embedded systems. On the other hand, BPMN is a common modeling notation that is used to fill in the gaps between a business process design and the ideal implementation of it.


The main difference between UML and BPMN is that of it’s approach. UML is an object-oriented modeling language mainly focused to develop IT systems whereas BPMN is a process-oriented modeling language applicable to both IT and business system improvement. An example of UML is purchasing a ticket at a ticket vending machine and an example of BPMN is the process of buying tickets virtually.


UML stands for Unified Modeling Language which evolved in 1990 as general use, experimental, modeling language in which the software engineering intends to provide a basic, structured, and standardized approach to build an effective visualized system design. It is an object-oriented programming method that represents two different views in a systemic model which are Static and Dynamic.

On the other hand, BPMN stands for Business Process Model and Notation. It was released in 2004 as Business Process Management Initiative. It was officially released as BPMN in February 2006. Basically, BPMN is a graphical representation of specified business processes in a business process model. It is subdivided into three basic types namely Private business processes, Abstract processes, and Collaboration processes.

Comparison Table Between UML and BPMN

Parameters of ComparisonUMLBPMN
Full FormUnified Modeling LanguageBusiness Process Model and Notation
MeaningIt is general purpose visual modeling language intended to specify, visualize, construct, and document the artifacts of a software system.It is graphical representation of business processes in model with the primary goal of providing a notation that is easily understandable by all business users.
Aimaims at modelling software system.aims at modelling business processes.
Approachobject oriented approachprocess oriented approach
Representation represents all the seven views to be released within the notation.represents two views and is not able to capture all seven defined views.
Applicabilitywide applicability in developing IT systemswide applicability in IT and business field.

What is UML?

UML was invented by Grady Booch, Ivar Jacobson, and James Rumbaugh in the year 1995. Precisely, UML is a set of rules made specifically for drawing diagrams. It enhances creating professional documentation which form an integral part of project developments around the globe. It’s the latest version is the UML 2.5.1 that came out in December of 2017.

UML is divided into two particular categories which are structural information and behavior. Structure Diagram represents the static aspect of the system and emphasizes on particulars that must be available in the system being modeled. On the other hand, the behavior diagram represents dynamic aspects of the system in which it emphasizes on what should actually happen in the system that is being modeled. They are of primary usage in describing the functionality of software systems.

UML is a generalized modeling language different from other software programming languages like python and c++ because of its characteristics. It is object-oriented designed and analyzed hence it is pictorially used to generate powerful modeling elements. It can also be used to visualize the workflow of a factory through its elaborate work style hence it is recognized as an ISO standard and many industries use it for developing documentation and model blueprints.

What is BPMN?

BPMN  gives a graphical, statistical, and pictorial representation using shapes, markers, and arrows which allows easy understanding and easy flow of information. BPMN was made to cover a variety of range of usages and allow end-to-end business processes. The three end-to-end classifications of BPMN are Private, Abstract, and Collaboration processes.

Private business processes are the internal specific organizations and are the type of process that are generally called as workflow. The sequence flow of the process is restricted within the limited area and cannot cross the boundaries of that area. On the other hand, Abstract processes represent an interaction between private and other processes. These include activities outside the private pool. Lastly, the collaboration process represents an interaction or conversation between two or more business entities. This type of processes is modeled individually or separately or within a larger BPMN program to enhance the relationship formed between the collaboration process and it’s other activities.

BPMN shows four types of elements for business processes namely Flow objects, connecting objects, swimlanes, and artifacts. Flow objects represent a wide range of events, activities, and gateways which will connect objects represented in sequence flow, message flow, and association. Swimlanes as the name suggest having a pool and lane whereas, artifacts have data objects, group, and annotations.

Main Differences Between UML and BPMN

  1. UML is a general-use visual modeling language which intends to be specific, visualized, constructive, and documented in the artifacts of a software system.  On the other hand, BPMN is a graphical representation of business processes in a model with the primary goal of providing a notation that is easily understandable by all business users.
  2. UML aims at modeling software systems. BPMN aims at modeling business processes.
  3. UML has a business-oriented approach whereas BPMN has a process-oriented approach.
  4. UML represents all the seven views to be released within the notation. Whilst BPMN represents two views and is not able to capture all seven defined views.
  5. UML has wide applicability in developing IT systems. On the other hand, wide applicability in IT and business fields.


Though both works in an IT or business-oriented approach and have standardized graphical notation, they are not similar. BPMN is becoming the leader and de-facto standard in the business process domain because it has a process-oriented approach. The main difference between the two is perspective and applicability. BPMN is widely applicable in the IT sector and business, and UML is suited to improving IT processes.

In UML, specialization means creating new subclasses from an existing class and applying certain attributes, associations, and methods to some of the objects of the class. UML is highly recognized and understood as a platform for software design. It assumes that most software professionals will be less acquainted with UML diagrams and makes it a go-to alternative to explain software design.

Whereas, BPMN is an interesting approach due to its new version. It executes tasks depending upon their type. Most messages are compulsory to flow barding a few. Also, their start and end events are optional and message events and message tasks are almost equal. They allow free-flowing text annotations with the word “CAN.” Hence BPMN is becoming the leader of the business domain due to these features.


  1. https://eprints.qut.edu.au/20107/
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=b6L0AwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=uml+vs+bpmn&ots=8cvk_P3yzZ&sig=Tto8dQv_CDqdkd9bCdO-eeEUFQA
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