How to use Metro Maps to Visualize Dataflow for a Business Audience

Apr 5, 2022
Written by
Maarten Steen
Maarten Steen
Matthijs Scholten
Matthijs Scholten

How to use Metro Maps to Visualize Dataflow for a Business Audience

ArchiMate is the modeling language of choice for most enterprise architects. When ArchiMate is communicated to a business audience, however, the default visualization is often perceived as too technical. To solve this, Bizzdesign is creating alternative ways of visualizing ArchiMate models, such as the Metro Map. The new Metro Map view visualizes dataflow or processes more intuitively for a business audience as ‘metro lines’ flowing between ‘stations’, representing applications or business functions.

A metro map from the London Underground. Stations are visualized as circles, and colored lines represent different routes between the stations. (source:

Step-by-Step: How to create a Metro Map in Enterprise Studio

Step 1: Select the ArchiMate model content you want to visualize 
The image below shows the functional decomposition diagram from the ArchiSurance TOGAF example model. One of its purposes is to show how information flows between the various business functions. This is a great starting point for creating a dataflow Metro Map visualization. Simply select and copy the objects and relations you want to include in your map.


Functional decomposition diagram from ArchiSurance 

Step 2: Create a dataflow Metro Map 
Create a new Metro Map view using the context menu in the model browser and paste the content selected in Step 1 onto the view. Next, use the on-canvas dropdown menu first to perform an automatic layout of the view and then to auto color the lines by name.


Generated and auto laid out Dataflow Metro Map 

Step 3: Refine the visualization 
You get a clearer visualization at the push of a button (see the figure below) by removing some superfluous ‘stations’, playing a bit with their position, using the relation layout and manually repositioning the labels. It’s also possible to manually change the color of the lines, the size of the stations and the formatting of their labels. Now you can have a meaningful discussion with business stakeholders about the information that flows through the organization.

Figure 4 Dataflow Metro Map with improved layout 

The Metro Map visualization abstracts from details, such as the type of objects and the direction of the flow relations. Those details are usually not important for a meaningful discussion or can be presented in a voice-over. In addition, it’s possible to organize the diagram so that most flows point to the right or down, which most people perceive as the natural direction.

3 Different methods to create a Metro Map in Enterprise Studio

Methods to create a Metro Map in Enterprise Studio include:

  1. As discussed in the example above, you can copy-paste one or more objects and relations from an existing view to a newly created Metro Map view. The objects assume the metro station visualization, but the layout remains more or less the same as in the original view. Now invoke Layout view (F6) and Color by name to get an initial Metro Map visualization and legend. After that, you can manually change the positions of the stations and use Layout relations (F7) to improve your Metro Map.
  2. A second method to get started is to use the Generate View For command on the selected object(s) to generate an initial Metro Map view. In the dialog, select view type Metro Map, deselect all relation types except Flow relation, select Depth ‘1’ and Layout afterward.
  3. The third method is to drag and drop flow relations from the model browser onto a newly created or existing Metro Map view. Again, use the automatic layout and coloring functions from the on-canvas menu to obtain the line coloring and legend.

A tip before you begin: Ensure that the flow relations are named, as their names determine the color. For more advanced use cases, it’s also possible to select another attribute to base the color on via the on-canvas dropdown menu.

Using Metro Maps for other business visualizations

Dataflow is just one example that could be visualized as a Metro Map to facilitate communication with the business. Our Metro Map view can also visualize processes (triggering relations), as illustrated below. What other applications can you think of?

Process flow Metro Map 

Share with us

We’re interested in hearing about the visualizations that you create to communicate with your business stakeholders. Please share your visualizations with us, or if you need more information on Bizzdesign’s Metro Map feature, contact us.