Maybe having a look at Activiti Cycle and the Signavio Core Components (and the Activiti Modeler) could be interessting for you in this case?
See e.g. http://www.bpm-guide.de/2011/03/22/the-bpm-roundtrip-with-activiti-cycle/. This is not tied to the Activiti Engine and could be integrated with jBPM 5 as well. Actually a big pilot customer uses this approach with jBPM 3. And jBPM 4 based a web modeler on the same code base for the modeler (actually the Signavio Core Components are the successor of Oryx, which is now an officially abandonned project).
As Bernd mention, Oryx was the name of the project a long time ago. The maintained branch that it's being used in jBPM5 it's called WAPAMA and there are a couple if big companies like Red Hat and Intalio supporting it and improving it to bring you the ultimate modeling experience.
We are also working, as a community effort, to be able to run all the activiti's UIs using jBPM5 in the back to demonstrate the advantages of running with a Rule Engine integrated and also with all the Complex Events processing features. For more information please take a look at the Smart Tasks Project here: https://github.com/salaboy/smart-tasks
Wow, you certainly have ressurected an old thread You should really check out the improvements jBPM Designer has gotten over the last year+ : http://surdilovic.wordpress.com/. We have just released Designer 2.3.0.Final as well: http://surdilovic.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/jbpm-designer-2-3-0-final-released/.
The tie to the Guvnor repository is still there, however will be lifted in the next Designer release. We are working on alternative storage options as we speek.
Hope this helps.
Sorry for resurrecting such an old thread.
I have integrated jBPM Designer into our application with the Guvnor backend. Currently all of our bpmns are stored on the filesystem and I am using the Guvnor REST API to temporarily add the bpmn to the Guvnor repository so it can be edited with jBPM Designer. It works but it is far from ideal and we would like to remove the Guvnor dependency.
Do you have an estimated timeline for when the next release will be and is the working code repository publically available? This is for a team of clinical researchers who are used to working with pre-alpha software so we aren't turned off by unstable software and completely broken sofware. This project is currently being developed for in house use but will be released as open source in October of this year.