Seven Forms of Business Process Management With JBoss jBPM
Use Case 7 : Easy creation of DSLs
General purpose process languages are different from domain specific process languages. For example, think of a process language to specify approvals in an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. This gives a scoped functionality and a fixed environment. In such cases, a specific process language could be developed for this purpose.
One of the advantages of such dedicated languages is that they can be made simple enough so that non technical business users can actually create fully executable processes.
Another example of a domain specific process language is SEAM's Pageflow. It allows developers of a JSF based web site to specify the pages and navigations between the pages graphically.
There is even an easier way. Instead of creating a full process language for a specific purpose, it is also possible to leverage jPDL's capabilities and just add new node types to it. That is already possible in jBPM 3 and will be peanuts in jBPM 4, even adding graphical support in the process designer for these new node types will be made simple.
The typical understanding of BPM is that non technical business people create diagrams that then automagically get executed on a BPM system. The first use case 'BPM as a discipline' describes that point of view. The value lies in the fact that non technical business people can communicate with the developers around a diagram. That diagram facilitates the communication between business analysts and developers.
But even in that use case, the traditional understanding needs fine tuning. An analysis diagram at some point has to be converted into an executable process. At that moment, the responsibility over the process is transferred from the analyst to the developer. Many vendors have created the tools and illusion that this can be done automagically. But in practice, this black box approach creates more problems then it solves.
The description of the 7 individual use cases shows distinct aspects of BPM. Knowing the difference between service orchestration and 'BPM as a discipline' will be key for organizations to select the most appropriate technology.
All of the use cases have at least a technical side. That is understandable as all the use cases here target some form of software automation at some point. And other use cases target solely technical aspects. That is why the embeddability of jBPM is so important. Monolithic BPM engines have a high treshold to be incorporated into a typical software development project. jBPM has a big focus on delivering solutions for these distinct use cases to developers in a way that is easy for them to consume and integrate into their own software development project.
Tom Baeyens is the founder and lead of JBoss jBPM, the leading open source BPM system. Tom mission is to bring the power of BPM technology into the hands of the developers. He's a frequent speaker at international conferences and maintains a blog at http://processdevelopments.blogspot.com
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