BPMN to BPEL: going to battle with one hand tied?

William Vambenepe writes, “I have been looking at business process modeling and I am a bit puzzled about the connections between the different goals (strategy support, process documentation, automated execution….), audiences (LOB, business analysts, developers…) and tools (process editor, registry, simulation bench, IDE…). I see how it would be nice for all these to play well together. What I don’t quite see is exactly how the current tools achieve that.

One example is the goal of improving communications between business analysts and developers by allowing analysts to capture as much of the intended process as possible in a way that can be easily consumed by developers. That is a worthy goal and it should be eventually achievable (though maybe in a reformulated form) based on industry trends (who would have thought that one day business people would use their own computers to retrieve business data rather than having an operator print documents for them). But it is still a very difficult goal, for which many inherent barriers (in terms of shared vocabulary, skills and mindset) must be overcome. My concern is that the current approaches add many artificial barriers to those intrinsic to the problem.

One source of such artificial barriers is that incompatible business process description languages come into play. One common example is the use of BPMN for analyst-level modeling followed by a translation to BPEL for development tasks. I ran into an example of an incompatibility between the two very early in my experimentations with BPMN, in the form of the “inclusive OR” (the diamond with a circle inside in BPMN).

Read the complete article by William Vambenepe.

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