Workflow Patterns support in jBPM Designer

November 15, 2012

Modelling business processes requires of course knowledge of your business domain, but for untrained business users having to describe processes using BPMN2 is a daunting task at times. Having to go through 500+ pages of the specification (and understanding/learning it) is one thing, but then having to apply it as well requires experience just like with anything else that’s new.

I believe that tooling support is critical for BPM modelling. Probably as critical as the specifications itself. Good modelling tools for BPM (especially ones that are free and open source) are hard to find and I do believe that jBPM Designer is the top open-source modelling tool out there currently. The problem however arises with introducing intuitive design that allows users to focus on their business domain, and not the underlying specification(s). One of the ways to approach this is to introduce multiple layers of “building blocks” or abstractions on top of the core BPMN2 expressive nature and thus decreasing the amount of work that does not pertain to the actual creation of the business process requirements.

 
We are in the near future going to put a lot of effort in building a number of these building blocks in jBPM Designer. These include custom stencil sets based on the process dictionary or existing processes, data templates, as well as look into alternative ways of creating processes such as checklists, decision-table-like structures, etc.

To get there however we have to take small steps and the first one is the introduction of Workflow Patterns in the BPMN2 stencil set:

Workflow Patterns in stencil set

You can think of Workflow Patterns as a catalog of lower level building blocks for process execution. They include multiple nodes that are already connected with each other to form a common pattern that can be typically used (and re-used!) in a business process model.

Currently we support 11 workflow patterns and users have the ability to create their own as well.

Let’s take a look at an example on how to use Workflow Patterns in jBPM Designer (click on the images to enlarge. Description are within the images).

How to start using Workflow Patterns

Workflow Pattern drawn on the canvas

Combining Workflow Patterns

Combined Workflow Patterns

Create your own Workflow Patterns

Let us know what you think and have fun :)


Local History support in jBPM Designer

November 13, 2012

We have added a new and very useful feature to jBPM Designer – Local History support.

Local History automatically stores your process model information to the browser using HTML5 Web Storage on a preset interval. This allows you to

- Be able to restore previous versions of your model even if you did not / forgot to save your model.

- Be able to restore your work in cases your computer/ browser crashes, or you go offline.

- View all changes in your process between model saves.

- Have more assurance that your work will not get lost.

So let’s see what this looks like (click on the images below to enlarge). Description of the features are contained within the images.

Local History Menu

View Local History Entries for your process model

View the Process Image for each entry

Restoring an entry from the Local History

Configuring Local History via xml

We would like to thank our community contributor Gábor Farkas for his idea for this new feature as well as the initial commit for it. Gábor is a Java EE developer at Doctusoft Ltd and has been involved with the jBPM community for a while now – Thanks Gábor!


Using jBPM Designer in IE

October 4, 2012

Eric D. Schabell has written a great article that describes how to set up the jBPM Designer to be used on Internet Explorer. This setup is needed because of traditionally bad support for SVG and JavaScript in IE. With this the jBPM Designer is supported on all major browsers.


How Guvnor and Designer talk to each other – great post by Marco Rietveld

October 4, 2012

Marco Rietveld, one of the core developers working on jBPM and Drools has posted a really nice summary of the “behind-the-scenes” communication of jBPM Designer and Drools Guvnor. He also writes about the ongoing work for jBPM Designer to have its local persistence storage which would allow it to be used as a stand-alone BPMN2 modeller as well as still be able to utilize alternative storage options such as Drools Guvnor.


jBPM Designer 2.4.0.Beta1 released

October 4, 2012

jBPM Designer 2.4.0.Beta1 has been released and is available for download on SourceForge.

This release includes a number of bug fixes and the experimental BPM Simulation feature which we continue to improve upon. We will have at least one more Beta release before 2.4.0.Final to allow the community to give us as much feedback as possible especially on process simulation.

 


Two great blog posts on jBPM

September 13, 2012

Branislav Cavlin strikes again with two great blog posts on jBPM

1. Why use jBPM and Drools

2. Displaying jBPM diagram of the current process

 

Make sure to check them out!


Business Process Simulation in jBPM Designer

September 13, 2012

I’m very happy to blog about a new and exciting feature we have added to the jBPM Designer: Business Process Simulation.

This is still an experimental feature and subject to changes, so community input is very important. Business Process Simulation allows you to to simulate your process model, and view helpful simulation results that can guide you to improve your model as well as be able to better understand it and describe it to your peers and/or customers.

 
The below video showcasts Business Process Simulation in Designer as it is now. Make sure to watch it and give your feedback by either posting your questions/opinions here or hit us up on the jBPM user mailing list, IRC, or the jBPM forum.


Some important features of jBPM Simulation in Designer:

* Use of the BPS (Business Process Simulation) specification

* Simulation engine is based on jBPM 5 (of course )

* Easy to work with and extend

You can start using this new feature now by building the jBPM Designer from source. To do that run:

git clone https://github.com/droolsjbpm/jbpm-designer.git

cd jbpm-designer

mvn clean install

and use one of the three different wars generated in the /target directory.

Enjoy :)


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