Thursday, 30 June 2011

BPM 11g Advanced Workshop

Last week I was on a trip to Lissabon for a BPM 11g Advanced Workshop. In the same event there were also advanced courses on ADF and Webcenter.

It was a pleasant week since there were showers all over the place in the Netherlands. Since the pentacost weekend there nearly wasn't a dry moment over here. Portugal was cloudless and the ocean was really refreshing.

The BPM workshop was actually about building a POC on the process of handling a request on increasing the credit limit on a credit card of a fictive bank. You had to create an application with a team of 3 or 4 members involving:
  • ADF Web application for initiating the process using either Webservice or (better) EDN.
  • Advanced Business Rules for determining the allowed increase
  • ADF Human Task for approval screens
  • Implementing Conversation/Correlation constructs using BPEL to be able to have cancel or fraud-detection messages influencing the running process. BPM currently lacks functionality to handle multiple conversations/correlations.
  • BAM, BAM, BAM (seen as highly convincing in a POC)
 Although it was not required, I for myself was so stubborn to insist on creating a Custom ADF Human Task screen to initiate the BPM Process. Since I've ran in to that problem in an earlier BPM11g try-out. I started on an investigation on what to do to rebuild an BPM10R3 project into BPM11g.

BPM11g is a real new product. The way I see it, there is little from the old BPM10 product. You could find a significant part from BPM10 in the modeller (studio). But the engine part is replaced by the one used by BPEL Process Manager as a base. On top of that all the parts needed to run BPM processes are added.
BPM10 projects tend to have loads of PBL code, snippets of program code or sometimes larger amounts of code to implement a specific automatic action. For most it is used to build up request messages to call (web)services and process the response messages. But it is not unusual to have script-tasks to calculate outcomes of business rules, or other business values. Often this is done on methods of objects in object model in the Business Category. It is the part of BPM10 I was suprised of the most. Since you would not find this in BPEL (if you would left out embedded java tasks) and it should not be needed in a tool that is targeted to Business Users. In BPM11g it is not needed, because you can use XSLT and XPath (or alike) expressions to process messages. And ADF BC to display corresponding data in your Human Task Screens.
I learned that Oracle is going to support scripting in the BPM12c release. But it will be deprecated upon introduction. Since you would not need it and should not use it. Only to be able to migrate your projects to 12c. But from there onwards you should replace your code with Data associations and Transformations. Also as a best practice: only keep the data in your project that is really needed, for example Primary/Foreign key values. All relating data needed to display in the screens you can query along using ADF BC. And that's basically what I wanted to learn about.

Another neat subject we've got presented was about the upcoming feature pack that is scheduled for the summer. It is explicitly stated as not being a Patch Set. Because it's not primarily focused on bugfixing but on adding new features. To name a few:
  • Business Rules made simpeler
  • Support for conversation/correlation on message exchanges with multiple external systems. As you can and  should do now with BPEL
  • Migration from Oracle Workflow!
The latter I found very surprising. It has been for years stated that Oracle ends with Oracle Workflow from the end of support of the 10g product-line. A very big pity if you're asking me. I would very much support the idea that Oracle should give Oracle Workflow over to the Open Source community. But that aside. Since in 2004 Collaxa was acquired because of the BPEL PM, it was thought to be the replacement for OWF. Although until SOASuite11g there was no alternative foreseen for OWF's Business Event System. With SOASuite11g there is an alternative in ways of EDN (Event Delivery Network). But because of this migration tool apparently BPM is rightly seen as the replacement of OWF. Although it is kind of late. Because I suppose there are not yet so many OWF Customers left. Oracle should have already convinced them all over to BPEL. Particularly Oracle EBusiness Suite customers could still have complex custom workflows. For those customers the migration to BPM11g would be very interesting.

After all it was a very good and recommendable course. Having worked and talked and dined with more or less Oracle SOA/BPM Specialist all over Europe and the people from Oracle Product Mgt. I hope I have been able to give you a glimpse on the week to get tasty for another round of this event. I hope I can get into the ADF or Webcenter class... Not only because Lissabon is nice...

And now we wait ... , for
  • The sun breaking through in Holland
  • A nice vacation in France
  • ehm, oh yes: the SOA/BPM feature pack to be released this summer

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