Thursday, 30 September 2010

Activiti 5.0.beta2 Released

After a really exciting and productive month, we're proud to present Activiti 5.0.beta2:
  • Added Activiti Designer, an eclipse plugin for process authoring targetted for developers
    • Design BPMN processes grafically: start event, end event, sequence flow, parallel gateway, exclusive gateway, embedded subprocess, script task, user task and service task.
    • Generate JUnit test case by right click on the process in the package explorer
    • Run the JUnit test with an embedded h2 database
    • Configure Java class for a service task
    • Configure assignee or candidate for a user task
    • Configure script with a script task
  • Added DB support for MySQL and PostgreSQL
  • Activiti Modeler and Activiti Engine are now synced on the final BPMN 2.0 specification
  • New improved version of Activiti Modeler
  • Loads of Activiti Cycle improvements
  • Added JDK 5 compatibility
  • Added history activity instances
  • Added unit testing support
  • Added email support and receive activity
  • Added optimistic locking for out-of-the-box clustering support
  • Added more query APIs
  • Minor API cleanup
Download Activiti 5.0.beta2 or browse the userguide or the javadocs.
Also interesting to check out is the Activiti Grails plugin.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Camunda Screencast Of BPM Collaboration With Activiti

Camunda compiled an excellent screencast showing how the different Activiti components work together. It's based on the latest 5.0.beta1 release.

Camunda leads the Activiti Cycle component that facilitates collaboration between business people, developers and system admins.

We are very proud to have Camunda as part of the Activiti community because they have a huge experience of hands-on BPM projects and that expertise and vision is vital for building the practical BPM collaboration features of Activiti Cycle. Glad to have you on board, Guys!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Screencast Of Activiti On The iPhone

Only a day after Signavio launched process modeling on the iPad, we're here to present the iPhone version of Activiti Explorer, the app to check your task list and complete tasks using forms. Click on the iPhone to see the demo screencast

Yuri Horbach earned our utmost respect. Congrats, Yuri! Very well done.

Yuri will aim to have this app available through the AppStore in October.

More information can be found in the wiki page Activiti and iPhone. Watch that page to be kept up to date on this cool feature!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Tunnel Vision In The BPM Market

InfoQ's Will Business Adopt BPMN 2.0? made me write up my thoughts on a blind spot in the BPM world.

Very big attention goes to the business side of BPM. And that is for good reason as that is the side that makes the money go round. Bruce Silver's quest to learn everyone the fine grained details of BPMN is really valuable. That's what I consider the efforts needed from the business side to align business and IT. The levels of BPMN that Bruce initiated are really important and make it possible for BPMN to support a broad audience, from occasional reader to full time business analyst. I believe BPMN contains already depth enough as the finest details are probably only reserved for the happy few.

The technical side of BPM (and BPMN for that matter) does not get the same depth of attention. Historically, BPM's goal was to eliminate the need for IT people all together. Recently a general awareness has grown that IT and developers can't really be replaced by non tech business analysts using a magical BPM System.

But many people in BPM don't seem to get the full implications of that trend. This post is a protest against the tunnel vision that seems to be as stubborn as a greenpeace activist in a rubber boat. In the industry, everyone talks about business-IT alignment. But only the business aspects are looked at in depth. The requirements that technical people have for BPM Systems are still overlooked and ignored.

The challenge for BPM system builders is: "How can we offer this tool to developers so that they can provide business people with the agility they need?" That's where there has been a painful silence.

One aspect that has been tackled properly in the BPMS community is web services. BPMN 2.0 is basically a superset of BPEL. That is good. In the infrastructure of an average organization, you'll find many off-the-shelf products and internal components that expose functionalities as web services. So there is definitely the technical need to call out to web services from a BPMN process. A good BPMS should make it easy to call out to web services and to deal with the data manipulations of XML structured data.

The mistake of associating BPM with webservices (cfr BPEL) in the past comes from a lack of technical depth in BPM. From a CIO perspective, it might make sense to standardize on web services for communication between different systems in an organization. But assuming such a unified web services world as a prerequisite is really shortsighted. Building a BPM System with a hard dependency on a WSDL infrastructure and places such BPM solutions automatically in a niche.

As a first example, RESTful web services have been given too little attention. Also those can be found in many of today's organizations and hence the process language should be able to work with them easily.

Even more so Java architectures are under emphasized. Calling a Spring bean from a BPMN process with a Java Unified Expression Language makes it so much easier for developers using Spring. The ability of the BPMS to use the dataSource bean and the transactionManager bean straight from the developers' Spring configuration is also needed to achieve agility. Another example is storing native Java objects as process variables. Or even easy linking between process and the user's domain objects that are persisted with JPA or hibernate. Also declarative transaction demarcation (aka asynchronous continuations) is a really valuable instrument to merge technical developer's concerns into a process for which the diagram is expressed on a business level.

As a side note, I'm very happy that BPMN 2.0 doesn't assume a unified WSDL world and makes it possible for BPM System vendors to build in native support for e.g. REST, Java, Grails or any other technical aspect.

Since as long as I can remember, the business-only focussed BPM market has always been very promising. And yet, that very market remains fragmented and volatile with each player fighting for a niche. I blame that clearly on the lack of technical insight into how BPM Systems should be build and offered to a development team.

In the past, the solution in the BPM industry was to broaden out to auxiliary functionalities such as simulation, optimization and collaboration. I don't want to criticize those functions individually, but many BPM vendors even claim that you have to have all these in order to do something useful. I'ld say that's smoke and mirrors. A BPM runtime engine alone should be able to offer value and make sense standalone. If that's not the case, all the other auxiliary functions won't fix it. As Peter Jones says (9:10): "That's stretching the brand as an elastic band. If you stretch it too far, the band breaks". BPM should go back to the basics: a runtime engine that runs executable business processes which are the result of a business-IT collaboration.

Instead of trying to exclude the developers from the equation in business-IT alignment, the BPM industry should think about what features the developers need in a BPM System so that the BPM System fits in their world also. Combining the software developers build with processes in a BPM System should painless. When the BPM System embeds seamless into the developers architecture, then developers can translate business changes faster and more effective into software updates.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Grails Activiti Plugin 5.0.beta1 Released

Quoting Chee Kin:

I would like to announce the Grails Activiti Plugin 5.0.beta1 Released.

Grails Activiti Plugin is created to integrate Activiti BPM Suite and workflow system to Grails Framework.
With the Grails Activiti Plugin, workflow application can be created at your fingertips!

What's new:
* Update Activiti's jar files and examples to 5.0.beta1.
* Introduced Dependency Injection for RuntimeService, RepositoryService and HistoryService (API Update).

You can find out more about this plugin at following links:
* Project Site and Documentation:
* Support: ... ssues/list

Chee Kin

Well, done, Chee!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

What Do BPM Industry Experts Say About Activiti?

James Tayler had a first look at Activiti. It's a very accurate and well written overview of Alfresco's motivations and the direction of the Activiti project. He concludes:
I liked the potential of the collaboration environment to bridge the gaps when rules and process are both being used in a solution and I also liked the potential of applying content management to business rules. Interesting ideas both of them and I look forward to learning more.
This confirms what the BPM Analysts have said about us at the launch. Joram created a nice overview of the reactions:
  • Sandy Kemsley, renowned BPM analyst, wrotea an objective analysis of the Activiti platform. She is eager to see how Activiti will evolve. And we won’t dissapoint her.
  • BPM expert Scott Francis of BP3 wrote a very motivating blogpost. He actually downloaded the distribution and played with it. Let me quote him a few times here
  • “Did I mention that the whole stack ran just fine, natively, on my Mac as well as a Windows VM?”
  • “The documentation is already pretty comprehensive, and gets down to no-nonsense details (not true for many commercial products).”
  • “I think the market is ripe for an open source BPM platform that leverages standard underlying technologies and is built from the beginning to allow for cloud-based deployment”
  • “We may end up investing some time in the project ourselves.”

Activiti is likely to shake-up the BPM market with a ubiquitous project that supports the BPMN 2.0 standard from the Object Management Group.

business processes and work-flow are aspects of most business software and integratingembeddable BPM will be a key element in reducing the cost of business software development.

It's great fun to shake the BPM market ;-)

Activiti 5.0.beta1 Rocks

This release