Archive for September 10th, 2009

BPMN 2.0 – a sneak preview

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The BPMN 2.0 standard has entered its finalization phase. The first books about it have already been written, for instance by Bruce Silver (in English) and by Jakob Freund (in German). First big events have already taken place, for instance the BPMN 2.0 evening organized by the Berlin BPM Initiative. Now the time has come for the tool vendors. They have to deliver the implementations. The last contradictions and bugs in the spec can only be identified by putting the many details into software.

To date, no tool vendor has presented a BPMN 2.0 solution to a broader audience. This is not surprising as the release date of the standard is still many months ahead of us. However, many development departments are busy producing code in this direction.

BPMN 2.0 Conversation Diagram

The two new diagram types, namely conversation diagrams and choreographies, are among the challenges of a BPMN 2.0 implementation. New diagram types means new constructs and connection rules. It can be expected that many vendor will refuse to implement it all and rather focus on extending the well known process/collaboration diagrams. An additional event symbol here – an additional attribute there. The standardization body behind BPMN 2.0 anticipated this: So called conformance classes define which parts of the spec must be implemented by a tool and which not.

Even more interesting than having two addition diagram types is another topic: Consistency between diagrams. While diagrams were often considered in isolation from each other in BPMN 1.x (except for process hierarchies that could be established through the subprocess mechanism), BPMN 2.0 follows a multi-perspective approach. For instance, the structure defined in a conversation diagram is refined through choreographies and collaboration diagrams. Therefore, the models are a lot more related than before. Tools that treat diagrams as isolated documents will have a serious problem here. If relationships between models cannot be maintained, then ensuring consistency will be left to the talented modeler.

BPMN 2.0 Choreography DiagramThere are good news for all those of you who can’t wait to experiment with BPMN 2.0. The tool vendor Signavio closely collaborates with the Hasso-Plattner-Institute regarding the implementation of BPMN 2.0. This new editor is released in the context of the BPM Academic Initiative and made available to the academic community (and of course to the BPMN 2.0 evangelization crowd). That way, people can evaluate it over the next months.

Realizing all modeling constructs, syntax rules and attributes in the editor – that’s the ambitious goal. Syntax checking will locate errors. As a next step, the standardized serialization format will be added. The lack of such an interchange format was one of the big weaknesses of BPMN 1.x. Let’s see how strictly the different vendors are going to respect it.

BPMN 2.0 Collaboration DiagramYou can get a good first impression of the BPMN 2.0 editor using this screencast. It shows all three diagram types and how elements can be linked with each other using the glossary functionality. If you are interested in playing around with it yourself, you can log into the academic modeling platform. This initiative will be launched in the context of the BPM 2009 conference in Ulm on September 8. The two main developers behind the BPMN 2.0 editor, namely Sven Wagner-Boysen and Philipp Giese, are already looking forward to the feedback of the first users.

More details about the BPM Academic Initiative: At and in this blog entry:

Watch BPMN 2.0 Screencast

BPMN 2.0 on YouTube

Summing up BPM’09

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BPM’09 in Ulm was great. Thanks to Sandy Kemsley it was also well covered in the blogosphere. That allows me to point out my personal highlights and link to her posts for further reading.

  • John Hoogland – Change in Control (keynote)
    My favorite keynote. It was honest, humble, and enlightening. He contrasted the marketing blah of the BPM vendors with the reality he sees (and we all know). Most insightful, even with the most advanced customers they roll out 2-5 process updates per year. That’s process agility in 2009.
  • Discovering Process Models from unlabelled event logs (Conference Talk)
    A fundamental assumption for process mining is that the event log contains case IDs. That means, you may log information in your system but only if the log entry refers to the process instance you can make sense of it. Diogo Ferriera showed a technique to overcome this limitation. Impressive scientific contribution and presentation-wise my favorite talk at BPM’09.
  • Process Model comprehension: a human view (Tutorial)Hajo Reijers and Jan Mendling condensed their know-how in a 1.5h presentation (called tutorial) that was attracting even more people than the main conference track (in parallel). Increadibly valuable and well covered by Sandy. In short, read the Seven Process Modeling Guidelines (Table 2, page 19).

Summing up, BPM was a great event to learn, meet, discuss and find ground for collaboration. For example, we learned how people use our Oryx Editor in their research projects and how they would like to use it in future work. We are committed to support that. If you’d like to use, embedd or extend Oryx in your research project. Let us know, join the Google Group. You are invited to ask questions. Don’t wait until the next BPM.