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#45050 by bkonia
Tue Oct 03, 2017 4:09 pm
I've come to realize that Aware IM processes can be directly modeled using BPMN (Business Process Modeling and Notation). For those not familiar with BPMN, it's like a flow chart, but with a formalized structure and containing objects specific to business processes, such as Tasks, Gateways, Subprocesses and Events. By creating a BPMN diagram, you can visually model any business process. The diagram can then be exported to XML and executed by any BPMN-compliant server engine. The executed application would perform similarly to an Aware IM application. It could display forms, gather input from users, then process the data in some way, send notifications, etc... There are many companies offering client-side design tools and server-side execution for BPMN, including Bizagi, Camunda, BonitaBPM and bpm'online, to name a few.

Aware IM is more powerful and flexible than any of the BPMN tools I've encountered but it lacks the ability to work with BPMN directly. We create our processes using the rules language, which provides ultimate flexibility, but is less structured, less efficient and more error-prone than creating processes using a BPMN diagram. With a BPMN diagram, all the stakeholders can view the process flow and processes can be remapped by simply drawing lines connecting objects and moving objects around, rather than manually typing out rules. The fact that everyone can view and understand the process flow makes it easier to get everyone on the same page, so to speak. With Aware IM, the developer has to act as an interpreter, translating the perceived needs of the client (perhaps in the form of a BPMN diagram) into the process rules. If something isn't quite right, the client may not notice until after the system is in production.

For these reasons, I'm proposing that Aware IM be enhanced with the capability to interpret BPMN 2.0 XML and either translate it into process rules or execute it directly, as an alternative to the existing process rules. In that scenario, for a particular application, the developer could choose whether to use process rules or BPMN or both. Since BPMN is the global standard for business process modeling, making AIM BPMN-compliant would greatly increase its value and make it feasible to acquire large clients who may be using other BPMN tools or may have a mandate to use BPMN-compliant tools. It would also make it much easier for us as developers to communicate with clients and accelerate the development process. There are numerous diagramming tools that can export BPMN XML. The idea would be to use your diagramming tool of choice to create the BPMN diagram, then import the generated XML file into Aware IM for execution, turning Aware IM into a BPMN execution engine. It already has 90% of the capability; it just needs the ability to work with BPMN XML directly.

Note that this entire discussion only pertains to process rules, not business rules.
#45055 by JonP
Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:19 am
Beautifully-written, Brad!

As a corollary, I would suggest a more ontological approach to modelling data structure and business rules. New ontological tools are coming online that Aware could be made compatible with. I wrote this post in August discussing how ontologies will become an essential tool for business analysts in designing software/solutions.

https://plantain.io/2017/08/09/the-bas- ... ulti-tool/

With a more ontologically-oriented approach for data structure and business rules (and it's probably 90% of the way there now), combined with BPMN integration for processes, Aware IM would dominate software development.
#45128 by BenHayat
Sun Oct 08, 2017 1:20 pm
I wish Awaresoft had more resources to expand AwareIM to these directions that you folks brought up. AwareIM at it's core, is a very powerful product but lacks "reach" and extensibility in an open and easy way.

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