Posts Tagged: bpmn

Cool new features in Activiti Designer

Tijs Rademakers (already 2 months full-time Activiti team member now … time sure flies!) posted on his blog an overview of some new features in the latest Activiti Eclipse Designer release. All features are demonstrated with a short movie, so it’s all very digestable :-).

I’m a huuuuuge fan of the quick edit feaure! This is really a productivity booster.

Adhoc workflow with Activiti: introducing Activiti KickStart

(for those with a limited attention span: there is a screencast at the bottom!)

2010 was awesome. We had the launch and explosive growth of Activiti in ways that none of us were able to forecast when we started the Activiti-adventure. 2011 will continue to amaze, no single doubt about that. To kick of this 2011-amazement-rollercoaster-ride, I’m very proud to introduce the latest addition to the Activiti platform: Activiti KickStart.

What’s this all about?

KickStart grew out of the idea that each and every company has processes that are done in an adhoc way. These are processes that are ‘discovered’ on the fly: some people want to collaborate or a certain document needs to be handled in a specific order by different departements. A BPM platform such as Activiti is a well-suited solution to achieve this, but the threshold and cost to actually model, deploy and execute these kind of processes in the traditional sense is way too high.

Activiti KickStart gives you a simple and intuitive UI that allows you to create such processes in a matter of minutes. No need to model anything, no need to actually know or understand BPMN, no need to do any coding, … KickStart really and seriously lowers the threshold to automate your workflow processes.

The processes created with KickStart are directly deployable to the Activiti repository. They are also immediately usable in Activiti Explorer, and they are fully BPMN 2.0 compliant, which means they can be edited in any modeling tool that understands the BPMN 2.0 file format. And best of all, the workflows can be edited at any time, truly honoring the adhoc nature of these processes.

Activiti KickStart in action: defining an expense process in a matter of a few clicks

What can I do with it?

  • Adhoc workflow: often, coordination is required between different people or groups in a company. You know how it normally goes: sending an email here, doing a telephone there … which often ends up in a mess of nobody knowing what or when something needs to be done. However, a business process management platform such as Activiti is an excellent way of distributing and follow-up everything, as it is intended to track exactly such things. KickStart allows you to create processes for adhoc work in a matter of minutes, and distribute and coordinate tasks between people easily.
  • Prototyping/Proof-of-concept: before diving into complex BPMN 2.0 modeling and thinking about all complex aspects of , it is often wise to get all people involved aligned and work out a prototype that shows the vision of what needs to be done. KickStart allows to do exatcly that: create a business process prototype on the fly, to get your ideas visible for everyone.
  • Simple processes: some processes are just simple by nature, and every company has them. Think about an expense process, a holiday leave process, a hiring process, etc… These kind of processes are probably already being done using paper or e-mail. KickStart allows to model these processes quickly and change them whenever it is needed. As such, KickStart really lowers the threshold to automate these business processes.

Obviously, you are not limited to these use cases. As history proves, people always tend to use and enhance these things in ways we can’t image today :-).

When can I use it?

Activiti KickStart is available today! It is part of the freshly released 5.1 release, and installed by default if you run the Activiti demo setup. Just visit activiti.org and download the latest release, we’re open source after all :-).

Note that KickStart is by no means ‘finished’ (which software product ever is). But in the Activiti and open source way of doing things, we want to show you as early as possible what we’re cooking. Using the feedback, ideas and contributions of you and the rest of the Activiti community, KickStart will grow and mature in a way no commercial vendor can keep up with us.

Screencast

A picture is worth a 1000th words, so a movie will definitely be able to show you the power and ease of Activiti KickStart.

BPMN 2.0 process modeling on the iPad

In the past years, I’ve seen my fair share of meetings where were we needed to draw business processes … ad-hoc or working on existing models. Poster-sized paper, whiteboards, beer coasters, … I’ve used it all. I can tell quite some hilarious stories about those meetings … but that’s probably content for another post. Main thing is: in 2010, this is just not the way anymore the game is played.

The Activiti BPM suite ships out-of-the-box with a cool webbased modeling tool, which allows anybody to collaborate from anywhere on their business processes. This modeling tool is donated to  Activiti by our friends at Signavio.

And today, they’ve pushed out iPad support for their process modeling tool. This is just way too cool if you think about it. Discuss, model and collaborate on processes from basically everywhere you are – with decent graphics and all stored on the server. Gone are the ‘quirks’ attached to using ancient ‘technologies’ such as losing the paper, wet beer coaster, unreadable scribbling, etc.

Check it out in this video from the Signavio team itself.

And now I *really* want an iPad….

Screencast: Getting Started with Activiti 5.0.alpha2

Activiti 5.0.alpha2 just has been released!

Key feature of this release is the taskform functionality, many thanks to Erik Winlof for implementing them! Nothing could give it more credit than a screencast.

In this screencast, you”ll be able to enjoy:

  • Setting up the Activiti environment using the demo setup script. As you’ll see, only 27 seconds are needed. That’s about the time it takes to pour a cup of coffee (if you’re fast).
  • The Activiti Probe, REST, Modeler and Explorer webapps.
  • The new taskform functionality. In the screencast, the vacation request BPMN 2.0 example is used. Check out our userguide to learn everything about taskforms and the example process.

Don’t forget to put on your speakers and to check the movie out in fullscreen!

The curtains are pulled: Alfresco launches Activiti

 

After some weeks of silence, we can now finally pull the curtains … and reveal Activiti to the world!

Activiti is a super-fast and rock-solid BPM and workflow engine that natively runs BPMN 2.0. It’s completely open-source (Apache licence) and embeddable in any Java environment.

Tom and I joined Alfresco about two months ago, and we’ve kept ourselves quite busy. Bundled with this announcement is the first alpha release of Activiti. Go and play with it while it’s hot!

Activiti is all about what made jBPM great, and taking giant leaps from there. Tom nicely summarizes it in his blogpost. A lot more information can be found on the Activiti website.

Official Alfresco press release: click here.

Regards,

Joram

Native BPMN 2.0 execution with the freshly released jBPM 4.3

Happy 2010 to all the folks who read this blog! I’m extremely pleased to start this  year with a bang by announcing that jBPM 4.3 has been released!

As we announced last month, the major achievement of this release is the native BPMN 2.0 execution on top of the PVM. See the announcement itself for more information, examples and a shiny movie.

The main goal of the first release of our BPMN 2.0 implementation was to implement the ‘basic’ part of the specification. Using the basic constructs, one should already get quite an impression how BPMN 2.0 can be used in practice with jBPM. We’re extremely proud that we’ve managed to include the BPMN 2.0 implementation as an integral part of the jBPM framework. This means that no database or API changes are required when you want to start using BPMN 2.0 with jBPM. Heck, enabling BPMN 2.0 in jBPM requires one single line of configuration. Just check the example of the previous BPMN 2.0 blogpost to see all this sweetness.

The complete distribution zip file can be found on http://sourceforge.net/projects/jbpm/files/

This distribution includes quite a few examples to get you started. The developers guide that is shipped with the distribution also contains a whole new chapter about how to implement BPMN 2.0 processes using jBPM 4.3. The content of the documentation is detailed and people with no prior BPMN 2.0 knowledge should be able to understand it without much problems. See the subdirectory /doc/devguide to find this guide. Or you can take a look online(link to my own version, online doc on docs.jboss.org isn’t yet updated due to past holiday season – but this can change any moment now).

To finish up, let me quote one of our prominent Community Users, Bernd Rücker:

“2010: the year of BPMN 2.0”

Of course, BPMN 2.0 isn’t the only thing we’ve been doing the last two months. Check our JIRA for a complete changelog. Most noteworthy new features are the ejb and jms invocation for JPDL – features that are easy to leverage for a future jBPM BPMN 2.0 release …

As always, thanks for reading!

Quick book review: ‘The Process – Business Process Modeling Using BPMN’

Due to the fact I was sick today, I was able to work a bit on my book backlog. So, when I was waiting in the doc’s office, I finally finished The Process – Business Process Modeling Using BPMN, written by researchers of the Business Process Technology Group of the university of Potsdam.

The book tells the story of Tom, who is hired by the fictional company LasterTec to provide insights into how LaserTec works. While on the job, he learns about process modeling and BPMN. The following chapters describe the journey of Tom into the BPMN landscape, and how he is able to document and find bottlenecks int the processes of LasterTec. If you want to know how the story ends, you should give the book a reading 😉

So, here are in short the pro’s and con’s of the book:

Pro

  • The book is entry-level. Since I already have some BPMN experience I was able to quickly go through the first chapters, but I found myself concentrated while reading the more complex stuff (specifically on of the latests chapters on compensating activitites and business transactions). However, if you are already experienced in the BPMN field, this book will teach you not much new.
  • The BPMN information is nicely integrated with the story of Tom. So you’re getting an actual story that, for me, is much nicer to read than your average tech book. The story also allows you to digest the information easier. The downside of this approach is that the book is not a reference. Luckily, the book contains a BPMN reference poster, which you can also download here.
  • Many of the processes that Tom encounters are really industry-worthy. For a few of the processes described I really got a déjà-vu feeling since the process incorporated stuff I had to implement in the past in a similar way. So no academic reasoning or constructs in this book! (which is surprising, given the authors).

Con

  • The book is pretty short (about 180 pages) and in the end, I had the feeling there could be more to it. However, purely seen as an introduction to BPMN, the book is perfect.
  • Like I said, the book is a perfect entry-level book, but if you want to do some real process modeling, you’ll definitely need to read up on some more advanced stuff and get some practical experience. However, you are well prepared for this journey with the bagage from the book.
  • I ordered the book through Amazon and had to pay an extra import tax (only Amazon US had the book in store at the time I ordered) of 10 euro. So since the book only counts 180 pages, every page costs about 20 eurocents. In my opinion, that’s a bit too much. I think the book is perfect for an e-book, so I rather would have bought it in that format.

Conclusion

I liked reading the book and I finished it with only one pause between the reads. Taking into account that in fact the book describes a specification, this definitely is a good sign. The information covered in the book is limited, but in the end you get all the basics of BPMN and are ready to take on simple business procesess. The book uses examples from the industry and comes with a handy reference poster. In my opinion, the target audience of the book are managers or developers/analysts who need an introduction to BPMN.

If the Potsdam researchers are publishing an (e-) book about BPMN 2.0 in the future (perhaps now Tom is already married and teaching BPMN to his children …) , I’ll definitely give it a read!