about processes and engines

Lukas’ OpenWFE IDE

Lukas Eder, for his master thesis in Computer Science at the EPFL, is implementing an OpenWFE IDE, on the Eclipse RCP platform.

The requirements for the project weren’t specifying web or rich client, Lukas had to choose. He decided, having had previous experiences with Eclipse and its RCP system, to go the rich client way.
I must say I favoured a web based IDE for it’s so easy to deploy. But well, development should be fun, Lukas prefers it this way, let’s not restrain his creativity.

Basically, the IDE will allow to design/modify process definitions and edit the participant maps (and especially insert webservice participants within them).

I have to say that I’m pretty amazed at what he built so far.

OpenWFE IDE (1)These are two screenshots of the current status of his IDE.

There was already an Eclipse IDE implemented by Christelle and Helena (two other EPFL students), Lukas had to base his work upon it, but after a few days of reflection and analysis he decided to do in another way and to get information directly from OpenWFE process definition XSD (

OpenWFE IDE (2)We agreed that I should put the descriptions of the expressions directly within the XSD : structure and description placed outside of the IDE, what a nice trick ! The IDE will thus be always up to date , in synch with the latest development in the process definition language.

Of course, I’ve got to fill all the descriptions, but I’m quite happy to do that job (producing content for the IDE).

Another great thing about Lukas’ IDE is its bidirectional sync between the graphical representation of the flow and the process definition (XML) itself. You may say it’s not that hard, but Lukas managed to have a UI where you can select a piece of a process definition and the select occurs in both view (and in the outline as well).

We’re still discussing on how to map workitems (participants) to webservices, my intention for now, is to upgrade the current (simple and robust) WsInvoker to Xfire (1.1) (currently, it’s based on Axis). Lukas’ idea is to map directly within the webservice XML envelope. No firm decision has been taken yet.
Lukas already wrote a nice wizard for choosing webservices from UDDI servers.

Michael and I wanted this IDE to have simulation capabilities, well that’ll maybe be for the next iteration of that project. It’s not that hard to embed an engine within the IDE to simulate flows.

I asked Lukas to directly upload his source within OpenWFE’s subversion repository on In this way, it might be easier to find someone to maintain that code afterwards (if Lukas is not interested anymore).

Wrote enough for tonight.

Written by John Mettraux

May 16, 2006 at 9:11 pm

Posted in bpms, openwfe, oss, workflow

One Response

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  1. Although I don’t understand the theme of his Master thesis, I am very proud of Lukas, because I know he is doing a very well job.

    Wishing a great success, I remain with best personal regards,

    Leonz Eder

    May 19, 2006 at 7:17 am

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