about processes and engines

Archive for the ‘bpmn’ Category

fluo as process editor

I took the time to enhance the fluo javascript library used in ruote-web, a demo Ruby on Rails application wrapping OpenWFEru ruote.

The previous version of fluo (as currently used in the online demo of ruote-web) was abusing the browser layout abilities (css float). This new version relies on a unique canvas. It looks nicer (at least for me) and it is not vulnerable to browser layout quirks (people integrating fluo were complaining about it and also about css collisions).

Fluo itself was only meant for rendering graphically ruote process definitions in a browser. My development bench for it slowly turned into some kind of “browser based process editor”. It’s minimalistic for now, but you can already have a look at it.

There is a unique ‘screen’ with a left pane showing the process definition itself and a right pane showing it renderer graphically via fluo. You can edit the process definition, in the browser.

Next things I’ll add : “paste”, better “save as” capability, loading of remote process definitions (URIs), link to documentation, expressions and attributes ‘suggestions’, …

Ruote-fluo source is at
Ruote-fluo online demo is at

Note : this new fluo is Firefox 3 only, as it uses the text drawing capabilities of this fine browser (the previous fluo was using a float div on top of the canvases to add text).

Written by John Mettraux

July 13, 2008 at 1:52 pm

work in progress

fluo.pngBeen working on many things lately, haven’t blogged much.

A sample of my work in the image here on the left.

Enhancing Densha‘s auto rendering of process definitions.

I’m hoping to release OpenWFEru 0.9.17 very soon.

Been working on Rufus as well. Many small gems extracted out of OpenWFEru.

Written by John Mettraux

February 8, 2008 at 2:22 pm

Posted in bpm, bpmn, openwferu, workflow

the “trouble ticket” process

If you’re interested in workflow and BPM, you have to follow Keith Swenson‘s blog.

Keith Swenson is at the head of Fujitsu Software BPM and workflow effort, he is also a member of the workflow management coalition, there are many things to learn from his work.

During this year switch period he produced three great posts about human processes. I will focus on one of them which is about a practical “trouble ticket” process.

Keith represented the process in a very readable BPMN diagram, he then discussed variants on it and why he was using “multiple conclusions” for the activities in the diagram, ie multiple exit arrows instead of one exit arrow followed by a branching diamond.

That got me wondering how I could ‘implement’ this process without using [apparent] branching constructs in the Ruote process definition language. How could I preserve some of the readability and elegance of the original diagram ?

OpenWFEru is block structured, not your usual state/transition workflow tool, but it can express that. I came up with an implementation. I chose to express it as Ruby code (instead of XML), it should be readable enough.

Yes, it’s an exercise in manually compiling from BPMN to the OpenWFEru process definition language (it could yield lessons for [automated] compilers).

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by John Mettraux

January 4, 2008 at 5:14 am

Posted in bpm, bpmn, openwferu, ruby, workflow


Keith Swenson just wrote a great post entitled : “Human ‘Facilitator’ Processes”.

In one of his previous posts, Keith had introduced the concept of Automators and Facilitators.

we know that there are at least two distinct “camps” in the BPM field: those that want to support human work (”Facilitators”), and those that want to automate work that was previously done by humans (”Automators”).

The first comment to the “Human ‘Facilitator’ Processes” post goes :

the facilitator diagram represents the swan swimming gracefully on the lake, the automator diagram represent the swan’s not so graceful legs thrashing under water. You can’t have one without the other.

IMHO, you can get on without the automator diagram. Things like “convention over configuration” do help.

Being rather an “Abstractor” (more a Software Engineer than a Process Analyst), I tend towards the “Facilitator” view. Business processes should look concise.

The “Automator” diagrams feel like they contain the business process plus “Protocol” : ‘upon receiving an email, do that, check this, …’, does this belong to the business process ? Is it conventional ? Just plain Protocol that should not appear in the business process ? I think so and I will try hard to produce tools that fit this view.

Written by John Mettraux

September 29, 2007 at 4:04 am

Posted in bpm, bpmn, openwferu, rails, workflow

On the GeoBPMS front

Pat and Linda are presenting their GeoBPMS to the Open Geospatial Consortium.

They’ve been working on Matelot, an upcoming open source Flex/Rails BPMN designer :

All Open Source and Standards-based: it will feature the OpenWFEru workflow engine, Rools, a ruby rules engine, XForms and Matelot, an upcoming FLEX-based workflow navigator.

It seems their designer will store process definitions as XPDL 2.0, Pat is having all the fun and the challenges while implementing a translator from XPDL to OpenWFEru.
(I should blog one day my opinion about BPMN… It’s good to have a notation anyway).

I wish I could have attended to this presentation. Interesting developments ahead. Congrats to Linda and Pat !

Written by John Mettraux

July 30, 2007 at 9:39 am