Issue No: 31
Modeling Notation (BPMN)
Jan 17, 2006: This issue of TEN continues
from TEN27, which covered the concepts of Business Process
Management (BPM) languages for SOA, such as Business Process
Execution Language (BPEL), Business Process Modeling Language (BPML)
and Business Process Specification Schema (BPSS) - and the various
BPM products and vendors which I covered in TEN29. These
issues were based on extracts from Chapter 14 of my forthcoming
"Enterprise Architecture for Integration: Rapid Delivery Methods and
Technologies", Artech House, Norwood, MA (March 2006).
This current issue of TEN is a further
extract from Chapter 14 of the book.
Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN), which has emerged as a
standard approach for business process diagramming to bridge from
process models defined by modeling tools for automatic generation of
executable XML-based code in BPEL, BPML or BPSS.
Publisher, The Enterprise Newsletter (TEN)
series of 3-day workshops, titled: "Quick WIns Enterprise
Architecture Workshop" will be presented in Australia in April - May by
Clive Finkelstein. These are scheduled in Sydney (April 19 - 21)
and Melbourne (May 2 - 4).
Clive Finkelstein will also be
presenting his highly successful 2-day seminar irst presented in
2005 in Australia and NZ also in Canada on March 27 - 28 in Victoria
BC and March 30 - 31 in Edmonton AB, titled: "Rapid Enterprise Architecture
He will be presenting a 3-day
workshop in London on April 3 - 5, 2006 titled: "Rapid
Delivery of Enterprise Architecture for Business Integration"
and a 2-day seminar on April 6-7 titled : "Rapid
Delivery Technologies for Enterprise Integration"
Back to Contents
Modeling Notation (BPMN)
Modeling Notation (BPMN)
In previous issues of TEN, we have covered BPEL, WSCI, BPML and
BPSS as the four major BPM languages used today for the automatic
generation of executable XML code from workflow diagrams. This issue
discusses BPMN as an evolving standard for specification of process
logic for all of these BPM languages. We will also briefly review
some of the software products that support these languages.
Read full Content of
Business Process Modeling Notation
(BPMN) is emerging as a way to specify business process models
and diagrams for any BPM language. As the following extract from the
“Business people are very comfortable with visualizing business
processes in a flow-chart format. There are thousands of
business analysts studying the way companies work and defining
business processes with simple flow charts. This creates a
technical gap between the format of the initial design of
business processes and the format of the languages, such as
BPEL4WS, that will execute these business processes. This gap
needs to be bridged with a formal mechanism that maps the
appropriate visualization of the business processes (a notation)
to the appropriate execution format (a BPM execution language)
for these business processes.
Inter-operation of business processes at the human level, rather
than the software engine level, can be solved with
standardization of the Business Process Modeling Notation
(BPMN). BPMN provides a Business Process Diagram (BPD), which is
a Diagram designed for use by the people who design and manage
business processes. BPMN also provides a formal mapping to an
execution language of BPM Systems (BPEL4WS). Thus, BPMN would
provide a standard visualization mechanism for business
processes defined in an execution optimized business process
Private Processes, Abstract Processes and Collaboration Processes.
Private Processes are those
that are internal to an organization. These are processes that have
been generally called workflow or BPM processes. A single private
process will map to a single BPEL XML document. Abstract
Processes represent the interactions between a private process
and another process or participant. Only those activities that are
used to communicate outside the private business process are
included in the abstract process. All other “internal” activities of
the private process are not shown in the abstract process. Thus, the
abstract process shows to the outside world the sequence of messages
that are required to interact with that business process. A single
abstract process may be mapped to a single BPEL abstract process.
Collaboration Processes depict
the interactions between two or more business entities. These are
defined as a sequence of activities that represent the message
exchange patterns between the entities involved. A single
collaboration process may be mapped to various collaboration
languages, such as ebXML BPSS, RosettaNet, or WSCI.
1: A Process from Different Points of View using BPMN
An example from the BPMN
Specifications is shown in Figure 1. this illustrates the message
interactions between a patient and a doctor in establishing an
appointment to see the doctor, who diagnoses the illness and
prescribes medicine, with interactions to collect the medicine.
BPMN specifies standard diagrammatic
notations or icons that can be used in process models to define a
business process in a BPMN Business Process Diagram (BPD). An
example illustrating part of the process diagram is shown in Figure
2 for a Travel Agent example expressed as a BPMN BPD.
2: Part of a Travel Agent Example, shown as a BPMN BPD
The BPMN Specifications illustrate,
using many examples, generation of XML executable BPEL code from
typical process models in BPMN. It describes, in detail, the mapping
of BPMN diagrams to generated BPEL XML code.
A complete BPMN example of an e-Mail
Voting process model is documented as Figure 92 (on p127) of the
BPMN Specifications, with generated BPEL code from this BPMN process
included as Appendix A of that document.
The Role of
Aided Software Engineering (CASE) tools first appeared in the early
1980s. (This term is not used today; instead they are referred to as
Modeling Tools.) These tools were based on the premise that computer
technologies could assist systems analysts and Data Base
Administrators (DBAs) in their analysis and design efforts … in much
the same way that Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools provided design
assistance to architects and product designers. Computer Aided
Manufacturing (CAM) tools further offer help by translating product
designs to robotic commands, so that products can be manufactured
using automated factory robots. These CAD tools are widely used
today in building architecture and the automated robot-controlled
manufacture of automobiles.
felt that modeling tools could be used to translate data base
designs – developed by DBAs – into the Data Definition Language (DDL)
required to implement and install those data base designs using
Relational Data Base Management System (RDBMS) products. Many data
modeling notations existed in the 1980s; most are still widely used
today. Some of these include Entity/Relationship (E/R) modeling,[ii]
and modeling notations associated with specific RDBMS products, such
as Oracle Designer. These different data modeling approaches were
based on the relational theory and normalization principles defined
by Edgar Codd
and documented by Chris Date.[vii]
of the logical data modeling and physical data base design methods
used in the 1980s enabled this automatic DDL generation objective to
be realized exceptionally well. Today it is standard practice for
DDL code to be generated automatically by modeling tools from
logical data models and physical data base designs. In fact, it is
now unusual to see anyone manually coding SQL Create Table and
Create Index statements.
1980s, it was also felt that the application designs developed by
systems analysts could be translated automatically into executable
program code. This task was much more difficult. These application
designs were expressed diagrammatically as logic using Software
In the 1990s, UML[ix]
diagrams supplanted Software Engineering and became widely used to
document application designs and logic. UML diagrams were also
perceived as a way to generate executable program code
were some successes in automatic generation of executable program
code from diagrams: one of the most notable was the Information
Engineering Facility (IEF) in the late 1980s and 1990s.[x]
Because of its initial complexity, this approach to automatic code
generation was largely considered to be a failure by many. As a
result, code generation – hyped by CASE tools in the 1980s and 1990s
– eventually lead to “CASE” becoming a derogatory term. It was
largely this market perception that saw the more successful of these
tools launch themselves as “Modeling Tools”. They wanted to distance
themselves from the bad name that the other CASE tools had gained.
software industry is now moving strongly into the 21st
Century. Today, modeling tools are seeing a renaissance in market
interest. There is a resurgence in the innovation and application of
technologies to automate software design, development and automatic
code generation. The next issue of TEN will discuss some of the
major modeling tool vendors and the product capabilities that are
Products and Directions
next issue of TEN, we will discuss the product capabilities of some
modeling tools that support BPMN, and the strategies used by their
vendors. I will not attempt to cover all products in the market. I
will only address specific products that, by their innovation, will
enable you to see the technology trends that are developing.
E-R modeling is based largely on the principles established
by Peter Chen, in his paper: “The Entity Relationship
Model: Toward a unified view of data”, ACM Trans. on
Database Systems, 9-36 (1976).
Thomas Bruce, “Designing Quality Databases with IDEF1X
Information Models”, Dorset House, New York: NY (1991).
The business-driven Information Engineering (IE) methods
were first developed from 1976 – 1980 by Clive Finkelstein
and popularized throughout the 1980s by James Martin. These
business-driven IE methods have since evolved into the
methods that are used today for the rapid delivery of
Enterprise Architecture as discussed in the book by Clive
Finkelstein: "Enterprise Architecture for Integration:
Rapid Delivery Methods and Technologies", Artech House,
Norwood, MA (March 2006).
Edgar Codd, “A Relational Model for Large Shared Data
Banks”, CACM, 13 (6) 377-87 (1970).
Edgar Codd, “Extending the Database Relational Model to
Capture more Meaning”, ACM Trans. on Database Systems,
$(4), 397-434 (1979).
Chris Date, “Introduction to Data Base”, Volumes 1
and 2, Addison-Wesley, Reading: MA (1982) and later
See the books referenced in Chapter 5 by
Michael Jackson, Ken Orr, Ed Yourdon and Tom de Marco.
See the books referenced in Chapter 5 by Grady Booch, Ivar
Jacobson and James Rumbaugh.
IEF (Information Engineering Facility) was developed by
Texas Instruments and was quite successful. But before code
could be generated, a great deal of definition was first
needed to capture the detailed logic that was not expressed
in diagrams. Once this initial definition had been
completed, program code could be automatically generated
from diagrams. And when the logic in these diagrams needed
to be changed, the new program code could also be
automatically regenerated. This product was purchased by
Sterling and was renamed Coolgen. It was later purchased by
CA and renamed AllFusion.