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OSWorkflow: A guide for Java developers and architects to integrating open-source Business Process Management Versión Kindle
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This book also shows how, with examples, how to integrate JBoss Rules (aka DROOLS), Quartz scheduling, and Esper complex event processing.
The only downside which I found was not with the book, but with the OSWorkflow distribution, the Hibernate support is old, v2.8.0. At first I was disappointed but with the help of this book, I just wrote my own Hibernate 3.x support in a matter of a few hours and I now know the package much more intimately as result. I went on to customize and *optimize* this for my project.
OSWorkflow is a great workflow engine, let's hope this book give the kick-start which it needs to be even better.
While it was considered lower level than other competing business process solutions, it actually got quite a bit of traction due to it's simplicity and the fact that instead of using big "businessy" terms that other offerings used to describe themselves, it never hid what it was: a core finite state machine engine designed to make it easy to manage the workflow of many entities (people, issues, documents, etc).
Since then, OSWorkflow has been a pretty good success: a GUI for creating workflows was built, the development team evolved beyond just me (in fact, I haven't been involved in the project directly for 5+ years), became the core of the super-popular JIRA issue tracker, and now it has it's own book.
As the original creator of OSWorkflow, I was given a copy of the book and read through it the other day. In addition to the tremendous pride at seeing the contents in print, I was actually surprised to learn many new things about OSWorkflow. The book covers topics such as complex branching, rules engine integration, Spring integration (Spring didn't exist back when I used OSWorkflow!), and even tie in to those complex business process solutions I never quite "got".
Overall, the book is an excellent guide to OSWorkflow and building workflow systems in Java in general.
The book is divided into eight chapters. Chapter 1, "BPM and Workflow Basics" introduces workflow engines, different types of business process management systems, traceability, and auditing. At the end of this chapter you will have a high level understanding of what Business Process Manaegement technology entails. In Chapter 2, "Introduction and Basics", you enter the Hello World scenario. For this kind of chapter, there is a lot of information here. It might have been better to have a very short "Hello World" chapter, with just the simplest scenario, because this covers quite a lot. Still, the chapter is very good in laying the basis for the rest of the book. You are shown where to get the OSWorkflow engine on-line, how to navigate a sample user interface, you begin to understand the basics of OSWorkflow, and then look at some important XML definitions and an example workflow, steps, actions, results, splits, and joins. Interestingly, you are shown how to send an e-mail automatically, by configuring an XML file. Then you are shown an alternative approach, not via XML, but using a visual designer. (This part could have been the first "Hello World" chapter, with the earlier XML tags being in a follow up chapter.)
Chapter 3 tells you about adding code to definitions created in the previous chapter. Because chapter 2 covered so much, chapter 3 already touches on advanced topics, such as transient data, function providers, registers, conditions, and BeanShell scripting. Tips such as those relating to Auto and Finish Actions are also outlined here. "Using OSWorkflow in your Application" is the title of chapter 4. Here OSWorkflow APIs are discussed, allowing you to embed OSWorkflow within an application. In addition, persistence, unit testing, Spring integration, and security are discussed in some detail. Chapter 5 tells you about integrating business rules with JBoss Rules. You are shown how the Rules engine works, as well as its connection with the Drools open-source engine. Usefully, it defines its terms as it goes along, even "What is JBoss Rules?" The integration with OSWorkflow rules is well described and the examples given are relevant.
The next chapters dig deeper into the integration between OSWorkflow and other software. For example, in chapter 6 you are taught about "Scheduling with Quartz". Quartz, a time scheduler, can integrate with OSWorkflow, so that you can sendin events and actions. The location and installation of Quartz is mentioned and briefly introduced, prior to an interesting chapter culminating in a customer support scenario, as well as a claims processing scenario. Both are pretty complex, well described, and really bring the concepts discussed into focus. Further advanced topics are discussed in chapter 7, in particular, Event Stream Processing and Complex Event Processing. The Esper CEP engine is tackled in detail throughout the chapter, and then coupled with the OSWorkflow engine. Examples are given, again, including an interesting one involving event-based mail alerts via patterns and listeners, also using the EQL (Esper Query Language), which is an interesting diversion in this chapter. Finally, chapter 8 outlines how to integrate with Dashboards provided by Pentaho. The Pentaho charting capabilities are discussed and then applied to the OSWorkflow instance database for creating a dashboard relevant to OSWorkflow monitoring and analysis.
In general, the book delivers what it promises. It provides a lot of explanations and diagrams and actual code snippets. It starts from the beginning, referring to on-line resources and continues from there, step by step, with a lot of real life scenarios. However, it would have been good to have seen how OSWorkflow compares with alternatives. Similarly, it is not clear why Quartz and Pentaho, for example, were chosen as endpoints for integration, rather than one of their competitors. The book is clear and well written with many examples. Despite the complexity of the subject and the broad range of topics covered, it was an enjoyable read.
There are many intresting topics that you can left behind in an enterprise application that use a workflow, an example is event management, and in this book you can found how to make it with OSWorkflow and Esper, and other main topic in this kind of applications is Business Rules, and there is a good coverage of this using JBoss Rules
Integration with Spring, JUnit, Hibernate are other topics that are very important when you use OSWorkflow also are covered in the book.
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