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At Gartner Summit: When BPEL meets Java

Many of Gartner's predictions of Web services are pretty far out in time, some relating to technology we may not see until 2014. But one trend, the mapping of Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) to programming languages, most notably Java, is happening now.

"Expect BPEL mappings to specific language to happen rapidly throughout 2004 and 2005," Daryl Plummer, sector general manager at Gartner, told attendees at Gartner's Application Integration and Web Services Summit this past week.

This is important because it helps to get Web services standards down to the code level, Plummer said in a session on Service-Oriented Development of Applications (SODA), which Gartner predicts will become the best practice for Web development by 2009.

BPEL, first developed by Microsoft and IBM, is currently being revised by OASIS. The specs describe the processes in a Web services transaction, including actions to be taken, timing and exceptions, Plummer explained. But it operates at the level above the code where things such as calculations are performed.

If BPEL and the programming language are combined, in Plummer's view, it will provide Web services application developers with "a process-centric architecture."

He pointed to BEA's BPELJ as an example where WebLogic Workshop would allow "snippets of Java code to be added to BPEL process definitions. Combining the two makes designing for integration more feasible," Plummer told his audience at the conference in Los Angeles, "since communication between designer and coders is more seamless."

While this might be music to the ears of Java developers, Plummer had some cautionary notes about BPEL, which as is true with most Web services standards, is still a work in progress. W3C, the XML standards body that is a rival to OASIS, has an overlapping standard, Web Services Choreography (WS-Chor), which needs to be reconciled to BPEL in Gartner's view. The Gartner analyst expressed hope that W3C will defer to OASIS in the Web services choreography area.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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