Intalio Donates Workflow Framework to Eclipse
- By John K. Waters
Intalio is donating its Tempo project to the Eclipse Foundation. Tempo is the first open-source workflow framework to support IBM and SAP's BPEL4People model. Available under the Eclipse Public License, the framework will become part of the foundation's SOA Tools Platform project.
Tempo is a set of runtime components that support the BPEL4People model, which defines human workflow functionality and architectures (called "constellation") in a BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) environment. BPEL for Web services is an XML-based language designed to enable task sharing for distributed computing or grid environments. It combines and replaces IBM's Web Services Flow Language (WSFL) and Microsoft's XLANG specification.
By contributing this business process management technology to Eclipse, Intalio is providing developers with a much-needed means of aligning IT and business, says Chief Executive Ismael Ghalimi.
"While BPEL is a very efficient process execution language, it does not provide any semantics for human workflow," Ghalimi said in a statement. "This need has been addressed by the BPEL4People paper..., and today's release of the Tempo project marks the first open source implementation of this emerging standard."
BPEL4People was defined in a whitepaper co-authored by IBM and SAP. In their introduction to the BPEL4People whitepaper, the companies explain why they thought BPEL needed a human touch: "The BPEL specification focuses on business processes, the activities of which are assumed to be interactions with Web services with no additional prerequisite behavior. But the spectrum of activities that make up general-purpose business processes is much broader. People often participate in the execution of business processes introducing new aspects, such as human interaction patterns. To support a broad range of scenarios that involve people within business processes, a BPEL extension is required."
"Real business processes include human tasks, but they were somehow left out of the BPEL specification," said Bruce Silver, who writes the blog, BPMS Watch. "IBM and SAP outlined a standard way for BPEL to embrace human workflow, called BPEL4People, but to my knowledge Tempo is the first implementation of that proposal. To make that part of an Open Source BPM framework is pretty amazing."
Tempo uses XForms to implement workflow components, but Intalio's implementation of the BPEL4People model is made without extensions of modifications to the standard BPEL 2.0 specification. Instead, ad-hoc task management services are deployed on top of the J2EE platform and are made available as Web services through WSDL interfaces, while using standard BPEL processes for advanced workflow patterns such as multi-channel notifications and alert escalations.
This is the third piece of core technology open sourced by Intalio. Earlier this year, the company donated its BPMN modeler to the Eclipse Foundation, and its BPEL engine to the Apache Software Foundation. All three components form the foundation for the company's BPMS, which it bills as the first BPM solution to support a Zero-Code development model. Intalio|BPMS is the only open source BPMS to natively support the BPMN, BPEL, and BPEL4People industry standards.
"Thanks to a truly open development process and a relentless quest toward technical excellence, the Eclipse Foundation has established its platform as the standard development tool for any IT shop today," Ghalimi said.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached