Frank's Blog

New Book Chapter on Pi-Calculus and BPM 

Finally, one of my last scientific works on BPM and the pi-calculus has been published as a book chapter in Process Algebra for Parallel and Distributed Processing, edited by Michael Alexander and William Gardner.

The chapter itself is called Business Process Specification and Analysis. In contrast to prior work, it is written at a more sophisticated formal level (at least from my point of view), thanks to my co-author Uwe Nestmann. Indeed, I wished my doctoral thesis would be this formal.

Technically, we investigated the asynchronous pi-calculus (new work here) and also introduced a formal or-join execution semantics for the pi-calculus (more new work, but not completely formalized). The main focus, however, was the introduction and discussion of Trios, a concept that refined the functional abstraction (definition 5.2 of my thesis).

Concluding, I can recommend the paper to anyone (still) interested in using the pi-calculus in the area of BPM (what else should I say as an author :-). Unfortunately, I have no permission to provide a PDF file for download, so you have to either find a library or make a rather huge investment to get the chapter.

But what I can offer for free is a prototypical tool that was developed during the writing of the chapter. While it's command line based (written in Ruby), it has a graphical representation of the business process currently executed. And yes, you need the same Mac tool (called OmniGraffle) as for the Lazy Soundness Toolchain to create your own BPDs that can be imported. But don't worry, I provide a lot of ready to use examples to showcase the execution and analysis of business processes in the asynchronous pi-calculus. The homepage of the tool, called pishell, can be found here. Have fun!

I would also like to place a last comment (and thanks) to the editors and publishers of the book. In contrast to Springer (where you have to do all by yourself), the chapter was proof-read by experts and the grammar and spelling have been professionally checked.

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Commercial: OOP 2009 presentation 

I'm giving my first public presentation this year at the OOP 2009 conference taking place next week in Munich. In contrast to the last years scientific talks, this will be my first industry (say commercial) talk.

So, if you're around, I happily invite you to learn about the inubit way of practicing holistic business process management. I will guide you through the 45 minutes with a show case based on an HR process. Besides slides, I will also give a life demonstration.

Date: Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 13:00 - 13:45
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Happy new Year! 

Today I just wish you all a happy new year! May all of your dreams, wishes, and hopes come true.

And yes, I promise again, that the things I promised in some of the last blog entries might be come true next year.
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BPMN and the Event-based Gateway 

Today I would like to tell you something about BPMN's Event-based Gateway. If you don't remember it by now, maybe you do by taking a closer look:

The shape of the Event-based gateway changed from BPMN 1.0 to BPMN 1.1. Both types of Gateways (Event-based or Exclusive) make a decision, i.e. only one of the outgoing Sequence Flows is taken. Only one of the Gateways, however, is used for joining Sequence Flows. That one is the Exclusive Gateway (please keep this in mind when modeling).

But what are the differences between the two types of Gateways, which make a decision leading to the activation of exactly one of the outgoing Sequence Flows? Here are the golden rules:

1. An Exclusive Gateway is always used when the decision is internally (up to you, based on locally available information).
2. An Event-based Gateway must be used when the decision is externally (up to others, based on distributed events).

Consider for instance a simple business process of getting in touch with a friend:

You could either choose to write a letter or make a phone call. The decision on how to get in touch is made in the Exclusive Gateway numbered with (1). Please note, that the decision on how to get in touch is completely up to you. The Sequence Flows are joined with Exclusive Gateway numbered with (2).

The corresponding business process of your friend, however, can not anticipate how you will get in touch with him. He needs to support both cases, where the decision is triggered externally:

The decision is made in the Event-based Gateway (3), based on the directly following Event that is triggered first. The flows are joined, once again, by an Exclusive Gateway, in (4).

The difference becomes immediately visible when the two business processes are brought together to form a choreography:

It can be clearly seen that the decision is made in the upper Pool, whereas the lower Pool can only react to that decision.

Now, hopefully, I will never see a BPD with a wrong use of the Event-based Gateway anymore (and I've seen way too much).
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BizAgi Process Modeler with Frapu Stencils 

The BizAgi Process Modeler now sports an import option for Visio files using the BPMN 1.0 stencils that I offer here.

Thanks to Matthias Weidlich for pointing me to this feature of BizAgi Process Modeler.
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