Friday, February 27, 2009

[Arch] Cherish your Architecture

Since a few month I am following the world of architecture tools much more and there are interesting things on the way:
  • hello2morrow has changed the evaluation mode for one of it's product: SonarJ (Community Edition) is now free for trial if you have less then 500 classes. I strongly recommend to use a tool like this at least for every new project start. Quality metrics and architecture definitions are now just a few clicks away and do really suppress 'the big ball of mud' every software engineer knows.
  • Another nice product in the field of software quality measurement is sonar from codehaus. It really produces wonderful quality views for projects and I highly recommend to try it out. What disappointed me a little was that Java projects should be Maven alike and the two minute tutorial will not cause you to set sonar up in two minutes (installing, loading and producing metrics in SonarJ is much faster). But nevertheless the output is full of innovative ideas.
It was also interesting to learn that sonar has ideas to integrate something like the architecture rule checking framework macker. You can try this out for yourself and integrate it now into your Ant buildfile if you have a vision about your architecture. Do you have?

Here is an example of an architecture definition given on their website (think of everything being enclosed with XML brackets):

..ruleset name="Simple example"
........from class="**Print*" class="java.**"

Do you have an idea of the intention?

Obviously a helpful feature but keep in mind that other tools (like the ones from hello2morrow) allow this definition much faster because you simply draw your architecture.

So check everything out and be aware of your architecture!

Monday, February 09, 2009

[Misc] Managing Commercial Software Projects

At IT-Conversations there is a recent interview with Jon Udell talking to Andy Singleton about "Managing Commercial Software Projects". This interview is highly recommended. Actually I figured that Singleton is following pretty much on the same track as I am. However he is making some bold statements; in projects he is using no phone-conferences ("the more phone conferences in a project the more problems the project is in") or VoIP/Video, no time-estimations are done when not explicitly demanded and he is following Open Source practices of distributed development using mostly asynchronous tool-chains.

He is apparently providing a set of development tools "best-practices" at One of the core concepts there is to assemble people around event-streams (of activities). I think, probably the main idea that I totally subscribe too is this: It is actually much more important to have awareness what others are doing than investing a lot of time into planning efforts.

However, listen to to the full interview, recommended!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

[Misc] It becomes quiet around BPEL?

BPEL stands for Business Process Execution Language and will be used to execute business processes. But there are other standards which can also be used to execute your business process. What about XPDL - XML Process Definition Language? Nevertheless, many BPM vendors adopt their workflow engine to BPEL in order to survive on the BPM market. It's a mistake. Most of the products provide a BPEL engine as an additional modul, because most of the BPM/Workflow Engine products work successfully without using BPEL. At the same time as BPEL was pushed, the BPMN - Business Process Modeling Notation - was hot discussed, a notation to model business processes. When you look on the BPMN homepage you will find a BPMN to BPEL transformer, describing the mapping of BPMN elements to suitable BPEL elements.

I find an article with the topic "BPEL: Who needs it anayway?" written by Keith Swenson, discussing the usage of BPEL in the industry.
"There are a few vendors who promote BPEL as as the one-and-only-true-way to support BPM. In fact, it is good for some things, but fairly bad at a large number of other things. It is my experience that BPEL is promoted primarily by vendors who specialize in products we might rightly call “Enterprise Application Integration” (EAI). These companies have recently taking to calling their products “Business Process Management”. Potential users should be asking the question “Is BPEL appropriate for what I want to do.” In that aim, there should be a large number of articles discussing what BPEL is good for, and what it is not, but there are very few articles of this nature."
He also mentioned that BPEL supporter make the following assumptions:
  • The people making the processes are programmers
  • The activities in a process only need to send, receive or transform XML data
  • Any standard will be better than no standard
What about the human integration in BPEL? The human integration is not supported in the standard, yet. You can use the WS-BPEL Extension for People, where each vendor implement this on his own way.

In the article he illustrates how to execute a BPMN diagramm directly using XPDL. The diagram is interpreted directly without converseion to another model.

To summarize, I see there are a lot of successfull SOA projects which do not use BPEL. It goes also without BPEL. However, there are scenarios where BPEL is very useful and makes sense, but I will mention, that BPEL is not the "All-Solution" standard. I am strained on the future of BPEL.