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Business Process Framework

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000013612D
Original Publication Date: 2000-Jan-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-18
Document File: 4 page(s) / 77K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Disclosed is a framework for creating extensible, customizable software products. It uses a high-level, declarative language to describe the processing steps for performing business processes. New software products face the problems of how to permit customization of the their capabilities, and how to support open-ended integration with third party software or customer legacy systems. The usual solution to the problem of product customization is to support a checklist of options and customization variables. These options and variables are used by the product’s components to tailor their processing. This mechanism only supports minor tuning of function. It does not support wholesale change of operation. For example, significant steps in the processing of work usually cannot be eliminated, reordered or completely replaced. It is usually impossible to add new components in the flow of work. The architecture is set on a fixed sequence of operations. The problem of integration with external software is traditionally solved by creating specified points in the software product where synchronous calls are made to user exit routines. The exit routine is written by a system integrator or customer developer and can pass data and events to external systems. The product then may accept some data as output from the exit routine and include it in its processing. Default, do-nothing, exit routines are usually supplied with the software product.

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Business Process Framework

   Disclosed is a framework for creating extensible, customizable software products. It uses a high-level, declarative language to describe the processing steps for performing business processes.

     New software products face the problems of how to permit customization of the their capabilities, and how to support open-ended integration with third party software or customer legacy systems.

     The usual solution to the problem of product customization is to support a checklist of options and customization variables. These options and variables are used by the product's components to tailor their processing. This mechanism only supports minor tuning of function. It does not support wholesale change of operation. For example, significant steps in the processing of work usually cannot be eliminated, reordered or completely replaced. It is usually impossible to add new components in the flow of work. The architecture is set on a fixed sequence of operations.

     The problem of integration with external software is traditionally solved by creating specified points in the software product where synchronous calls are made to user exit routines. The exit routine is written by a system integrator or customer developer and can pass data and events to external systems. The product then may accept some data as output from the exit routine and include it in its processing. Default, do-nothing, exit routines are usually supplied with the software product.

     Usually, the number of user exit routines, and the place in the product architecture where they are invoked, is fixed and unchanging. The ability of user exit routines to affect subsequent processing is very limited.

     The improved method organizes the software product around a Business Process Framework. The framework consists of a text file, the business process template file, which lists business processes and the execution steps which constitute those processes; and a set of programs which can execute the steps in sequence when requested to run a business process.

     The programs which constitute the framework, provide the execution infrastructure for each execution step. Two major components of this support is a consistent method to support configuration information, and the concept of loadable services.

     Loadable service support permits the framework itself to be lightweight, yet support system services such as database persistence, transaction logging, and connection to external systems, to be plugged in, configured in a consistent manner, and easily used by the execution modules.

     The combination of business process template file, standardized configuration support, and loadable services are a tremendous improvement in extensibility and customizability over the traditional solution.

     The business process template file contains all of the business processes known to the system.

A business process(BP) is a named sequence of business process objects(BPO). The Business Process framewo...