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PFI803: Method and Apparatus for Tool-neutral Interchange and Standardization of Process Flows with local styles Disclosure Number: IPCOM000195707D
Publication Date: 2010-May-12
Document File: 5 page(s) / 93K

Publishing Venue

The Prior Art Database


Executive Summary: A method and apparatus to create a tool-neutral process interchange format to enable an efficient process interchange/conversion. Motivation: Business processes have been used increasingly not only to describe the steps and procedures of how business operations work but also to produce downstream deployable code to targeted systems. As a result, many proprietary business process modeling tools have be offered by vendors to create business process flows that specialize in various aspects of the business process modeling. For example, business process modeling tools have been in the market are Architecture of Integrated Information Systems (ARIS), IBM WebSphsere Business Modeler (WBM), System Architect, iLOG, as well as Microsoft Visio, which does not produce any downstream deployable code. Therefore, process flows created by the various business process modeling tools vary widely in the formats produced by the tools and there is no uniform format. First, the look-and-feel of process flows created by different process modeling tools are quite different, e.g. graphical data representations of shape elements, data layout data, e.g. size, direction, source/target shapes, connectors, etc. Second, the internal representations are in different the Extensible Markup Language (XML) format. In addition, Formatting instructions (e.g. bold, underline, center, color change, etc.) can be intermixed with content data, e.g. text label of a shape, thus interfering with full text search. This poses difficulties in tooling creating for either searching of the process flows contents and in reusing the process flows created by one tool in another tool. Moreover, it poses a big problem when the process flows created by drawing tools like Visio needed to be taken all the way through operational modeling to generate executable/stub code. Because the invalid construction of the process flows, i.e. connectors not properly connected to shapes, once imported into modeling tools, the process flows encounters many errors. Therefore, there is a significant need to validate process flows, and correct and repair any invalid portion so that the process flows can be properly transformed into valid formal models and reused by various modeling tools. Thus, the formal models can be further transformed for generating downstream deployable code and/or be used for model simulation, etc. Common standards such as Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) are still emerging and have not yet finalized in a standard format in the Extensible Markup Language (XML) for interchange. However, even with standard BPMN, it does not address the need to be able to search inside of a process for content data and locate the specific set of process flows that match the user criteria. Within this context, and with the realization that development of new formats/techniques to enable more efficient search will still foster the better matching process flows with user criteria, this set of four disclosures present a means of creating and characterizing a tool neutral format of Process Flow content inventory that is conducive to searching.

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PFI803: Method and Apparatus for Tool-neutral Interchange and Standardization of Process Flows with local styles


     A method and apparatus to create a tool-neutral process interchange format to enable the capabilities described below.

     Enables an efficient process interchange/conversion from N to 1 and then 1 to N instead of N-to-N conversion. That is, convert heterogeneous proprietary process formats to one interchange format with enriched attributes, and then convert the interchange format to various target proprietary process formats.
choice of intelligently filtering to (1) rules to trim down model by selectively copying a collection of elements useful to the target model , or (2) copy all regardless of the bulk elements of the source model

     Enable further transformation into various proprietary process formats to be viewed and used by proprietary tools, including shared semantics that may be above the common baseline information

     Enables easy process standardization and maximize interoperability, i.e. tool-neutral process interchange format can be easily transformed to conforming to a standard, e.g. BPMN format

Provides tool specific extensions

Add metadata and data for tool-specific extensions to:
1) enable downstream transformation to the format used by the creating tool or other tool
2) re-imported into the originating tool with Vendor-proprietary model data
3) Vendor's own extensions to a standard such as BPMN
4) Extension elements can be arranged either in an aggregated in one element types, e.g. AppExtensions, or in a dispersed...