BPM Voices: A snapshot of the new features in WebSphere Lombardi Edition V7.2

Learn about some of the new features available in WebSphere® Lombardi Edition V7.2, including enchancements to conditional activity modeling and management, the ILOG® JRules Decision Service Integration component, and integration with Enterprise Content Management (ECM) repositories. This content is part of the IBM Business Process Management Journal.

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Shili Yang (shiliy@ca.ibm.com), Advisory Software Developer, IBM

Shili Yang photoShili Yang has been a member of the WebSphere BPM Tools SWAT team since 2009, helping customers resolve technical issues with the products. Before joining SWAT, she worked on the BPM Architecture and Development team.


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19 January 2011

Introduction

IBM WebSphere Lombardi Edition (Lombardi) V7.1 was the first IBM offering of the product previously known as Lombardi Teamworks. The primary focus of the V7.1 release was to integrate the Lombardi product suite into the WebSphere family and make it more consistent with IBM support standards. Other than the new name, the key changes include moving the embedded application server from JBoss to WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V7, and enabling support for additional platforms such as AIX®, Linux® on IBM System Z®, Windows® 7, and for DB2® as the database engine.

In December 2010, IBM released Lombardi V7.2. This release continues on the path to integration with extended support such as globalization, so that a user can now choose from fourteen different languages to work with for installation, documentation, product tools and user interface. Lombardi V7.2 also includes an array of feature enhancements. I've had the opportunity to explore this new release and I'd like to share with you the highlights of the three new features I find most exciting, namely:

  • Conditional activity modeling and management.
  • The ILOG JRules Decision Service Integration component.
  • Integration with Enterprise Content Management (ECM) repositories.

For a full list and details of all the enhancements in Lombardi V7.2, refer to the Resources section.


Conditional activity modeling and management

The Lombardi Authoring Environment now enables users to include conditional activities in their business processes. Conditional activities allow for runtime selection of tasks to perform based on the values of certain process variables, which are set either in the user interface by the end user or programmatically via scripts.

To model a conditional activity, you need to set the Is Conditional attribute for an activity in the Authoring Environment to mark it conditional. When an activity is conditional, it displays a small diamond, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Conditional activity attribute and decoration
Conditional activity attribute and decoration

Lombardi provides a built-in wle Select Conditional Activity Coach, as shown in Figure 2, that the user can use to select which conditional activities to execute. The selection setting is stored and later accessed from the tw.system.step.isConditionalActivitySelected JavaScript property in the condition script for the activity to indicate whether it should be performed or skipped.

Figure 2. Conditional activity selection Coach
Conditional activity selection coach

The default behavior can be overridden with a customized script to dynamically determine whether a conditional activity is executed based on variable values, set by a rule service, for instance. For example, in the sample process application for Conditional Activities that comes with Lombardi V7.2, the Rule service wle Determine Needed Steps reads in the new employee type and sets the value for variables accordingly, such as tw.local.itSteps.eclipse, as seen in Figure 3.

Figure 3. wle Determine Needed Steps Rule service
wle Determine Needed Steps Rule service

This in turn is specified as the JavaScript expression in the condition script that determines whether the activity Install Eclipse IDE is performed, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. wle Setup computer condition script
wle Setup computer condition script

ILOG JRules Decision Service Integration component

Prior to V7.2, accessing an ILOG execution server to take advantage of the external rule services was possible, but required manual set-up of a web service client connector. Lombardi V7.2 provides a new ILOG JRules Decision Service Integration component that simplifies the integration configuration of ILOG JRules servers, enables discovery of available decision services running on the servers, and generates the artifacts for the underlying web services calls.

A new type of process application environment variable dedicated to ILOG Rule Servers is introduced. One or more ILOG Rule Execution Server specified with such environment variables, as shown in Figure 5, are made available to all process and service authors to use, as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 5. Environment variables for ILOG execution servers
Environment variables for ILOG execution servers
Figure 6. Available JRules servers, RuleApps and rulesets discovery
Available JRules servers, RuleApps and rulesets discovery

Additionally, discovery service is available for JRules servers with a SOAP port. A query is executed upon connecting to the server to discover the RuleApps running on it, along with the associated rulesets and their versions. The data returned is populated into the drop-down lists. For servers without a SOAP port, the information for the RuleApp and ruleset can be entered manually, as shown in Figure 6. Custom types for the inputs and outputs can be generated with RuleApp ad ruleset information, either discovered or entered. Data mapping can be done automatically based on the generated types, to map inputs and outputs to the JRules service, as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7. Data mapping for rule inputs and outputs to JRules server
Data mapping for rule inputs and outputs to JRules server

(See a larger version of Figure 7.)


Integration with Enterprise Content Management (ECM) document repositories

In addition to the existing internal document repository, Lombardi V7.2 supports a variety of ECM repositories by way of integration enabled by the IBM Content Integrator (ICI). Both IBM FileNet Content Manager and IBM Content Manager come with ICI, so they work with Lombardi V7.2 out of the box. The Document Attachment Coach control has been updated to retrieve documents stored in an ECM repository. A new Document Viewer widget allows for documents from an ECM repository to be viewed from within a Coach.

The ECM repositories are set up once as process application environment variables with types of either "ICI Web Service URL” or “ICI Connector Name,” as shown in Figure 8. Once configured, the repositories become available in the dropdown list on the Connection Properties page in the Document Attachment Coach control for the process authors to choose from.

Figure 8. Environment variables for ICI repositories
Environment variables for ICI repositories

Also in the Coach control, authors can define search filters to limit the list of documents returned to the users and choose to enable or disable uploading of documents to the ECM repository, as shown in Figures 9 and 10.

Figure 9. Coach control: document list/attach for ECM documents
Coach control for ECM documents

(See a larger version of Figure 9.)

Figure 10. Runtime: ECM document list
Runtime: ECM document list

(See a larger version of Figure 10.)

A Document Viewer can be configured to be associated with a Document Attach List, as shown in Figure 11. At runtime, it displays a page similar to Figure 12, where a Document Viewer is shown next to the list of documents and renders a selected document, as long as the type of document is supported by the browser.

Figure 11. Coach control: Document Viewer for ECM document
Coach control: Document Viewer for ECM document

(See a larger version of Figure 11.)

Figure 12. Runtime: ECM document shown in Document Viewer
Runtime: ECM document shown in Document Viewer

Resources

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