Book Review – JBoss Business Process Management

Quick Review

I would have bought the Packt JPBM workflow book even though I got a free review copy. I wish I had it when I was first learning Workflow / jBPM

Long Review

I like workflow, which doesn’t tend to make me very popular at parties. But, since you’re reading this blog, I’ll assume that you have some interest in Workflow, and will now proceed to tell you all about it (if I’ve got this wrong, and you’re using Google Reader, hit the ‘J’ button now to speed on to something more interesting. We’ll forget all about this in the couple of days when I next blog).

Still here? While most computer programs aim to finish as soon as possible, workflow programs can run over many hours , days or weeks (stick with me, this gets better). Most of the difficulties that programmers face when coming to workflow aren’t technical (workflow is no more difficult than using one of the many web frameworks out there) but  conceptual.

  1. Trust the force, Luke; If you’re used to writing your own programs, it can be a bit of a switch to writing small actions to be embedded into a larger workflow framework.
  2. Forget about Hello World. Workflow is used to solve complex problems. It’s going to take a bigger investment of your time to appreciate the true power of  workflow .
  3. Tip of the iceberg (aka Why can’t I write my own?) Most people start out not needing an entire workflow framework, but to solve a specific problem. So they begin to write their own framework. Then they find another requirement, then another. By the time they realise that they need an ‘off the shelf’ framework, they’re reluctant to to dump their investment.

So where does the book come into this?

jBpm Java Business Process Management book cover

jBpm Java Business Process Management book cover

Put simply, the book lets you overcome those  three big problems more quickly.

Yes, it deals with the ‘nuts and bolts’ of workflow – how to setup the framework. How to use the Eclipse based editor to draw / design your workflow. How to the use the various tasks that come bundled with the framework, and how to write your own. How to persist your workflow so that even if the system fails, the business can still recover. But all of these are covered quite well in the JBoss jBPM documentation, even though having it in book format is very useful.

Where the book is really good is that it talks you through the concepts of workflow, why you should be using it, and gives you the big picture straight away. It also will help convince you (or your boss) that an off-the-shelf framework is much, much better than even thinking of writing your own.

Combined with the fact that jBPM is open source, and is available for free download from JBoss / RedHat (i.e. it is low cost to start, but is credible enough to deploy in the enterprise), this make the book an ideal way to experiment with workflow. Even if you choose (or somebody else chooses for you) to use an alternative workflow framework, once you mastered the concepts (which are the same for most frameworks), picking up the technical details is relatively easy.

Things I didn’t like about this book; One is partly jealously – the style of the book (making a complex subject easily available to beginners) is one that I wish I had mastered in my own book. The other is that while the examples are very good in each chapter, it would have been good if each sample built on the one previously, so that you ended the book with quite a sophisticated system. Given my interest in other JBoss projects (such as JBoss Rules / Drools) it would have been good if these were mentioned and explained (e.g. the Drools rule engine integrates well with decision making nodes)

Minor gripes, and all very specific to my interest in JBoss technology.  I would still buy the book if despite knowing all of this, given that it introduces the concepts and technology so well.

Link to Book on Amazon.

Economist special report on social networking

If you’re a consultant, the place to make money is just before an idea / process / technology goes mainstream. Too early and you risk been seen as a nutcase. Too late are you get lost in the chorus of ‘me too’.

The best method of gauging when a technology idea is going mainstream is the Economist Magazine. When they publish an article about an emerging idea / technology, they’re doing it on behalf of their readers – the ‘informed mainstream, including the decision makers that you’ll be pitching you proposal based on that technology to. So far , they’ve called it right about the Internet, Agile Projects, Open Source and Cloud computing.

So, for all that have been calling for the last 18 months that ‘Social Networking is going mainstream’ , the Economist has published a special report on the issue.

Well worth a read, even if you think you know it all about Social Networking already.

JBoss jBPM Book on its way from Packt – Java Business Process Management (Workflow)

In a previous life, I’ve been lucky to work with two very good JBoss Products – JBoss jBPM (Workflow) and JBoss Drools (Rules). Just in case you missed it; slides from the IJTC conference (jBPM), Rules presentation to the jBPM conference and of course not to forget the Rules Book. The lines between jBPM and Drools have blurred slightly, but the competing open source teams just enhance the quality of both products, and which one is best very much depends on the problem that you have at hand.

jBpm Java Business Process Management book cover

jBpm Java Business Process Management book cover

So, I’ve been asked by Packt (the guys how published my book) to review the new jBPM Developer guide book. So, not only do I get to help a fellow author (Good Karma), I get the catchup on features of jBPM I may not have used yet in my professional capacity, and I get a free book. What is there not to like?

Disclaimer – getting free copy, but am otherwise free to write good / bad / or completely off the wall ideas about it. Watch this space.

Bizcamp Dublin is tomorrow … see you there

Really looking forward to Bizcamp tomorrow in the Guinness Storehouse Dublin.  5 Streams of 8 Sessions each = 40 Top speakers, not to mention the buzz of meeting 500 people in the business and technology areas. And it’s free (thanks to a word from the sponsors … )

Bizcamp

Want to say a big thank you for the guys who did all the hard work in putting the camp together. Keith, Emily, Alan and Jason, do ye not have a business to run as well?!

Key people that I’m looking forward to hearing are the two EI guys (David is talking at 11.30 about Business plan mistakes and Gerard’s on at 15.30 about how your startup should approach EI for the first time). I’m also looking forward to seeing Ciara talk about personal productivity (10am), Ronan about Microsoft Bizspark (10.45),  Justin talking about Service (14.45) and Steve talking about Software as a Service (16.15).

Talk to you there!

Opportunities in the New Software Economy – Event Cork , Dublin and Galway

This event may be of interest if you’re about in Cork , Galway or Dublin on the 8th to 10th of Sept. (Disclosure – event is linked to my day job, but I would recommend it even if it were not).

Enterprise Ireland in association with IT@Cork, ITAG and ISA would like to invite you to a seminar entitled Opportunities in The New Software Economy’. These seminars will be held in Cork (Sept 8), Galway (Sept 9) and Dublin (Sept 10).

The New Software Economy is driven by the growth of the Internet and changes in the software value chain. It is underpinned by new technologies such as Open Source, Services Oriented Architecture (SOA), Cloud Computing, Semantic Web and Web 2.0. It is characterised by demand for greater flexibility, global delivery and cost effective solutions. Partnerships and collaborations predominate. Learn more about the New Software Economy

This seminar will give you the opportunity to network with key stake holders in the software industry in your region from different sections of the ecosystem: – SME, multinational companies, financial sector, public sector and academia.

Additionally, the seminar will provide insights from key thought leaders on the important topics at the forefront of the New Software Economy.

The speaker line-up will include:-

Chris Hofmann, Director of Engineering, Mozilla Foundation

Fergus Gloster, former VP of Business Development, Salesforce.com

Joe Drumgoole, CEO, Putplace.com

Date

Location

Venue

Time

Sept 8th 2009

Cork

Webworks, Cork

10.30 am– 1 pm

Register Here

Sept 9th 2009

Galway

Webworks, Galway

10.30 am – 1 pm

Register Here

Sept 10th 2009

Dublin

Radisson, Golden Lane

10.30 am – 1 pm

Register Here

Seminar cost:  Admission is €50 and will include tea/coffee on arrival and tea/coffee/sandwiches on conclusion

The full amount of €50 per person is due on registration. Spaces are limited and allocated on a first come first served basis.


Cancellation Policy

No refunds will be issued on cancellation, however if a registered participant cannot attend the seminar, he/she may nominate a substitute. Cancellations or substitutions must be notified by email to tina.cahill@enterprise-ireland.com.

Invoicing Policy

A sales order acknowledgement will be issued to you on receipt of your registration form. Invoices will be issued after the event has taken place.

Methods of payment

Payment can be made online by credit card.