My First Book Published – Business Rules with JBoss Drools

The guys over at the official Drools blog beat me to the announcement, as I was waiting for it to published on Amazon, but now that it has, I’m happy to announce that after 12 months of pushing and shoving, I’ve finally got my first book , on Business rules and Workflow, out the door.

What, you’re still here? Well if it takes a bit more to convince you to buy it, here’s the info on the Business Rules and Workflow book direct from the publishers (Packt) own site. If you can’t wait, and want to dive right in, the code samples from the book are available on the Red Piranha 2 website.

JBoss Drools Business Rules
JBoss Drools Business Rules Capture, automate, and reuse your business processes in a clear English language that your computer can understand.

  • An easy-to-understand JBoss Drools business rules tutorial for non-programmers
  • Automate your business processes such as order processing, supply management, staff activity, and more
  • Prototype, test, and implement workflows by themselves using business rules that are simple statements written in an English-like language
  • Discover advanced features of Drools to write clear business rules that execute quickly
  • For confident users of Excel or other business software, this book is everything you need to learn JBoss Drools business rules and successfully automate your business.


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Sample Chapter 4 Guided Rules with the Guvnor [2.0 MB]
Table of Contents
Book Details

Language English
Paperback 305 pages [191mm x 235mm]
Release date April 2009
ISBN 1847196063
ISBN 13 978-1-847196-06-4
Author(s) Paul Browne
Topics and Technologies Open Source, Java


A comprehensive, practical guide for business analysts and non-programmers to harnessing JBoss Drools Business Rules in your organization

In Detail

In business, a lot of actions are trigged by rules: “Order more ice cream when the stock is below 100 units and temperature is above 25° C”, “Approve credit card application when the credit background check is OK, past relationship with the customer is profitable, and identity is confirmed”, and so on. Traditional computer programming languages make it difficult to translate this “natural language” into a software program. But JBoss Rules (also known as Drools) enables anybody with basic IT skills and an understanding of the business to turn statements such as these into running computer code.

This book will teach you to specify business rules using JBoss Drools, and then put them into action in your business. You will be able to create rules that trigger actions and decisions, based on data that comes from a variety of sources and departments right across your business. Regardless of the size of your business, you can make your processes more effective and manageable by adopting JBoss Rules.

Banks use business rules to process your mortgage (home loan) application, and to manage the process through each step (initial indication of amount available, actual application, approval of the total according to strict rules regarding the amount of income, house value, previous repayment record, swapping title deeds, and so on).

Countries such as Australia apply business rules to visa applications (when you want to go and live there)—you get points for your age, whether you have a degree or masters, your occupation, any family members in the country, and a variety of other factors.

Supermarkets apply business rules to what stock they should have on their shelves and where—this depends upon analyzing factors such as how much shelf space there is, what location the supermarket is in, what people have bought the week before, the weather forecast for next week (for example, ice cream in hot weather), and what discounts the manufacturers are giving.

This book shows how you can use similar rules and processes in your business or organization. It begins with a detailed, clear explanation of business rules and how JBoss Rules supports them.

You will then see how to install and get to grips with the essential software required to use JBoss Rules. Once you have mastered the basic tools, you will learn how to build practical and effective of the business rule systems.

The book provides clear explanations of business rule jargon. You will learn how to work with Decision Tables, Domain-Specifi c Languages (DSL)s, the Guvnor and JBoss Integrated Development Environment (IDE), workflow and much more.

By the end of the book you will know exactly how to harness the power of JBoss Rules in your business.
Read the full Table of Contents for JBoss Drools Business Rules

What you will learn from this book

  • Understand the basics of business rules and JBoss rules with minimal effort
  • Install the required software easily and learn to use the Guvnor, which is a user-friendly web editor that’s also powerful enough to test our rules as we write them
  • Learn to write sophisticated rules and import the fact model into the Guvnor and then build a guided rule around it, which makes your web pages a lot clearer
  • Gain complete knowledge of what we can do with the Guvnor rule editor, and then use the JBoss IDE as an even more powerful way of writing rules, and automate processes for discounts, orders, sales, and more
  • Know the structure of the rule file through the example of a shipping schedule, which will help you with your own shipping schedule
  • Test your rules not only in the Guvnor, but also using FIT for rule testing against requirements documents; run unit tests using JUnit for error-free rules and interruption-free services
  • Specifically, non-developers can work with Excel spreadsheets as a fact model to develop business processes without learning any other new technology
  • Work with DSLs (Domain-Specific Languages) and rule flow to make writing rules easy; which makes staff training quicker and your working life easier
  • Deploy your business rules to the real world, which completes your project successfully, and combine this into a web project using the framework of your choice to provide better services
  • Benefit from concepts such as truth maintenance, conflict resolution, pattern matching rules agenda, and the Rete algorithm to provide advanced and faster business systems so that staff efficiency is maximized

Chapter 1, Drooling over JBoss Rules. This chapter gives you a good platform to understand business rules and JBoss rules. We look at the problems that you might have (and why you’re probably reading this book). We look at what business rule engines are, and how they evaluate business rules that appear very simple and how they become powerful when multiple rules are combined.

Chapter 2, Getting the software, deals with installation. This chapter explains setting up Java, setting up Business Rule Management System (BRMS)/Guvnor running on the JBoss App Server, setting up Eclipse, and installing the Drools Plug-in. It also details the installation of the Drools examples for this book and the Maven to build them.

Chapter 3, Meet the Guvnor, deals with writing our rules using the ‘Guvnor’. Guvnor is the user-friendly web editor that’s also powerful enough to test our rules as we write them. We take up an example to make things easier. Then we look at the various Guvnor screens, and see that it can not only write rules (using both guided and advanced editors), but that it can also organize rules and other assets in packages, and also allow us to test and deploy those packages. Finally, we write our very first business rule—the traditional ‘Hello World’ message announcing to everyone that we are now business rule authors.

Chapter 4, Guided Rules with the Guvnor. This chapter shows how to use the Guvnor rule editor to write some more sophisticated rules. It also shows how to get information in and out of our rules, and demonstrates how to create the fact model needed to do this. We import our new fact model into the Guvnor and then build a guided rule around it. Finally we test our rule as a way of making sure that it runs correctly.

Chapter 5, From Guvnor to JBoss IDE. This chapter pushes the boundries of what we can do with the Guvnor rule editor, and then brings in the JBoss IDE as an even more powerful way of writing rules. We start by using variables in our rules example. Then we discuss rule attributes (such as salience) to stop our rules from making changes that cause them to fi re again and again. After testing this successfully, we look at text-based rules, in both the Guvnor and the JBoss IDE, for running ‘Hello World’ in the new environment.

Chapter 6, More Rules in the jBoss IDE. This chapter looks again at the structure of a rule fi le. At the end of this chapter, we look at some more advanced rules that we can write and run in the IDE.

Chapter 7, Testing your Rules. This chapter explains how testing is not a standalone activity, but part of an ongoing cycle. In this chapter we see how to test our rules, not only in the Guvnor, but also using FIT for rule testing against requirements documents. This chapter also explains Unit Testing using JUnit.

Chapter 8, Data in Excel, Rules in Excel. This chapter explains how to use Excel Spreadsheets (cells and ranges) as our fact model to hold information, instead of the write-your-own-JavaBean approach we took earlier. Then we use Excel spreadsheets to hold Decision tables, to make repetitive rules easier to write.

Chapter 9, Domain-Specific Languages [DSL] and rule flow. This chapter aims to make our rules both easier to use, and more powerful. We start with DSLs—Domain-Specifi c Languages. This chapter follows on from the ‘easy to write rules’ theme from the previous chapter and also discusses both ruleflow and workflow. It would be great to draw a workfl ow diagram to see/control what (groups of) rules should fi re and when. Rule flow gives us this sort of control.

Chapter 10, Deploying rules in real life. This chapter shows you how to deploy your business rules into the real world. We look at the pieces that make up an entire web application, and where rules fit into it. We see the various options to deploy rules as part of our application, and the team involved in doing so. Once they are deployed, we look at the code that would load and run the rules—both home-grown and using the standard RuleAgent. Finally we see how to combine this into a web project using the framework of your choice.

Chapter 11, Peeking under the covers. This chapter looks at what happens under the cover by opening up the internals of the Drools rule engine to understand concepts such as truth maintenance, confl ict resolution, pattern matching, and the rules agenda. In this chapter, we explore the Rete algorithm and discuss why it makes rules run faster than most comparable business logic. Finally we see the working memory audit log and the rules debug capabilities of the Drools IDE.

Chapter 12, Other Drools features. This chapter deals with the other advanced Drools features that have not yet been covered. This includes Smooks to bulk load data, Complex Event Processing, and Drools solver to provide solutions where traditional techniques would take too long.

Approach

This book takes a practical approach, with step-by-step instructions. It doesn’t hesitate to talk about the technologies, but takes time to explain them (to an Excel power-user level). There is a good use of graphics and code where necessary.

Who this book is written for

If you are a business analyst – somebody involved with enterprise IT but at a high level, understanding problems and planning solutions, rather than coding in-depth implementations – then this book is for you.

If you are a business user who needs to write rules, or a technical person who needs to support rules, this book is for you.

If you are looking for an introduction to rule engine technology, this book will satisfy your needs.

If you are a business user and want to write rules using Guvnor/JBoss IDE, this book will be suitable for you.

This book will also suit your need if you are a business user and want to understand what Drools can do and how it works, but would rather leave the implementation to a developer.


Author(s)

Paul Browne
Paul Browne’s first job was selling computers in France and things went steadily downhill from there. He spent millons on behalf of a UK telephone company’s procurement department and implemented direct marketing for a well-known Texan computer maker before joining the IT department of a company that builds bright red tractors and other seriously cool machines.

Paul then embraced his techie side (he was writing games in machine code from the age of 11) and started a consultancy that used IT to solve business problems for companies in the financial and public sectors in Ireland, UK , Belgium, and New Zealand. Eight years later, he now works with an Irish government agency that helps similar software companies to grow past their initial teething pains.

More formally, Paul has a bachelor’s degree in Business and French from the University of Ulster, a master’s degree in Advanced Software from UCD Dublin, a post-grad qualification in Procurement from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (UK), and will someday complete his ACCA financial exams.

Paul can be found on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/paulbrowne , and via the Red Piranha (Business knowledge) project at http://code.google.com/p/red-piranha/ .

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What is Bizcamp Dublin and why you should go on the 7th March

Bizcamp is a conference (un-conference) for start-up companies and entrepreneurs. The conference will be held in Dublin, on 7 March with another event in Limerick on the 21st March.

BizCamp is an opportunity for entrepreneurs and innovators to come together, share experiences, and possibly create new value out of the day. It’ll be a chance to meet up with people who’ve been there, done that and bought the t-shirt – members of the business community, VCs and investors, and representatives from the relevant state agencies. Lost your job or finding current market conditions tough? Come along to BizCamp, who knows what new opportunities might turn up?

People tend to associate *Camps with the Web and the tech start-ups, but our aim is to try and embrace as much of the Irish business community as possible. We want to see people from all streams – finance, operations, HR, legal, delivery specialists, R&D, marketing – and yes, even tech! Ireland Inc. has a wealth of knowledge and acumen, more than enough to help us out of these troubled times. By attending (and, more importantly, contributing!) you can help make BizCamp the first “good news story” of the recession.

A full list of people already signed up to attend is available at

http://www.bizcamp.ie/whos-attending/

Eircom, Bank of Ireland and other key digital companies will be sponsoring the event. The Bizcamp is being organised by a number of entrepreneurs who have businesses in the Leinster region, along with people active in the web from business and public sectors.

While most of the speaking slots are informal we are looking key business speakers for two panels on the day; Speakers should be recognizable figures, all with a good story to share. Suggested panel topics are raising funding and supports available for your business. A list of people already speaking at the event is online at http://www.bizcamp.ie/2009/01/speakers-sessions/

Aside from the business networking available at the event, Speakers will have an opportunity to promote themselves and their business in a friendly Q&A type session. If you think you’d have something to contribute to the panel,  please contact me (Paul) via the comment form on this blog.

 

Security in your Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) Application

‘Credit Crunch’ might be the favourite buzzword of the moment, but ‘Security’ and ‘Software as a Service’ are not very far behind. Ok, they’re a long way behind ‘will I lose my house’ or ‘will I have a job tomorrow’, but you get the idea. So I’m proud to associated by this article by Max and Chicco, even in a very minor way (as a reviewer).

IBM Developer works logo

Here’s the 2 minute overview of Securing a multi-tenant SAAS Appliction, just published on IBM Developerworks.

  1. Software as a Service (SAAS) has a great pitch – let us host your software for you, cheaper and less hassle than managing it yourself.
  2. Most SAAS companies host multiple clients on one server = New security concerns.
  3. LDAP (Similar to Windows Directory) is a standard already in wide use for Authentication (making sure people who they say they are).
  4. Spring Security (aka Acegi) is a well used Authorisation toolkit – i.e. make sure those people only do things they are allowed to do.
  5. The article shows you how to bring SAAS , LDAP and Spring Security together to get secure, scalable , hosted applications using the very best in widely understood technologies.

Of course, I’m not going to spill the beans on how exactly they do it; for that you’re going to have to hotfoot it over to the IBM Developerworks website.

Ireland's chance to vote Obama or McCain

What if Ireland really did get a chance to vote Obama or McCain in the forthcoming US Presidential election? While this Irish Times article suggests that we’re more Memphis than Massachusetts (think about that – Dana as an Irish version of Sarah Palin), now we’re going to find out what would really happen if we got to vote.

No, I’ve not found some ‘back door’ to allow us to take part, but the Economist is running an online poll to find out what would happen if the US President was choosen by worldwide vote.

Hmm … looks like Obama is leading 8,375 to 15. Those 15 come from Georgia (wondered what happened there recently) and Macedonia (next door to Kosovo with large scale Nato intervention).

Life’s unfair with McCain getting tarred with the legacy of 8 years of Bush. Especially after what happened him in the 2000 election (South Carolina Primary) where Bush hit him with some very low attack ads alleging that McCains wife had an affair (in reality, the couple have a daughter adopted from overseas).

Warning: This blog has a 100% failure rate when it comes to forecasting politics.

Start your own business – DKIT – North East

Apologies for not gettting this posted by the closing date. But the ‘closing’ date on these things tend to be flexible, so if you’re interested if worth checking out the NEPP site. Mulley has already blogged about similar programmes at hothouse (docklands), sepp (south east) and m50 (Tallaght IT)  if you’re located outside of the North-East.

Our claim to fame is that FirstPartners.net went through this program in 2003. And failed. But failed quickly – we realised within months that the mad business idea (selling open source technology to accountants) wasn’t going anywhere. We were able to bring the lessons learned back into the main consulting business. Far better than a lingering , drawn out half-life.

More information is here (pdf format)

Enterprise Platform Programme
Enterprise Support for Innovative Knowledge based, High Tech and Information Technology Startups

Introduction
The Novation Enterprise Platform Programme (NEPP) is a programme of  support for graduate entrepreneurs with an innovative business idea in the Knowledge Based, High Tech or IT sectors.

The main objective of the programme is to develop the commercial and job creation potential of the participant businesses. The programme delivers comprehensive training in business and management to equip participants to successfully start up and manage a new business. The
programme assists participants in the achievement of personal and business development goals in relation to the project. It also assists participants in the completion of market or technical feasibility studies and/or the preparation of a business plan.

Past Participants
Since its conception in 2001, over 70 entrepreneurs have participated on the Programme. A survey conducted recently confirmed that over 54 businesses have been established by NEPP participants resulting in total employment of 311 people and sales of €27million per annum.
Participants have also raised over €39 million in VC funds.

 The programme will be managed by the Regional Development Centre, on the campus of Dundalk Institute of Technology. Participants may choose to be based in the professional, entrepreneurial environment of the Regional Development Centre, and will have access to the laboratories, equipment and resources of Dundalk Institute of Technology.

Eligible participants receive a consultancy / travel allowance of approximately €1150. Eligible participants may also apply for funding through Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation of Research and Development (CORD) grants, whereby they can receive up to 50% of their previous year’s verifiable income (the grant in total will be capped at a maximum of €38,000).

 

The Novation EPP is a comprehensive package of business development
support including:

  • Project management and on-going monitoring of progress
  • Travel / consultancy allowance
  • Structured business and enterprise training to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to start-up your own business.
  • Networking with entrepreneurs, industry practitioners, researchers and trainers. 
  • Access to office space and specialist facilities, equipment and resources.
  • Mentoring system which provides one-to-one advice and guidance
  • Business Coaching which aims to optimise participants’ business performance
  • The programme will commence in Sept. 2008 and there will be regular formal reviews of participants’ progress.
  • Prize Fund. The 2008/09 programme introduces a prize fund for participants. Eligible businesses will be judged on a variety of criteria including best improvement, degree of innovation, presentation before a panel and performance at end of year tradeshow.

java@cork 2008 – 1 day Java Conference

IT@Cork have got good speakers from Eclipse, Springsource and Sun, and a Bargain at 130 Euro .. More details are available here.

IT at Cork Logo

Java@cork 2008

Tuesday, September 9, Radisson SAS Hotel, Little Island, Cork
Featuring speakers from SpringSource, Sun Microsystems, Eclipse Foundation and much more…

Agenda

  • OSGI and the Enterprise Ben Hale, SpringSource
  • Lucene – Open Source Search Engine – Case Study, Phil Corcoran, RR Donnelley
  • Eclipse Verticals – From Open Source Consumption to Creation , Ralph Mueller, Director, Eclipse Foundation
  • Leveraging Eclipse For Desktop Applications – Case Study, James Sugrue, Pilz Ireland
  • Demo of Spring plugin tools for Eclipse, Jonas Partner, SpringSource
  • Spring Integration, Jonas Partner, SpringSource
  • SOA In Practice, Oisin Hurley, Iona Technologies
  • The Future of Java for Rich Internet Applications, Simon Ritter, Sun Microsystems

Fee: €80pp for members. €130pp for non members. Students fee is €40.
Registration: email admin@itcork.ie or visit www.itcork.ie