How workflow is going to change your life.

by Paul Browne

If you want the full detail , go to this article by Tom Bayerns of JBoss.  If you want the superficial , lightweight version , stick right here!

Look at this picture. Isn't it pretty?

What workflow is:
  1. You draw the above workflow diagram using the JBoss IDE (it's a bit like Visio or any other drawing tool)
  2. You get your developers to put small bits of Java code behind each block (not difficult)
  3. Your business process changes? You drag and drop the diagram et Voila! you have your new business system already implemented.
Ok, it's a gross simplification. But in terms of 'drag and drop' programming , it's the closest that I've seen so far.

More stuff that we've written about workflow. Some posts, including Windows Workflow and the difference between JBoss Workflow Engine and JBoss Rules Engine (Drools) even have some detail in them.


John Mettraux
2006-05-20 08:07:44
The workflow world isn't limited to/by JBoss or Microsoft.

See for instance :
(and that's only the java side of it)

Beware over-simplication.


Paul Browne
2006-05-20 09:22:25
You're correct , there are a lot of workflow players out there. Yes, the post is a bit of 'workflow for dummies' , but at least you have the link for further information! The aim was to introduce workflow to a wider audience, so I appreciate the link you provided.

From my perspective (as a Mercenary Java consultant :-) I need to choose which workflow framework is going to win out in the market (not necessarily the best technically). This is good for clients (as they are not left stranded ), and a good return on the time spent learning the framework.

On this analysis, I see three main players in the market:
1) Microsoft, as it will ship with the next version of Windows.
2) Oracle, again due to it shipping with a large installed base.
3) JBoss, as it has good visual tools , low licence costs and can also be used outside of the J2EE Server.

Which framework did you choose?

John Mettraux
2006-05-20 10:40:21
I chose OpenWFE because it's not Java bound and it completely separates process definitions from their participants. It's really about managing business processes.

I develop OpenWFE, so I'm biased.

I also wanted to point out that jBpm isn't the only workflow player, and that it's view on BPM is limited.

If you want to learn more about workflow/BPM, I'd recommend :

Best regards,


2006-05-22 15:07:15
Interesting. Fuego BPM (now BEA AquaLogic BPM) has been providing this for almost 10 years now. It's not open source though :-\
2006-05-23 00:46:38
I am little curious about his article. He writes it as jBPM is strictly bound to database transactions. Is this true, or just one of his simplifications?

I have an old application where workflows are implemented in a database (yeah, duh) and one of the performance issues is that everything is bound to transactions on the database, where I would like a new workflow implementation to be able to use something more easily distributable/scalable.

Paul Browne
2006-05-23 01:59:59
Regarding Workflow and Databases : The answer is no, you don't have to have a database with your workflow. For example, a lot of the airline booking sites go straight to a mainframe, with no database used.

However, most applications that are complex enough to need workflow are complex enough to need a database as well. Consider it more of a co-incidence than one needing the other.

Paul ,

Gary Gnu
2006-05-25 20:01:26
You could check out Web and Flo or Skelta both seem to have drag and drop without adding any javacode.
suffuse Dublin
2007-01-25 01:04:26
If you want the full detail , go to this article by Tom Bayerns of JBoss.  If you want the superficial , lightweight version , stick right here!
I do not agree. Go to