Article

BPMN 2.0 adds notation to handle BPM choreography

Jack Vaughan

BPMN has been around since the early 2000s, but it seems to be reaching a new plateau as one, business users call on IT to create more business process-oriented applications and, two, an all-important Version 2.0

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of BPMN begins to appear in tools offerings. A choreography model is an important addition.

Many organizations and more than a few individuals wait for a 'Version 2.0' before they try out anything. So BPMN 2.0 will get special attention in many quarters. More important, perhaps, BPMN 2.0 adds XML schema support that enables BPMN 2.0 output to be transformed for use by BPEL-empowered rules engines for BPM. BPMN 2.0 is still on its way to formal standards ratification, but it has reached a point where vendors are able to field some BMPN 2.0 capabilities.

This is particularly important for developers, as it should help streamline the process of converting a business analyst's model of processes into executable software. How streamlined this process will eventually be is at present hard to tell. There is much BPMN learning to be done on both sides of the business-IT gap.

The notion of notation is pretty familiar to users of UML, although this modeling language has been used for many purposes other than notation over time. As a means of notation, or as a flow-chart oriented graphical representation, BPMN was developed originally by the Business Process Management Initiative. That group eventually became part of the Object Management Group (OMG), the UML-standard-steward.

The new version of BPMN includes enhancements to some of the original BPM notation, which comprised Activities, Events, Gateways, Connections, Artifacts and Swimlanes. The new version includes extensibility mechanisms.

Effective BPM is something of a dance, where elements arise as needed to ensure that processes execute. Thus, a new Choreography model for BPMN 2.0 will find interest and use.

As described in a key OMG spec document:

A Choreography is a type of process, but differs in purpose and behavior from a standard BPMN Process. A standard Process, or an Orchestration Process is more familiar to most process modelers and defines the flow of Activities of a specific PartnerEntity or organization.

In contrast, Choreography formalizes the way business Participants coordinate their interactions. The focus is not on orchestrations of the work performed within these Participants, but rather on the exchange of information (Messages) between these Participants.

Pools and related Swimlanes have become an especially essential notation within BPMN. These conceptual guides align paths on which processes execute different sub-processes. In BPMN 2.0, Choreographies exist outside of or in between Pools.

The OMG writes:

Pools are the graphical representation of Participants. A Choreography, on the other hand, is a different kind of process. A Choreography defines the sequence of interactions between Participants. Thus, a Choreography does not exist in a single Pool—it is not the purview of a single Participant.

There is much to learn in BPMN 2.0, and more to come from experts and other implementors.

More BPM Info
BPM.info
Introduction to BPMN
5 Things to Love about BPMN 2.0


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