BPMN 2.0 Update

I've been quiet lately for a number of reasons. A very significant one is the fact I am now participating with the technical team developing the BPMN 2.0 specification for OMG. I am trying to be a good team member and not scream too loudly about the things that are driving me crazy about it. Particularly when the probability is even slightly greater than zero that one or two of my suggestions will make it into the spec. But I can share a few impressions.

First, how I joined the team. Any OMG member can see the public drafts of the specifications. The last one was in November. One section of it was particularly obtuse and annoying so I rewrote it and sent to Steve White. It turns out the BPMN 2.0 team can consider one-liner comments and requests from outside, but for them to even look at something like a paragraph I would need to sign a simple agreement. And to be taken seriously, I would need to sign a 12-page agreement and Fedex copies of it all over the world. Which I did.

OK, welcome to the team. It is led by IBM , SAP, and Oracle. Mostly the first two. There are others involved, like me - and the BPDM crew as well! - but you need the Big 3 to bless any new idea for it to be dealt with seriously. The weekly calls are at 7am on Monday, and I have been dutifully getting up early to call in. To be fair, most of the team is in Europe and it's late afternoon there.

The big surprise for me was that BPMN 2.0 is all about executable BPMN. Not executable like the way Lombardi, Tibco, Appian, Adobe et al do it now, where BPMN is just the "model" and the executable part is specific to each vendor. Executable as in the implementation details - data, services, messages, task performer assignment - are all specified using standard BPMN attributes! Wow, who asked for that? Maybe the BPEL vendors. Hmmm...

My big thing right now is trying to make sure that BPMN models without all that stuff can be schema-valid. And we're not there yet! Yes, sad but true.

The other revelation for me has been the whole xmi vs xsd business. One is O-O and the other is about XML. They seem to exist in parallel universes, as do their partisans, with only the vaguest notions about the other. I'm an XML/xsd person. I see a lot of BPMN tools and I don't know any that use xmi. But even on the IBM-Oracle-SAP team, the xmi mindset is paramount. I often hear that "most tools" use xmi not xsd. Like I said, parallel universes.

The team is shooting for a votable submission in March. There is a huge amount of work left to do. People are working very hard, but I don't know if we'll make it.