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First Look Blaze Advisor 6.6


Blaze Advisor 6.6 is an incremental release to Fair Isaac’s business rules management system that has just become available. As Fair Isaac has used the product more extensively as the basis for its decisioning applications its own experience has driven a variety of useful features and this, combined with the Blaze Advisor team’s usual focus on making the product more capable, has resulted in an interesting release.

  • Verification has been improved, although it was already among the most complete if not the most complete. Overlapping ranges and unreachable decision tree nodes are now detected and problems in decision trees and decision tables link directly to the node or cell causing the problem. The verification reports, complete with the hypertext navigation to problem instances, are completely integrated with the web-based rule maintenance applications allowing this functionality to be extended to business users also.
  • The repository functionality has been upgraded also. Not only has support for ClearCase been added to the existing CVS support, but a powerful comparison tool has been included. This can compare versions or compare projects in different repositories (development and production, say) at various levels of granularity (project, ruleset, filtered object list) etc. The comparison tool is available in the IDE as well as the web-based interface for business users and through the APIs.
  • Editing has been improved in the IDE with auto-complete/intellisense while editing in the rule maintenance applications has been extended. A formula builder is available for point-and-click development of formulae and rule maintenance applications can now include a free-form rule editor. This free-form editor can be combined with the template driven editor already available allowing, say, conditions to be freeform while actions are constrained to a template. Auto-complete is included in the free form editor and some control over the objects and syntax displayed is offered to help users. The way the free-form and template-driven pieces can be combined was particularly interesting as it allows most users to use templates while still allowing a power user to go a little further.
  • The logging framework has been extended and improved so that it integrates with, for instance, Log4J. Developers can also specify business information to be logged alongside the technical information and this allows a label for an outcome such as “Approved” or the approach used within a champion/challenger environment to be added to the log. The integration with external logging frameworks means that all this information can be stored off and used in standard analysis and reporting tools.
  • Performance and availability of running decision services can now be monitored using JMX (Java) and MOM (.Net) and this allows corporate systems management platforms to “watch” deployed Blaze Advisor services.

Lots of bits and pieces at one level but all useful, enterprise-y things typical of the Blaze Advisor team. The Java and COBOL versions of 6.6 are shipping and the.Net version is expected to ship within a few months.


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