Syndicated from ebizQ
Today is the official release day for the new release of JBoss Enterprise BRMS – Drools 5.0 as was. Key features in this release are the repository/repository management tools and the new features that let business users and business analysts participate directly in editing the rules. Craig Muzilla, the VP Middleware Business Unit at Red Hat, made the key pitch for rules in the press release – “In today’s economic environment businesses must be able to quickly adapt and respond to regulations, customer trends, opportunities and threats”. The new features in this release include:
Asset storage in the repository uses the Java Content Repository (JSR 170) standard allowing it to use both open source and commercial storage platforms (it ships with JackRabbit, an open source implementation) and
ensuring your content is not locked up in a closed proprietary format. Versioning and logging of edits/comments, comments and comparisons and a hierarchical view of the assets being stored were all available making repository navigation easy. A WebDAV interface to the repository is also available allowing remote file storage and access and there is an Eclipse team provider allowing developers to synchronize their development environments with the JCR repository.
A web-based business rule management system for Drools that looks and works like a real desktop application.
Navigating around, opening multiple tabs, viewing and editing various assets is all very elegant and responsive. Authentication is handled through Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS) and roles are defined for users and then used to control the user interface. Import and export of XML packages is supported.
- Business user tools
This releases adds a number of features to make it easier for non-technical users to edit rules. The first is a web-based decision table editor. Decision tables are a popular tool for business users to define rules that can be represented as look up tables, for instance, and integrating this into the web environment makes it easy to expose this to users who would be uncomfortable in Eclipse. In addition a web-based rule flow viewer means non-technical users can also see the steps of a decision laid out graphically. In addition, DSLs have been integrated fully. A DSL or Domain Specific Language in this product is essentially a sentence, written for non-technical consumption, that maps to a condition or action statement for use in a rule. Variables can be defined in the sentence, and then used in the rule statement, allowing the engine to execute the rule based on the DSLs selected, the variables entered and the mapping of the sentence text to rule syntax. DSLs have been integrated with the rest of the interface so that DSL nodes can be used in rule flows and in the guided editor. DSLs can be mixed with traditional rules syntax so that business users can stick to DSLs, analysts can mix and match DSLs and syntax and programmers can write syntax.
- Design tools
Several design tools have been updated significantly, notably the ruleflow and DSL editors The new rule flow editor has a nice palette of features. Splits, joins, for each loops, subflows, human tasks, timers and an interface allowing you to add you own kinds of nodes make the flow much more extensive than before. DSL nodes to be created in the flow to make it very business user friendly.The DSL editor has a new parser and some nice new features.
Scenario testing has been added. This allows test cases to be defined, stored in the repository and re-run to confirm changes have not created problems etc. There is also now a web-based interface that supports some rule verification, coverage, field usage, missing values and other testing.
Deployment of the rules into production has also improved with package deployment features and the ability to deploy a very lightweight service that then pulls files, packages, snapshots from the repository as needed to update the local rules being compiled and executed.
- Engine improvements
Core engine enhancements include temporal reasoning, support for XSDs and declarative type modeling.
Overall this looks like a very strong release and delivers an open source business rules management system that is a serious competitor for commercial products.