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InRule Update – Release 3.2


InRule Technology is continuing to sell with a ruthless focus on .NET. They say they are still getting good traction with their focus on being the premier .NET business rules solution. Version 3.2 was released mid May and was a release driven primarily by the requests they get from their customers, especially those selected by customers at their recent user group as most important. New features were concentrated in the development tools (both developer and business analyst users) and the repository or catalog.

  • RuleFlow has been added to make it easier to control the high level ordering of rules. In previous releases the rule sets were managed in a hierarchy but the way those rule sets contribute to a decision was less clear. The RuleFlow allows rule sets, other rule flows and conditional branching to be added to create a decision flow. RuleFlows can execute Workflow steps (a nice feature to integrate Workflow Foundation activities) and either complete or stop. RuleFlow’s can be packaged up into a Decision Service. Classic functionality, simple but effective.
  • User-defined functions can be added using newly-released irScriptTM based on the Microsoft Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR). Similar to Javascript, these functions can be stored in one or more libraries. These allow snippets of procedural logic to be written so they can be included in a rule project without having to call out to a separate DLL or similar. Functions can access the metadata and related data from their context so they know where they are being used. They can also access Windows system libraries for things like system date etc. This allows users to write system-level functions that leverage the runtime context and metadata.
  • Regression testing has been given a facelift. Users could easily set input data and see the results – lots of nice data is returned about execution. Now they can use this data to create a test case for which they can also specify assertions (things that should be true) in an nUnit like approach. Tests can be run interactively and updated allowing errors in test cases to be quickly found and changed. Once a set of tests is defined as a test suite (which supports a folder structure containing the tests) they can be run as a set to see how many pass/fail, drill into failures etc. These test are fully integrated with nUnit so that they can be combined with other tests for the rest of the application tests and run in an integrated way as part of the standard build process.These tests may run in an integrated way as part of the standard build process alongside other application tests, such as nUnit [corrected 5/27/2009]
  • Rule Tracing has been added for enhanced troubleshooting and debugging. This generates detailed XML for the rule execution. At present this is just an XML stream with no visualization provided but it can be loaded and managed as XML in the meantime.
  • irStudio puts all the key irAuthor capabilities inside Visual Studio so developers don’t need to leave the Visual Studio environment. Within Visual Studio can open an InRule application and then the matching business rules definition. The project hierarchy is displayed and the developer can use Visual Studio and access all the various elements. For instance, they could make a change to the object model and then bring it into the rule project so that rules can be written against it. Clearly the schema is the main thing here but it also allows developers to see and edit rules.
  • Active Directory integration has been added to simplify user and permission management. With their focus on .NET most of their customers are using Active Directory so this makes perfect sense.

All in all a nice release with lots of new features.


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