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First Look: OpenL Tablets 5.21


EIS OpenL Tablets is a product of EIS Group focused on using a spreadsheet paradigm to manage business rules. I last spoke to OpenL Tablets in 2013 and recently got an update on the product. EIS OpenL Tablets is available as open source and in a commercial version. EIS Group is an insurance innovation company founded in 2008 with over 800 employees worldwide.

EIS OpenL Tablets has the usual Business Rules Management Systems components – a web studio, an engine and a web services deployment framework. It also has a plug-in for Maven, templates and support for logging to a NoSQL database. It uses a spreadsheet paradigm for rule management and this is key to engaging business users. They find that 90% of the business rules that business people need to write can be represented in spreadsheet-like decision tables (Decision Management Solutions finds the same on our consulting projects). As a result they focus on creating all the rules needed in Excel and then provide a single web based environment (demonstration available here) for validation and life cycle management.

The web studio allows a user to work with multiple projects and allows various groups of users to be given different privileges and access to various projects. Each project contains Excel files, deployment details and other details. Each Excel file can have multiple tabs and each tab can have multiple decision tables as well as simple look up tables, formulas, algorithms and configuration tables. All these can be viewed and edited in the web studio (where there are various wizards and automatic error checking capabilities) or can be opened in Excel and edited there.

Decision tables can have formulas in actions and conditions, supporting a complex set of internal logic. The user can also define a sequence of calculations using the tables as well as datatypes and a vocabulary (allowed values for inputs), sample data/test cases etc. Test cases can be run directly in the web interface and the rules can be traced to see which ones executed in a specific test case. There is an optional element to store a detailed execution log to a NoSQL database in production also.

Ongoing changes are tracked for an audit trail and changed versions can be compared in the web studio. A revision can be saved to create a snapshot at which point all the small changes are removed from the log and the snapshot is stored. These larger snapshots can also be compared.

Projects can contain service definitions for which rule services should be defined. Various deployment options are supported, and the user can specify which rules can be exposed as entry points. A swagger UI is generated for exposed service calls.

The commercial version of OpenL Tablets supports a dynamic web client, integration with Apache Spark and analytics/advanced modeling. The Apache Spark integration allows very large numbers of transactions to be run through the rules for impact simulation and what-if analysis.

More details on OpenL Tablets available at http://openl-tablets.org/