Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Intalio - Becoming a Good Fit for Enterprise

Although I really like the approach that Intalio has taken to BPMS with its use, support and provisioning of Open Source components and adoption of standards, I have been frustrated by the user interface and lack of reporting mechanisms for the BPMS itself (broadly BAM). The user interface was developed to support the Tempo workflow component without much consideration that people engaged in workflow may need to have some integration with systems that are not to be provided by the Intalio solutions. There may even be a corporate way of presenting the user interface for tasks/to-do lists (Microsoft's Outlook has a fairly wide usage in this respect). It is intuitively clear that given the use of standards like SOAP in Intalio, replacement of the UI at run-time is fairly simple as all the interfaces are defined in WSDL. Not so easy, is incorporating a replacement UI into the Intalio Designer (eclipse-based). However, there has apparently been some work going on in dark corners to resolve these and the up-coming user conference will have some show and tell on replacing the user interface using, as an example, Ruby-on-Rails. My particular interest will be to see if a full-function XFORMS user-interface can be developed combining the benefits of the visual form design already in Intalio with the ability to use standard message schemas and have full control of the submissions from the form. There has been some smart work on BAM which looks to be following the common Intalio thread of open source by using the Eclipse BIRT reporting project . Again this is featured at the user conference. Unfortunately, I am not able to make the conference but will be following the output with interest.


Jonathan Crow said...


We were sorry to hear you wouldn't be able to join us for the conference.

If you are nice we might share the materials;).

No, we do plan on making as much of the material available as possible. But, it's nothing like the real thing.

We now have a forum dedicated to the event. Even if you aren't attending it is a great place to add your thoughts about what you would like to see come out of the user conference.


Hugues said...

Hi David!

It is exciting to see your interest in our recent improvements towards supporting a custom technology for workflow-forms in Designer.

I presented at the user conference the notion of "form-descriptor" that enable designing business processes with arbitrary type of forms. We demoed its use with ruby-on-rails and Tibco General Interface.

In Intalio|Designer-5.2, a form-descriptor defines the location of the input of the form, its output and the URL where the form is hosted at runtime.
Using an extension point you can associate a file-extension to a java class in charge of reading the file to let designer know those 3 parameters.
You can then drag and drop a file with such extension on BPMN diagrams. It will behave just like xforms dropped on BPMN diagrams in 5.1.
The 5.2 Community Edition is packaged with implementations of a form descriptor for *.xforms and *.sampleform which is simply a property file where the references to the input/output schema elements and deployment URL are written.
Our customers with a support contract are given access to the designer-SDK and a tutorial to develop their own form-descriptor.

Here are the slides of those presentations:
Custom Forms Part 1: Designer

Custom Forms Part 2: Runtime
PS: We are working on being able to access those files without registration on the portal.

Hugues Malphettes, Intalio|Designer Tech Lead