Tom's blog is one of my favorite to keep track of, partly because he takes a fairly pure software engineering approach to the business problem of BPM.? It sounds ironic perhaps, that I would find this interesting, given that our focus at BP3 is all about business process improvement, and *business* results. However, there is something refreshing about Tom's approach to BPM, as embodied in the jBPM project.? There is also something pure about trying to provide tooling for a problem, without worrying about certain commercial interests that affect the behavior of enterprise software vendors.
I still think the commercial vendors are providing an overall user experience that is closer to what the business (and IT) wants out of BPM for truly business-facing processes.? However, efforts like jBPM have a real chance at becoming the de-facto plumbing behind commercial products, by providing (as Tom would put it) a "bottom up" set of foundational building blocks that build up to what you need for a BPM solution. Will jBPM be the chief open source answer to BPM the way that Apache was for web servers?? Too early to tell, and there are other efforts - but if jBPM lives up to its billing, and its core team of contributors keep at it, it seems plausible.
I've been thinking about what would happen if someone took a very BPMN centric point of view and tried to overlay it on jBPM - could they describe all of the behaviors in jPDL?? Would the Process Virtual Machine (PVM) have all the necessary primitives to support the BPMN aspects?? Could the end-result be tied into an existing modeling framework/toolset?
Here's the slideshow Tom gave at a recent BeJUG meeting: