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Book Reviews

Book Review: jBPM Developer Guide 39

RickJWagner writes "jBPM is a mature, open source business process management (BPM) solution. This book, written in a developer-centric manner, guides the reader through the framework and exposes many important considerations for production use. BPM tools are used to define and execute business processes. They usually come with a graphical editor, which is used to drag and drop boxes onto a graph. The boxes represent activities performed by programs, activities performed by humans, and decision points. If this all sounds like 'graphical programming', it isn't. The picture does draw out the desired series of steps, but there's always configuration and maybe some programming involved as well." Read below for the rest of Rick's review.
jBPM Developer Guide
author Mauricio Salatino
pages Packt Publishing
publisher 372
rating RickJWagner
reviewer 1847195687
ISBN A complete developer's guide to working with jBPM in a J2EE enterprise environment
summary 7/10
Developers new to the scene will probably draw parallels between BPEL and BPM. While they both allow the designer to orchestrate a series of activities, BPEL uses web services exclusively. (BPM doesn't specify, and often uses Java classes to accomplish desired goals.) BPEL offers support for human-activities (from BPEL4People and WS-HumanTask), but BPM has offered human tasks from the early days, so probably is a better choice if you have lots of them.

The book is true to it's title, it's definitely a book for developers. In the early chapters the reader is guided through implementing their own mini-BPM engine. This is an interesting exercise and helps solidify in the reader's mind the core concepts behind jBPM. It also reinforces the notion that jBPM can be used in a lightweight manner-- it's just as easily embeddable in a standalone Java application as it is deployed in a JEE container.

Speaking of JEE containers, jBPM is a JBoss product, so it's natural that it makes use of available infrastructure like Hibernate, poolable data sources, and enterprise beans for enterprise use. These are all optional-- if you want to write a minimal application that sits outside of JBoss, that's fine. But if you have heavyweight needs, heavyweight infrastructure is readily available. The book covers these important options in detail, which will be useful for developers writing real-world applications.

jBPM is popular enough that it's mentioned in quite a few SOA books as an enabling technology for process management. Most of these books provide coverage of the minimal, embedded use of jBPM. This book differs in that it provides good explanations of the 'enterprise' use.

Normally I strongly prefer paper books to electronic versions, but in this case I'd recommend you might consider the eBook. I say that because the book is much more useful if it's used in conjunction with the source code found on the publisher's site. The book shows source code in each example, but it's just a snippet out of context. I found the content much easier to understand when it was viewed next to all the related artifacts, so you can understand how they relate. (By the way, the toolkit used includes Maven and Eclipse. The reader is given adequate instruction in the front part of the book on setting these up.)

There's not much fluff in the book. It runs about 350 pages. Heavy Developer-type stuff starts after about 40 pages and never really gets lighter after that. Screen shots and diagrams are given where necessary, but mostly it's code and text. Sometimes books are criticized for being light on technical content and overstuffed with pictures and basic diagrams. This criticism does not apply in this case.

A big part of jBPM development is in data handling-- how do you get data into your process instance, and how do you get data out? The author explains this well, and it is a necessary discussion.

You might wonder why you should be interested in this book, which covers jBPM 3.2.6. After all, jBPM 5 was just released. What about jBPM 4? I believe this book will be relevant for quite a while yet, as jBPM 4 is not going to be included in JBoss's support cycle. They'll stay with jBPM 3 (the current supported standard) and will eventually move on to jBPM 5 (after it's gone through the 'community trial by fire' on it's way to productization.) jBPM 5 is going to be a big change from the current landscape-- it's converging with the rules engine Drools. For these reasons, I expect there will be a lot of jBPM 3 development done for a while yet.

So, who would I recommend this book for? I'd say it's a good book for anyone supporting a jBPM 3 deployment, or anyone considering developing a process-centric application. jBPM is a good product, and this book can help a reasonably skilled Java developer get off the ground. I would not recommend the book for someone just out trolling for a technology book to pick up, or an analyst charged with developing the graphical process depictions. As the title says, this is a book for developers.

You can purchase jBPM Developer Guide from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Book Review: jBPM Developer Guide

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  • by CajunArson ( 465943 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @03:30PM (#35223962) Journal

    Developers new to the scene will probably draw parallels between BPEL and BPM.

        Damn straight... BPEL is totally east coast while BPM is rockin' the hood west sieede.
          Or maybe "developers new to the scene" won't have any idea what the hell two obscure acronyms stand for and maybe.. just maybe.. you could provide a bit of context?
          And for the people who are going to whine about Googling for the answer... if I can google for the answer, why bother buying this book or reading the review to begin with?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    1) RickJWagner: check!
    2) Book by Packt Publishing: check!
    3) Rating of either 7/10 but still recommend book: check!

    Nice shilling, bro! How much does Packt pay you to keep shilling their books?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @03:36PM (#35224032)

    This book review is exactly what I needed!

    You know, I often find myself asking how I can increase my ROA through CRM and different SOA BEAs. Our MIS is SOL unless we can RQT it ASAP. JEE is the route to go for SMB because you just can't rely on those lousy SNEs to BTN the TMP. jBPM is obviously TRM but does it integrate PDI for our ODBC?

    TFT. T. F. T.

  • Define your terms! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wild_berry ( 448019 ) * on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @03:41PM (#35224092) Journal

    This is a really terrible review. You could have said that Business Process Management (BPM) and Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) are important to know for this book. Or it's so esoteric that, if you need to know what BPM is, you already know BPM.

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      Agreed. I read the blurb part of this review, and I was wondering what the heck business processes had to do with beats-per-minute (BPM) calculations. You should ALWAYS define acronyms explicitly upon first use.

      • by mvdwege ( 243851 )

        In which case I posit you're an illiterate, because it is right there in the very first sentence of the summary.


        • That was added after (in response to?) my comment post. The mods can do that, and thumbs up to them for improving this content-free front-page post.

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          In which case I posit you're an illiterate, because it is right there in the very first sentence of the summary.

          It wasn't in the summary when I posted my comment (half a day before you posted your reply). These sorts of problems tend to get fixed by the editors after people complain. Then a new crop of people comes in later, and they say, "Huh?" because the problem has already been fixed. And then people have to explain to those people that the editors changed the summary. It happens every time.

          This is

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by msauve ( 701917 )
      Undefined TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) really make my blood boil, which is why I was interested in an article about Blood Pressure Monitors.
  • by bigredradio ( 631970 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @04:13PM (#35224404) Homepage Journal
    I just checked the calendar. Is it April 1st? That would suck because I really like March.
  • ...but why would I need software for Beats Per Minute?

  • Every few years someone invents an awesome new methodology that's basically warmed up flowcharts with a bit of CASE and charges mucho $$$$$ for it.

    Needless to say the PHBs lap it up.

    • jBPM is open source and free software, as pretty much all of the JBoss stuff is.

      That being said, I would not use jBPM for a new project anymore. It uses it's own proprietary modeling language as opposed to the more standard BPMN2.0 notation, and a lot of the original developers left the project to start Activiti [activiti.org].

      Activiti does use BPMN2.0 for it's notation, meaning you have much more choices in editing software.

      As to the whole concept of BPM itself: it's very specialized software in that it allows you to do

      • by xero314 ( 722674 )

        It uses it's own proprietary modeling language as opposed to the more standard BPMN2.0 notation

        jBPM 5 uses BPMN 2.0 exclusively (though I imagine the process engine could support other languages as well). jBPM 4 also supports BPMN 2.0 though it was not the primary target.

        and a lot of the original developers left the project to start Activiti

        Yes it was certainly a sad lose that Tom and others went over to Activiti, but it's also great competition and hopefully we will end up with two great choices in the near future.

        it allows you to do 1 thing: model business processes

        That may only be one thing, but it is a very broad topic. In also allows you to model more than just business processes, it's pretty capable of modeling mo

  • very http://www.emlakeditor.com/ [emlakeditor.com] good
  • Is anyone else having problems posting book reviews to slashdot? I have tried four times in the last week and each time the book never shows up in the pending list of book reviews. The reviews have the bookrevew tag and the book review topic icon appears on the submission. The book details never show up on the preview of the submission or after I have pressed the "Save" submission button. I have read through the book review page several times, very carefully. There are several inaccuracies in the book

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