The Feature Pack adds a lot of exciting new functionality and also includes bug fixes for issues reported since the last release. Let’s take a quick look at the new features.
Composer – Versioning, Collaboration, Usability
Process Composer gets a major overhaul in this release and adds a lot of new features for collaboration and versioning. It is also much easier to use and nicer to look at!
Alter Flow (Grab) and Instance Migration
The ‘Grab’ feature in 10g reappears as ‘Alter Flow’ in this release. This feature allows an adminsitrator or process owner to stop a process instance and arbitrarily move to another point in the process. They can also modify data in the process, and the restart from the new location. Many 10g customers have been asking for this feature.
This release also allows you to make changes to a running version of a process. This addresses a problem where it was hard to fix small errors in your processes – you could not redploy the same version without causing all the running instances to become stale, and if you deployed a new version, then you had no way of migrating those running instances to the new version of the process. Now, you can redploy a version of the process (as the same version) and keep the running instances, which will ‘migrate’ to the newly deployed version. If any cannot be migrated automatically, they will be ‘grabbed’ and stopped, and you will need to manually release them.
Correlations and Conversations
The Feature Pack adds full support for correlation and conversation support to BPMN processes, meaning that you can easily implement use cases like calling n instances of a subprocess – one for each element in an array – and consolidate the results.
Parametric Roles – OU based and Org Roles
Another 10g feature that is now appearing in 11g is parametric roles. This allows you to define process roles based on organisation structure and other information stored in the directory, giving a lot more flexibility in role mapping and supporting use cases like ‘a manager in the Sales department.’
Sticky User and Exclude Users (4-eye)
Two new workflow patterns allow you to allocate human (interactive) tasks to the user who processed previous tasks in the same process instance (sticky user) or to exclude that user to ensure that two different people process two tasks. This allows you to easily support use cases like ensuring a different person requests and approves purchase orders.
Comments, Attachments, UCM Integration
This release allows you to (optionally) store comments and attachments in Oracle WebCenter Content (formerly known as Oracle Universal Content Management), meaning that you can apply all of the content management practices and capabilities to attachments in processes, like versioning, automatic creation of renditions, records management and so on.
We now provide an out of the box user interface (in the BPM Workspace) for Activity Guides, which allow process participants to see where they are in a process (in terms of the milestones and tasks, not the process diagram) and what remains to be done. This makes it a lot easier for people to understand their progress through a process.
Rule Testing and Audit Trail
We have added more capabilities to test Business Rules and also a much more detailed audit trail for rule execution.
Notification and Task Update Activities
New activities have been added to the palette to allow you to update a task status, or send a notification directly from a BPMN process. This means that you do not need to call an API or hand off this work to a BPEL process as we saw people doing in previous releases.
New Data Association Editor
The Data Association Editor has been greatly improved to make it easier to define data mappings. It is also almost the same as the one used in BPEL reducing the complexity of learning two slightly different ways of doing essentially the same thing.
A number of predefined variables are now available, which make it easy to do a number of common process instance manipulation use cases we have been seeing like getting the process instance ID, updating the title of the process instance, etc.
Easier Development – Draft Mode and Log Messages
We have added the ability to include log messages in your process which should make it easier to debug your processes. Again, this is a 10g feature appearing in 11g for the first time.
We have also added a ‘draft’ capability which allows you to mark an activity as being draft. This allows you model it using the correct activity type, but the system will no complain that you have not implemented it yet. This will make it a lot easier to deploy and test processes when you have only implemented part of them.
Round trip Simulation and BI integration
At long last, you can now pull data from BAM back to JDeveloper and use it to run simulations of process models.
We have also added capabilities to automatically generate views and collect data to make integation with external (Oracle or third party) BI tools much simpler.
Process documentation generation
You can now generate process documentation right from the process model and output it in various formats.
Oracle Workflow Import
This release includes some capabilities to import Oracle Workflow processes into Oracle BPM. Just the activities/flow though, not the whole thing! Look for more in the future.
Well, that’s the highlights! Look out for more detailed posts on many of these coming soon.