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ECOOP' 98 Workshop on OO Process Modeling  
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International Workshops on Business Process Modeling, Development and Support (BPMDS)

1st BPMDS Workshop on Object-Oriented Business Process Modeling

Brussels, Belgium, Monday, July 20th, 1998

The Workshop will be held in conjunction with the 12th European Conference on Object-Oriented Programming.

Agenda

The workshop is open for everyone who attends the conference. Please contact the organizers before the workshop starts to ensure that there are enough chairs available. For conference registration, please see ECOOP registration page.


Abstract

The workshop would continue the discussions on applicability of OO to business processes modeling which were started during "Workshop on Modeling Software Processes and Artifacts" (ECOOP’97), and "Workshop on Business Modeling for OO Systems" (OOPSLA’97). Though, the traditional object-oriented approach doesn’t fit the task of business processes representation very well, object-orientation looks promising for the field. This time, we want to concentrate the discussion on what kind of object-orientation would be adequate for business processes. The main topics include (but are not limited to) the following: (a) importance for a business model to be independent from the system, and especially from the way the latter is being implemented; (b) features of business processes that require special consideration in an object-oriented model (e.g.: history, planning, nondeterminism, etc.); (c) set of notions needed for representing business processes in an object-oriented manner. We would like to see our workshop as a meeting of technicians with professionals in business processes analysis and development who could verify the correctness of formal approaches to business processes representation.

Call for Participation

Object-Oriented Business Process Modeling? All three notions: modeling, object-orientation, and business processes, are the hottest issues of modern business application development.

1. Modeling

We believe that the only way to develop a sound business application is by constructing first a clearly defined model of the application domain. This model should possess its own value, and it should be independent from the application, and especially from the way the latter is being implemented (traditional approach, OO, Agent-based, etc.).

2. Object-oriented Approach to Modeling

Object-oriented programming proved to be powerful enough to code any software system. In recent years, this approach has been also used for design of object-based application systems, technical, as well as nontechnical, i.e. business applications. Even if this approach might be acceptable for the technical system design, it’s not intuitive and hence is not appropriate for designing interactive business applications. In the latter, the software objects represent physical objects of the application domain (companies, people, etc.), and business processes. Behavior of those kind of objects doesn’t correspond to the one of objects from the object-oriented programming paradigm. The common result of using this paradigm to business modeling is an employee object that has a method of calculating it’s own salary, which doesn’t make any sense from the application domain point of view.

Nevertheless, a more abstract notion of object as a persistent dynamic entity with links to other entities may become an adequate modeling tool.

3. Business processes

Data modeling was the main issue of the previous generation of business applications. Process modeling is the core issue of the emerging one. Objects that represent business processes posses some distinctive features that require special consideration in an object-oriented model, e.g.:

They are history based. It’s not always possible to calculate the reaction on the event based only on the current state of the object. Evaluation of the past states may be required. Of course, there is a way around the problem, to save all the relevant historic information in the current state. However, this method has two drawbacks. First, it’ll make the object structure difficult to understand. Second, and more important, at the design start, it’s not clear what historic information is important, and what’s not. Besides, any application undergo changes during its lifetime, and having the history saved may allow to change old actions and add new ones without objects restructuring.

They are human assisted. It’s not always possible for a business process to react on the event without a human being’s help. This adds an additional dimension to the object model. Human resources should be represented in the model in order to deal with the task of human resources assignment, e.g. which person(s) should assist in completing the action for the particular object processing the particular event.

They are nondeterministic. None of a business model can reflect the whole complexity of the application domain. There always be some information left outside the model that need to be considered when deciding on and performing actions.. This nondeterminism may be of two kinds:

Their actions may evolve in time. The actions included in the business process define the way of how the corresponding business process should evolve in time by undergoing transitions from one legitimate state to another. The lifetime of the business process may be very long, and the variety of ways of its evolution may be difficult to grasp at the design start. The one possible way of modeling this is by including in the notion of object state not only passive data, but actions as well. This allows to define actions which can change not only passive elements of the object structure, but the actions currently residing in the object..

They are time-based. An event can be raised when a certain time condition is fulfilled without any external message being received. Of course, this can be emulated by timer objects sending messages to the business process objects. However, it’ll make the object structure too complicated.


So, those are the main topics around which the organizers would like to concentrate discussions on the workshop.

Naturally enough, we have our own ideas about how business processes can be modeled. In few words they can be summarized as follows. In the traditional approach to object-oriented programming objects are "active", while relations between them are "passive". The activeness of an object reveals itself when the object invokes a method (function) as a reaction on a message from another object (or itself). While this model is suitable for some tasks, like arranging interactions between windows, widgets and the end-user in a typical GUI environment, it’s not appropriate for business modeling. In this domain, relations between conceptual objects are at least as important as objects themselves, and the more appropriate model for this field would be the one where relations are "active" while objects are "passive".


Organizers

1. Ilia Bider <ilia@ibissoft.se> - Main Contact IbisSoft ab
Box 19567
SE-104 32 Stockholm
Sweden
voice: +46 8 15 10 10

Ilia Bider is a cofounder and Technical director of IbisSoft (Stockholm). He has MS in Computer science, and combined experience of over twenty years of research (in the fields of computational linguistics, databases, and OO), and practical work (design, coding, software sales, and marketing) in 5 counties (Norway, Russia, Sweden, UK, US).

2. Maxim Khomyakov <maxim@mag7.ulter.msk.su> Magnificent Seven
1-st Baltiyskiy per. 6/21-3
Moscow
Russia
Voice: +7 095 155 81 73

Maxim Khomyakov is a cofounder and President of Magnificent Seven (Moscow). He has Ph.D. in Mathematics, thirty years of research (in the fields of mathematical linguistics, logic, and OO), and 9 years of software business development.

Selected papers connected to the workshop topics

I.Bider, M.Khomyakov, E.Pushchinsky. Logic of Change: Semantics of Object Systems with Active Relations. Presentation for ICSE 98 Workshop on Precise Semantics for Software Modeling Techniques (PSMT)

I.Bider, M.Khomyakov. One Practical Object-Oriented Model of Business Processes. In Klimov H., Rumpe B., Simmonds I., eds., OOPSLA’97 Workshop on Object-oriented Behavioral Semantics. Institute Für Informatic. Technische Universität München, 1997, TUM-19737, pp. 25- 31.

I.Bider, M.Khomyakov.. One OO Approach to Business Modeling. Presentation on OOPSLA’98 Workshop 28 Business Modelling for OT Systems

I.Bider. Organizing Systems - a Tool for a Process-Oriented Management (Internal Memo. Stockholm 1992). Published by Aurbach in Data Base Management under the name Developing Tool Support for Process-Oriented Management.

I.Bider. ObjectDriver - a Method for Analysis, Design and Implementation of Interactive Object- and Time-oriented Systems (Internal Memo. Stockholm 1991). Published by Aurbach in Data Base Management under the name ObjectDriver - a Method for Analysis, Design and Implementation of Interactive Applications.


Important Dates

    Deadline for submission:    May   29th, 1998
    Notification of acceptance: June  10th, 1998
    Final version:              June  29th, 1998
    Day of workshop:            July  20th, 1998
Please note that workshop participants must register at least on that day of the ECOOP conference. Deadline for early registration for the ECOOP'98 conference is Friday, June 19th.

Submissions

Prospective workshop participants are invited to submit a position paper related to one of the main topics, or an experience report which describes positive or negative experience in using any kind of business process modeling. A selected number of these papers will be presented during the workshop and submissions will be made available from a WWW site in advance. The workshop's materials will be later published in the ECOOP'98 edition of Workshop Reader.

We would very much like to see among the attendees not only technicians but also professionals in business processes analysis and development. We need your help to verify correctness of proposed formal approaches to business processes presentation.

Submissions (no more than 5 pages) should be sent by e-mail to ilia@ibissoft.se by May 29th in any of the following formats: HTML, ASCII, MSWord (please mention version and platform). HTML submissions are preferred.


Related Workshops

A number of other workshops at ECOOP'98 will be devoted to the becoming more and more popular theme of using object-oriented techniques in business applications development. However, different workshops have different main focus. Ours is focused on formal presentation of business processes. Others are focused on tool support for business rules, and formal business specifications. For more information, see:
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