Oracle Tutor: XPDL conversion (and why you should care)
By mkeane on Dec 29, 2010
You may have noticed that the Oracle Business Process Converter feature in Tutor 14 supports "XPDL" conversion to Oracle Business Process Analysis Suite (BPA), Oracle Business Process Management Suite (BPM), and Oracle Tutor, and you may have briefly wondered "what is XPDL?" before you moved on to the Visio import feature (a very popular feature in Tutor 14).
This posting is for those who do not yet understand (or care) about XPDL and process modeling. Many of us (and I'm including myself) have spent years working in the process definition arena: we've written procedures, designed systems and software to help others write procedures, and have been responsible for embedding policies and procedures into training material for employees. We've worked with tools such as Oracle Tutor, Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Word, and UPK. Most of us have never worked with "modeling tools" before, and we certainly never had to understand BPMN.
It's a brave new world in this arena, and companies desperately need people with policy and procedural system expertise to be able to work with system analysts so there is a seamless transfer of knowledge from IT to employees. When working with applications, a picture is worth a thousand words, so eventually you're going to need to understand and be able to work with business process models.
XPDL is an acronym for XML Process Definition Language, and it is an interchange format for business process models. It allows you to take a BPMN model that was developed in one workflow application such as BizAgi and import it into another workflow application or a true BPMN management system such as Oracle BPM. Specifically, the XPDL format contains the graphical information of a model as well as any executable information. By using a common format, models can be moved from a basic modeling application used by business owners to applications used by system architects.
Over 80 applications support the XPDL format, including MetaStorm ProVision, BEA ALBPM, BizAgi, and Tibco. I mention these applications because we have provided XSLT mapping files specifically for these vendors. Oracle Business Process Converter was designed with user extensibility in mind, and thus users can add their own XML files so that additional XPDL models from other vendors can be converted to BPM, BPA, and Oracle Tutor. Instructions on how to add your own files can be found in Appendix 4 of the Oracle Business Converter manual.
Let's take a visual look at how this works. Here is an example of a model devloped in BizAgi:
This model can be created by the average business user without a large learning curve, and it's a good start for the system analyst who will be adding web services as well as for the business manager who manages the process described in the model. By exporting this model as XPDL, the information can be converted into Oracle BPA and Oracle BPM as well as converted to Oracle Tutor to become the framework for a procedure. Through this conversion feature, one graphic illustration of a business process can be used by a system analyst, business analyst, business manager, and employee, as seen below.
Model Converted to Tutor Procedure
Below is the task section of the procedure after conversion from an XPDL file.
Model converted to BPA
Model converted to BPM
End users still want step by step instructions on how to perform their jobs, so procedures (Oracle Tutor) and application simulations (UPK) are still a critical piece of the solution. But IT professionals need graphic descriptions of how the applications work, regardless of whether there are any tasks involving humans. Now there is a way to convert procedures (Oracle Tutor docx files) and basic models (XPDL files) so that business managers and system analysts can share process information.
- Wikipedia XPDL.
- Workflow Management Coalition, XPDL Support and Resources
- Oracle Business Process Converter manual, Oracle Tutor 14
- Oracle Business Process Management 11g
If you have any XPDL conversion stories to share, we'd love to hear from you.
Best wishes for the coming new year,
Mary Keane, Senior Development Manager, Oracle Tutor and BPM