Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Publish Your (BPEL) Process

As sometimes silly things can take a disproportional amount of time, I thought I share with you what I found on documenting a BPEL process diagram.

Agile as I am (ahum) I try to prevent putting too much in written documentation as possible. The reason is obvious, in general after the initial publication documentation is hardly ever used again, and its expiry date passed before you know it. Among others, ways to prevent superfluous documentation are an iterative development involving end-users, simple but effective design, coding standards, effective naming strategy, and sufficient inline comments.

I think there will be not many occasions making it worthwhile to publish a BPEL process diagram, as developers rather open it in JDeveloper and other people probably will not understand it anyway. Actually, the only occasion I can think of is when you want to document how to create a BPEL process, like in a how-to, or like in my case, where I want to document how you can get from business processes via use cases to an actual implementation (in some posts to come more about this subject).

Anyway, if you feel the need for whatever reason, this is how you can do it.

Unlike the UML diagrams, for BPEL process diagrams there is not a menu option like Model -> Publish that you can use. In finding out how to do it I first tried the hard way of course, Googled on it and read online documentation to no avail. It was only then that I did the obvious and had a second, better look at the interface and found out a couple of "mystery buttons" at the top of the diagram. Of course, I had seen and actually used two of them before (for validation), but the others? Never gave them a thought.


Obviously there is a print button, but to the right of that sits a camera-shaped icon Create JPEG Image, which (surprise, surprise!) creates a JPEG image! There are a few other buttons
that makes me curious to find out what kind of people actually wants to use them, but also another one that I can picture to be useful, which is the pallet-shaped icon "Diagram Properties".


This pops up a window with various options to "optimize" the diagram (still need to find out what that means, as trying it did everything but that), options for coloring, and so on. An interesting option is the possibility to add annotations that (as the online help states) "provide descriptions in activities in the form of code comments and name and pair value assignments". If you have experience with that, drop me a comment as I sure would like to know.

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