BPM Think Tank Day 1: ebBP (aka BPSS)

I’m in the BPM Think Tank pre-conference workshop on ebXML BPSS (Business Process Specification Schema), relabelled no less cryptically as ebBP (eBusiness Business Process, with the “specification schema” implied), presented by Sally St. Amand of the OASIS ebBP Technical Committee. St. Amand is obviously very knowledgable on the subject matter, but is a less-than-engaging speaker — call it the bureaucratic style of presentation, full of long pauses and paper shuffling.

According to the TC’s site:

The ebBP is a technical business process specification. It defines a standard language so that business systems can be configured to support the execution of business collaborations between partners or collaborating parties rather than the processing accomplished from the perspective of one business partner. The formal designation has been eBusiness eXtensible Markup Language (ebXML) Business Process Specification Schema (BPSS). It is more commonly known as ebBP (after the OASIS ebXML Business Process Technical Committee).

In other words, ebBP is an execution language for business collaboration between peers, like most eBusiness (and EDI) specifications before it, although it also allows for non-first-class participants (such as others in the supply chain) who may wish to observe the state of the process at certain points. In its basic format, it’s very similar to other XML-based eBusiness specifications that I’ve seen, usually from vendors; these vendor-provided specifications will hopefully migrate towards the ebBP standard as V2.0.X is adopted. The benefit of including observer participants became really obvious in a diagram of an eBusiness exchange that includes an observer: the message flow can include messages to the observer at any time, rather than just between the two main participants, although only the first-class participants can initiate the signals.

ebBP specifies the XML format, but does not include any graphical representation or modelling. There is an open source ebBP editor, which I’ve downloaded but haven’t tried out yet.

Working this into the general standards landscapte, ebBP is a choreography language for collaboration between different organizations, whereas BPEL is an orchestration language for processes that are controlled by one organization (although may execute across organizations).

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