On a call with Tom Baeyens last week, he told me about their decision to turn the engine and APIs of Effektif BPM into an open source project: not a huge surprise since he was a driver behind two major open source BPM projects prior to starting Effektif, but an interesting turn of events. When Tom launched Effektif two years ago, it was a bit of a departure from his previous open source BPM projects: subscription-based pricing, cloud platform, business-friendly tooling for creating executable task lists and workflows with little IT involvement, and an integrated development environment rather than an embeddable engine. In the past, his work has been focused on building clean and fast BPM engines, but building the Effektif user-facing tooling taught them a lot about how to make a better engine (a bit to his surprise, I think).
The newly-launched open source project includes the fully-functional BPM engine with Java and REST APIs; the REST APIs are a bit minimal at this point, but more will come from Effektif or from community contributions. It also includes a developer cloud account for creating and exporting workflows to an on-premise engine (although it sounds like you can create them in any standard BPMN editor), or process instances can be run in the cloud engine for a subscription fee (after a 30-day free trial). They will also offer developer support for a fee. Effektif will continue to offer the existing suite of cloud tools for building and running workflows at subscription pricing, allowing them to address both the simple, out-of-the-box development environment and the developer-friendly embeddable engine – the best of both worlds, although it’s unclear how easy it will be for both types of of “developers” to share projects.
This definitely puts Effektif back in direct competition with the other open source BPM projects that he has been involved with in the past – jBPM and Activiti (and, due to it forking from Activiti, Camunda) – since they all use a similar commercial open source business model, although Tom considers the newer Effektif engine as having a more up-to-date architecture as well as simpler end-user tooling. How well Effektif can compete against these companies offering commercial open source BPM will depend on the ability to build the community as well as continue to offer easy and compelling citizen developer tools.