The visual modeling editor of the Oslo platform is now available for community technology preview (CTP). Since the first Oslo CTP half a year ago, the focus of the public discourse has been the textual language M, taking a programmers’ perspective, focusing on the design of textual domain specific languages and repository database structures. For those of us more interested in visual modeling and a new paradigm for model-driven applications, it has been a long wait.

This post summarizes early experiences from playing with Quadrant. Its user interface is novel, uniform, and functional, but a bit cumbersome, and as an early preview it exposes a lot of the underlying wiring, nuts and bolts. Interesting features are the combination of textual and graphical views, and the use of multiple layers for zoom and navigation. Some functionality is well supported, such as customizing views and interacting with large models in multiple workpads. On the other hand, services for e.g. relationship modeling are poor. The current scope of Quadrant is limited to visualizing and editing instance data. Metamodeling and definition of new extents (storage areas) must be done in the Intellipad text editor. Read the rest of this entry »

Earlier this year, Henk De Man of Cordys published two papers on case management at bptrends, one about different modeling approaches, and another about the approach taken by Cordys. This contribution has also been submitted to the OMG as an answer to their dynamic business activity modeling RFI. I recommend these papers to anyone interested in flexible BPMS, and applaud the company for making this information public. These descriptions represent the best I have seen from any vendor in this field.

Our active knowledge architecture approach is well aligned with this proposal from Cordys, though our emphasis is the complex creative and artistic human-interaction processes that are typically organized in projects. Projects are larger and more complex than cases, requiring multi-dimensional modeling and continuous elaboration of project plans as instance level process models. This post explores similarities between case management and process-oriented knowledge architectures, and proposes some additional use cases and solutions that we believe would make case management simpler and more useful for a wider range of dynamic business activities. Rather than defining new languages for different kinds of processes, we believe that a common process modeling core standard should support dialects (or profiles) for different modeling scenarios, such as “BPMN for standard BPMS”, “case management”, and “project planning and execution”. Read the rest of this entry »

A previous post outlined some reasons why we think data modeling and semantic approaches are poorly suited for developing common data models across applications, disciplines, functions, and organizations. In particular, we argue that formal, precise representations makes it difficult to discuss terms before we have agreed upon a common language. Another problem is class hierarchies, which typically are local to a community. Enforcing a single classification structure in a common model can alienate stakeholders who have a different way of seeing things. Finally, visual models are preferred over textual representations because they more easily work as a neutral common ground, avoiding terminology wars.

This post introduces a modeling methodology that utilizes knowledge architectures to arrive at integrated information and data architectures. By following this approach, you create a conceptual knowledge model, which is suitable for interdisciplinary, cross-functional and cross-organizational communication. The methodology outlines the steps involved in creating common understanding, and some modeling principles that should be followed.

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An integrated data model can connect the applications, functions, and disciplines of a company. It can be a foundation for service oriented architectures, business process automation, and master data management. The process towards establishing an integrated model can be long and winding. While data modeling methodologies are suitable for documenting the end result of this process, they may hinder more than facilitate its progress. In particular, prematurely introducing a precise common representation, may alientate groups of stakeholders, leading to a “common” model with a bias towards a few perspectives. An approach more adjusted to group dynamics and social learning is needed. Physical data models and logical information models should be complemented by conceptual knowledge models. This post presents some of the challenges involved, while a later post outlines a knowledge architecture approach to integrating data models. Read the rest of this entry »

Innovative design is the most important competitive factor for global engineering and manufacturing. Critical challenges include cutting lead times for new products, increasing stakeholder involvement, facilitating life-cycle knowledge sharing, service provisioning, and support. Current IT solutions for product lifecycle management fail to meet these challenges because they are built to perform routine information processing, rather than support agile creative work.

Active knowledge modeling is a family of methodologies that address this situation, utilizing model-driven application platforms. This post presents an overview of different methodologies applied to implement pragmatic and powerful design platforms, by building and utilizing active knowledge architectures (AKA).

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My first impression of Microsoft Oslo and the M modeling language was quite positive. In particular, their approach seemed to take better care of instances than e.g. UML does, and I applauded the use of extents (instance collections) rather than types to represent repository database tables.

Upon closer examination, however, some doubts appeared. The syntax seems unneccesarily complex, and the repository and M representations goes out of synch with regard to such basic functions as subtyping and the identity of the instances. This post proposes some adjustments to simplify M and better align the visual, textual and repository representations of Oslo.   Read the rest of this entry »

Several languages have been proposed for business process modelling. Though most of them follow the conventional representation of processes as a series of steps, they emphasize different aspects of processes and related structures, such as organizations, products, and data. Consequently, they are suited for different kinds of processes. Even if you are determined to use a particular technique, knowledge of alternative approaches can still guide the modelling, by surfacing complementary points of view. In addition to the common transformational process models, this post discusses block structured languages, storytelling, and process modeling languages that are hierarchical, flow-oriented, role-oriented, communication-oriented, declarative, goal-oriented, timelines, product and document state machines etc. Read the rest of this entry »