JBoss.orgCommunity Documentation

Chapter 1. Overview

1.1. What is jBPM?
1.2. Overview
1.3. Core Engine
1.4. Eclipse Editor
1.5. Web-based Designer
1.6. jBPM Console
1.7. Documentation

jBPM is a flexible Business Process Management (BPM) Suite. It's light-weight, fully open-source (distributed under Apache license) and written in Java. It allows you to model, execute and monitor business processes, throughout their life cycle.

A business process allows you to model your business goals by describing the steps that need to be executed to achieve that goal and the order, using a flow chart. This greatly improves the visibility and agility of your business logic. jBPM focuses on executable business process, which are business processes that contain enough detail so they can actually be executed on a BPM engine. Executable business processes bridge the gap between business users and developers as they are higher-level and use domain-specific concepts that are understood by business users but can also be executed directly.

The core of jBPM is a light-weight, extensible workflow engine written in pure Java that allows you to execute business processes using the latest BPMN 2.0 specification. It can run in any Java environment, embedded in your application or as a service.

On top of the core engine, a lot of features and tools are offered to support business processes throughout their entire life cycle:

BPM makes the bridge between business analysts, developers and end users, by offering process management features and tools in a way that both business users and developers like it. Domain-specific nodes can be plugged into the palette, making the processes more easily understood by business users.

jBPM supports adaptive and dynamic processes that require flexibility to model complex, real-life situations that cannot easily be described using a rigid process. We bring control back to the end users by allowing them to control which parts of the process should be executed, to dynamically deviate from the process, etc.

jBPM is also not just an isolated process engine. Complex business logic can be modeled as a combination of business processes with business rules and complex event processing. jBPM can be combined with the Drools project to support one unified environment that integrates these paradigms where you model your business logic as a combination of processes, rules and events.

Apart from the core engine itself, there are quite a few additional (optional) components that you can use, like an Eclipse-based or web-based designer and a management console.

This figure gives an overview of the different components of the jBPM project. jBPM can integrate with a lot of other services as (and we've shown a few using grey boxes on the figure) but here we focus on the components that are part of the jBPM project itself.

  • The process engine is the core of the project and is required if you want to execute business processes (all other components are optional, as indicated by the dashed border). Your application services typically invoke the core engine (to start processes or to signal events) whenever necessary.
    • An optional core service is the history log, that will log all information about the current and previous state of all your process instances.
    • Another optional core service is the human task service, that will take care of the human task life cycle if human actors participate in the process.
  • Two types of graphical editors are supported for defining your business processes:
    • The Eclipse plugin is an extension to the Eclipse IDE, targeted towards developers, and allows you to create business processes using drag and drop, advanced debugging, etc.
    • The web-based designer allows business users to manage business processes in a web-based environment.
  • The Guvnor repository is an optional component that can be used to store all your business processes. It supports collaboration, versioning, etc. There is integration with both the Eclipse plugin and web-based designer, supporting round-tripping between the different tools.
  • The jBPM console is a web-based console that allows business users to manage their business processes (start new processes, inspect running instances), their task list and see reports.

Each of the components are described in more detail below.

The core jBPM engine is the heart of the project. It's a light-weight workflow engine that executes your business processes. It can be embedded as part of your application or deployed as a service (possibly on the cloud). It's most important features are:

The core engine can also be integrated with a few other (independent) core services:

The Eclipse editor is a plugin to the Eclipse IDE and allows you to integrate your business processes in your development environment. It is targeted towards developers and has some wizards to get started, a graphical editor for creating your business processes (using drag and drop) and a lot of advanced testing and debugging capabilities.

It includes features like:

  • Wizard for creating a new jBPM project
  • A graphical editor for BPMN 2.0 processes
  • Plugging in your own domain-specific nodes
  • Validation
  • Runtime support (so you can select which version of jBPM you would like to use)
  • Graphical debugging, to see all running process instances of a selected session, to visualize the current state of one specific process instance, etc.
  • Audit view to get an overview of what happened at runtime
  • Unit testing your processes
  • Integration with the knowledge repository

The web-based designer allows you to model your business processes in a web-based environment. It is targeted towards more business users and offers a graphical editor for viewing and editing your business processes (using drag and drop), similar to the Eclipse plugin. It supports round-tripping between the Eclipse editor and the web-based designer.

Optionally, you can use one or more knowledge repositories to store your business processes (and other related artefacts). The web-based designer is integrated in the Guvnor repository, which is targeted towards business users and allows you to manage your processes separately from your application. It supports:

Business processes can be managed through a web console. It is targeted towards business users and its main features are:

The documentation is structured as follows: