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The WfMC Heralds BPEL4WS Standards for Business Process Management Industry

Lighthouse Point, FL, USA. September 16, 2002.

The Workflow ManagementCoalition (WfMC) is pleased to note the activity of major vendors such as IBM and Microsoft in the development of process definition languages and tools that are critical to workflow and other system technologies. Both IBM and Microsoft are funding members of the WfMC and were early contributors to the workflow standards including those involving process definition.

The recently announced Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS) is a platform for executing business processes so that they can be more easily reused and integrated with other processes. The specification enables simple execution of such processes in a web services environment. The first review of BPEL4WS suggests that the proposal is compatible with IBM and Microsoft products and therefore the proposed standard may receive de-facto support through adoption of these vendors' products. It is also apparent that almost all the features of BPEL4WS are already represented in the WfMC XPDL specification. However, there are numerous additional capabilities in the WfMC standards, such as Wf-XML, which is the process execution standard, that were not found in the specification announced by Microsoft and IBM.

"We believe that the WfMC standards are consistent with, but go far beyond those recently announced by these vendors. WfMC standards have been available to members throughout their development. XPDL 1.0 beta, our latest process definition standard was downloaded over 1,000 times within a week of its announcement on August 7, so there is substantial worldwide interest in our work," said Jon Pyke, WfMC Chair and CTO Staffware Plc.

Five Functional Interfaces

The WfMC has identified five functional interfaces to a workflow service as part of its standardization program. The XPDL (XML Process Definition Language) specification forms part of the documentation relating to "Interface one" -- supporting Process Definition Import and Export. This interface includes a common meta-model for describing the process definition (this specification) and also an XML schema for the interchange of process definitions.

The WfMC is committed to support the users of workflow technology for all purposes. Workflow has evolved to move work between organizations including those in separate enterprises, beyond its initial role of managing the distribution of work between people. The Coalition focuses on both the function and content of those communications as well as the tools and languages (such as XML). Work will continue on the Coalition standards as well as liaison with organizations working in related technology areas such as BPMI (collaboration announced in June 2002). The WfMC will continue to be sensitive to the wider needs of the industry and if the new BPEL4WS facilities become a significant industry direction, the Coalition will extend its focus to include that approach.

About the Workflow Management Coalition

The WfMC, founded in August 1993, is a non-profit, international organization of workflow vendors, users, analysts and university/research groups. The Coalition's mission is to promote and develop the use of workflow through the establishment of standards for software terminology, interoperability and connectivity between workflow products. Consisting of over 300 members, spread throughout the world, the Coalition has become established as the primary standards body for this rapidly expanding software market.

The creation of a Standards Reference Model has proved its importance in other areas of technology, most notably the ISO Seven Layer reference model for computer communications.


Company: Workflow Management Coalition
Title: General Manager
Name: Layna Fischer,
Address: Lighthouse Point, FL - USA
Phone: 954 782 3376
Fax: 954 782 6365

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See: (1) "Workflow Management Coalition Publishes XML Process Definition Language (XPDL) Beta"; (2) "XML-Based Workflow and Process Management Standards: XPDL, Wf-XML"; (3) "Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS)."

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