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XPDL 1.0

WfMC Announces Release of Workflow Standard XML Process Definition Language (XPDL 1.0)

Lighthouse Point, FL, USA. December 10, 2002.

The Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC) is pleased to announce the release of the Workflow Standard -- XML Process Definition Language -- XPDL 1.0. Together with other WfMC standards, XPDL provides a framework for implementing business process management and workflow engines, and for designing, analyzing, and exchanging business processes. XPDL is the culmination of a 15-month effort by multiple vendors and users to provide a standard that satisfies the needs of diverse organizations.

"The release of this proven XML-based specification provides organizations with a common framework," said Jon Pyke, Chair of the WfMC and CTO, Staffware Plc. "Adoption of this standard will enhance the availability, quality and timeliness of management information regardless of location and technology deployed."

Edited and coordinated on behalf of the WfMC by Mike Marin (FileNET), Roberta Norin (Terrace Software), and Robert Shapiro (Cape Visions), XPDL 1.0 offers the following features:

  • XPDL is based on the WfMC workflow reference model, a recognized workflow standard

  • It includes application integration and resource specification

  • XPDL is extendable, allowing the addition of elements and attributes as well as the import of datatypes and operations that are defined in other specifications

  • It provides a natural fit with graphical representations of business processes

  • It offers continuity with earlier versions of the specification

One of the key elements of the XPDL is its extensibility to handle information used by a variety of different tools. Based upon a limited number of entities that describe a workflow process definition (the "Minimum Meta Model"), the XPDL supports a number of differing approaches.

XPDL 1.0 uses the popular XML language to describe a business process. A process defined in XPDL (a set of XML statements) can be imported into any workflow engine that supports XPDL. The related objects and attributes (data associated with the process) are now also included in the XPDL process definition. The XPDL process definition can be generated by workflow modeling and simulation tools, or can be manually coded, or can be exported from another XPDL-compliant workflow engine.

This approach needs two operations to be provided by a vendor who can use a XSL style sheet to comply with these two operations.

  • Import a workflow definition from XPDL
  • Export a workflow definition from the vendor's internal representation to XPDL

This specification is intended for use by software vendors, system integrators, consultants and any other individual or organization concerned with the design, implementation, and analysis of business process management systems as well as with interoperability among workflow systems. Furthermore, it will be of value to those concerned with the design and implementation of integrated and/or distributed systems, as a protocol for the interaction of generic (possibly remote) services.

Described as Document WfMC-TC-1025, the full specification has been published on the Companion CDROM to the Workflow Handbook 2002, which was recently launched. It may also be downloaded from the Coalition's website at:

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 the rapidly expanding business process management market.


Layna Fischer, General Manager
Workflow Management Coalition
2436 N. Federal Highway #374
Lighthouse Point, FL 33064 USA
Tel: +1 954 782 3376

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See references in XML-Based Workflow and Process Management Standards: XPDL, Wf-XML."

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