Azinta Systems Blog

January 8, 2012

Three Predictions for The Decision Model in 2012

Filed under: BPM, The Decision Model — Suleiman Shehu @ 20:25

It is now the time of the year when people who should know better try and make predictions about what will happen by end of 2012. For example many commentators are making predictions for; Will Greece still be in the Euro-zone? Will Obama win the election? Will China experience a property meltdown? To name but a few.

So although I should know better here are my three predictions for The Decision Model (TDM) in 2012.

The Decision Model Prediction 1

By the end of 2012 a low cost entry-level TDM modelling tool will exist that will enable modellers to create and validate that their TDM models comply with the TDM 15 principles. There is currently only one tool that has this capability and that is the heavy-weight Sapiens DECISION tool.  DECISION is designed for enterprise TDM modelling, life-cycle management and governance.

My reasons for an entry-level low cost TDM modelling tool are:

  • There are a large number of small to medium size companies who in the coming months and years would like to use TDM but who will not be able to afford heavy-weight tools such as Sapiens DECISION. Using Excel and Visio for TDM modelling is better than nothing but a modelling tool with proper validation would be much better.

  • Many departments in many large companies may still like to experiment  with TDM using a low-cost entry tool to get started and after the success of an initial TDM project move up to governance products such as Sapiens DECISION.

  • Having a low-cost or open source TDM modelling tool will empower many thousands to experiment on their own and drive the bottom-up adoption of TDM within organisations of all sizes.

The Decision Model Prediction 2

By the end of 2012 a low cost TDM model translator will exist that will be able to automatically convert high-level graphical TDM models into actual “business rules code” for a number of business rules engines. This tool will enhance the productivity of business rules programmers and ensure that Decision Models are converted without error into code that can execute within different rule engines.

For example I have an Entity Relationship Diagram tool on my desktop that I can use to model the relationships between entities. Then when I want to convert an ERD model to a relational database schema for a particular DBMS all I need to do is to select the target DBMS (e.g. Oracle, MySQL, etc) and the required database schema will be optimised and generated without any additional programming effort required.  Of course additional tuning could be conducted by the database designer.  I am looking for a similar capability with TDM models.

This TDM transformation tool should be able to generate code for both open source  rules engines such as Drools as well as proprietary rules engines from TDM models.

Of course this tool could be an option within the TDM prediction 1 tool.

This tool will enhance the value of enterprises using TDM to model their business logic in a technology independent way since when required the same TDM model can be automatically converted into any number of different types of rules engines.  Migrating between different rules engines will a a simple matter also being able to deploy the same TDM models to multiple environments whilst enhancing programmers productivity would be an additional plus for The Decision Model.

The Decision Model Prediction 3

From my perspective Business Decision Management = BPMN + TDM. It is therefore my prediction that by end of 2012 that a low-cost entry tool will exist that will enable business analysts and TDM modellers to model TDM  and BPMN models in an integrated modelling environment.

Lets not forget that actions required to be executed on completion of a TDM decision should be executed within a BPMN process model. See The Decision Model Book by Barbara von Halle and Larry Goldberg. Also for more information on the integration of TDM with BPMN process models see the BPMN guru Bruce Silver’s blog post http://www.brsilver.com/2010/01/05/integrating-process-and-rules-part-2/

Of course this integrated TDM/BPMN modelling option could exist as part of TDM modelling tool of TDM prediction 1.

How to make my TDM predictions come true in 2012

When I was growing up I used to love reading those American “how to do it”  (and they were always American) books on how to build a plane in your back garden; how to cast an car’s engine block and my favourite which I went on to do…How build an 8” mirror reflector telescope”.

Now as 2012 progress and  if you get tired of waiting for your favourite tool vendor to “see the light” and make one of my TDM 2012 predictions come true. Then you can always do it your self and here is my 7 steps for making one or more of my TDM predictions come true in 2012.

Step 1

Decide if your tool is going to be open source or a commercial offering. It is possible to have combined version. By that I mean that one could have a open source version of the tool that has some restrictions with a commercial version with no restrictions.  Also determine if all you want to implement is the TDM notation or if you want to implement all the 15 principles and the certification level you are seeking to achieve.

Step 2

Read the KPI The Decision Model Patent Usage policy statement at http://www.kpiusa.com/index.php/Patent/tdm-patent-use.html Contact KPI to arrange the required TDM license if you are looking to sell your tool or provide it as an open source product.

Step 3

Learn how to develop Domain Specific Languages (DSLs). DSLs are graphical and textual modelling languages that can be used to create graphical and textual modeling tools for any domain such as TDM and for transforming one model into another model or a model into code.

Three very good “how to do” books you should read. The first book is a “must read” book.  “Eclipse Modeling Project : A Domain-Specific Language (DSL) tool-kit” by Richard C Gronback.  This is a brilliant and highly recommended book and does not assume any prior DSL modelling experience.  The second book is “EMF Eclipse Modeling Framework” Second edition by Dave Steinberg, Frank Budinsky, et al. expands on the subject in the Cronback book and finally “Eclipse : Building Commercial-Quality Plug-ins” by Eric Clayberg. This is a required book on how to produce a quaility DSL as a plugin.

Step 4

Decide what tools are you going to use to create your DSLs and which of my 3 predictions are you looking to implement. My personal preference is to use tools based on the Eclipse Modeling Project which will enable you to create open source or commercial plugins for the hundreds of thousands of programmers who are using Eclipse for all their programming and modelling work.

Also most of the Eclipse toolkits that can support the development of DSLs are free. Have a look at http://www.eclipse.org/modeling/ and http://eclipse.org/modeling/emf/ There are a very large number of Eclipse modelling projects so a careful selection will be required and will depend on which of the three predictions that you want to implement (or all of them).  Eclipse modelling tools can be downloaded from http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/packages/eclipse-modeling-tools-includes-incubating-components/galileosr1 and there are other eclipse based implementation such as TOPCASED http://www.topcased.org/

Step 5

Develop a TDM metamodel. It should incorporate not only what is in the TDM book and in The Decision Model patent but all the additional TDM modelling features plus determine how you plan to perform the validation of the 15 TDM principles if this latter feature is to be incorporated within your tool.

Step 6

Create the abstract syntax, concrete syntax, graphical tool editors, TDM model to text generators, 15 principles validation suite, all the additional modelling editors required for the TDM prediction tool that you want to develop.

Step 7

Package your TDM TDM Modelling tool as a plugin ready for use in existing Eclipse based commercial or open source developers toolkit or as a stand-alone TDM modelling tool. Start selling your tool!!

So there you have it. I have told you what to do to make my three TDM predictions come true. What more can your ask from a prophet?

Of course I will also be monitoring the tool vendors and if I do not see any indications of work in this area soon then we at Azinta Systems may be forced to “throw our hat in the ring” to try and make at least one of our 2012 TDM predictions come true!

Suleiman Shehu

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