Michael zur Muehlen has written a short article on “The Business Process Analytics Format (BPAF)“. This is a portable format that will allow the history events from multiple BPM servers to be aggregated together to a single process analytics server. It can be used to connect one vendor’s process engine to another vendor’s analytics server. This proposed standard will be a critical element for gaining insight into how well your processes are running, especially when you have workflow engines from multiple vendors in your enterprise.The concept is quite simple: every time an activity or a process changes state, a BPAF event record is created to represent it. The attributes of of the event objects are define with care to fit the widest number of existing engines, and it is based on some of the early work from the WfMC.
Michael is the lead author on the spec which is currently in public review. He points you to the WfMC Wiki in order to access the spec, and make comments on it.
I believe that BPAF is an important element in enabling internet scale distributed process support. We might call this “ubiquitous process support” because the idea is that there are many many process servers all working together. When you get all those servers each handling a small part of the process, you need to have a common format so that the changes in state of each of the separated process fragments can be brought together in one place so you can see the state of the overall process. I realize that this is somewhat visionary at this point, but it is a given that we will all be using distributed process engines in the future, possibly hosted in the cloud, and BPAF will play an important role there.
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Ken, I’ve been working on something you may be interested in seeing, specifically a RESTful web service for tracking process events that does, in fact, use the BPAF format.
I would love to hear more.
Keith, send me an email of get me through twitter and I can arrange a demo for you. I think you’ll really like the query API for getting analytics out of the event tracking.