In March 2007 I wrote an entry called “The Tipping Point for XPDL” where I mentioned among other things that 8 of the top 11 BPM vendors support XPDL. Since that time XPDL has moved forward by adding support for BPMN 1.2 as well as compatibilities levels and conformance tests.
The vendors have moved forward as well. At the time I listed Adobe, Appian, Oracle (BEA/Fuego), Fujitsu, Global 360, IBM (FileNet), Pegasystems, & TIBCO as supporting XPDL. I was not aware at the time that Savvion had XPDL support. Metastorm added XPDL support in April 2008. And now Lombardi has released support for XPDL (see Bruce Silver). That completes the list.
As explained before, XPDL is a format for process definition interchange, it does not force a particular process model on the execution environment. The benefit of XPDL comes from exchange of the design of the process.
So I had to run a small test … quickly got a free trial account on BluePrint, drew up a nonsense process that looked like this:
I then import into Fujitsu’s Interstage BPM without any hitches, renamed some arrows, and got the following:
What you see as differences are mostly superficial differences in the ways the tools interpret the gray areas of the BPMN spec. For example BPMN does not have a concept of “milestone”, and I can’t explain why the swim lanes did not make it, but overall this was a huge success. Look at it this way: if you had spent hours documenting a process with activity names, descriptions, and connecting arrows — most of what composes a process — you would have all that preserved and logically the same as the original.
The next step then for XPDL is to raise the bar, and to assure a level of interchange between products at a finer level of detail. At the very least we need assurance that a particular diagram will be represented the same way. This is done with the help of the conformance testing tools which are under development.