Q-Link does drag-and-drop Web services

Business process management player Q-Link Technologies Inc. this week built support for Web services into its development platform.

Q-Link's latest play enables users to incorporate a Web service into one of its graphical business process components, called Q-PACs (Q-Link Process Action Component), through a simple drag-and-drop procedure, according to Greg Wilson, CTO of Q-Link, in Tampa, Fla. The Web service is then integrated into the overall business process workflow.

"You can use a Web service to push or get information from another system, but that's it. It's really the rules capabilities of the workflow engine that tie it all together," Wilson said. "We can help a manufacturer take advantage of a Web service link to a supplier without them having to write code, by making it part of the business process."

Q-Link's Q-PAC development frameworks allow users to build a variety of component-based business processes, such as "notify manager" or "credit check," that trigger some underlying action such as sending an e-mail or accessing information in an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, company officials said. Q-PACs, which are reusable and graphical in nature, are strung together like building blocks to create one larger business process. Each icon can be changed and manipulated as well.

The Web Services Q-PAC is integrated into a business process at design time by dragging an icon into the process diagram. Q-Link's software then prompts a user through a UDDI registry search and automatically builds the interface that maps the Web services data into the business process. The Web service is then activated at run time.

According to one analyst, intertwining Web services with business processes holds great promise for business-to-business interactions.

"Really, the big benefit of Web services is not the coding-level integration, but the notion of exposing business processes to trading partners," said Joanne Friedman, industry analyst with Meta Group Inc. "The resulting applications are collaborative and focused on the development of something tangible and on combining business processes."

Web services support is available now in the Q-Link platform, which is a J2EE application supporting standards such as SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and XML, officials said.

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