Consortium releases new business-process language

Looking to separate business processes from the applications in which they're imbedded, a technology industry consortium last Thursday released the Business Process Modeling Language (BPML) specification.

The language uses the tagging schema of XML and is designed to merge processes that run across multiple applications, corporate departments and business partners. The Business Process Management Initiative spent the past year formulating the language with members including Hewlett-Packard Co., Art Technology Group Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Tibco Software Inc.

Howard Smith, European chief technology officer IT consulting firm Computer Sciences Corp., helped draft the BPML specification and says it could unlock business processes much as Structured Query Language did in the 1980s for databases.

"It's the dynamics of the application," Smith said. "Until now, there's been no way to get a view of a business's entire processes, to link them, to layer them. BPML will allow us to run those processes independently of applications."

According to Smith, the goal for BPML is to allow collaborative e-commerce at a deeper, more integrated level than the current application interface model.

"[XML standards such as] RosettaNet and ebXML are more about trade," he said. "BPML is more about IT and how your business supports that trade."

He said he envisions a system where both languages would work side-by-side in a corporation's IT network.

Smith said the next step for BPML will be for vendors to start building it into their products and integrators to begin offering it to clients.

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