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Analysis

OpenRules release new version
Simon Holloway By: Simon Holloway, Practice Leader - Process Management & RFID, Bloor Research
Published: 8th October 2012
Copyright Bloor Research © 2012
Logo for Bloor Research

OpenRules Inc have released a new version (Release 6.2.2) of their open source Business Decision Management System. Some of you may not have heard of OpenRules before so let me give you a bit of background before talking about the new release.

OpenRules, Inc. is a New Jersey-based corporation founded by Dr. Jacob Feldman in February 2003. The company's original name, Intelligent ChoicePoint, Inc., was changed to OpenRules, Inc. in December 2003 when the OpenRules product was made publicly available for the first time. OpenRules is a BDMS (Business Decision Management System) available as an Open Source product. It allows business analysts to create a Business Rules Repository to be used across an enterprise as a foundation for rules-based applications with business, processing, and presentation logic. The product is a combination of Microsoft Excel, Eclipse IDE, and Google Docs, backed by OpenRules software. Customers include Thomson Reuters, Commerzbank, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS), Blue Shield of California, AXA Paris and the European Patent Office.

Figure 1: Open Rules Architecture (Source: OpenRules)

OpenRules provides many predefined decision tables for representation of decisions, glossaries, rule families, and various data tables. A user may customize the existing tables and create custom decision tables using a powerful rule template mechanism. Rule templates allow rule designers to write the rules logic once and use it many times.

Microsoft Excel can be used as a rules editor and also a webs form editor. Alternative rules editors are OpenOffice or Google Docs. Forms drawn in Excel spreadsheets are automatically translated into HTML pages. OpenRules provides an Eclipse Plug-in that enables debugging, rules versioning and Web Service deployment.

OpenRules BDMS includes a component called Rule Solver. This uses Constraint Programming (CP) techniques to model and solve scheduling, resource allocation, configuration, and other constraint satisfaction and optimization problems. It is based on the CP standard JSR-331 and allows a user to switch between different open source JSR-331compliant constraint solvers without any changes in the decision models.

OpenRules relies on proven open source tools/libraries created and maintained by different open source contributors. The downloadable OpenRules software includes copies of related freely distributed 3rd party products in accordance with their open source licenses. OpenRules, Inc. backs all included tools through its Technical Support and related Consulting Services. 

OpenRules also offers add-on components including:

  • ORD (OpenRules Dialog) allows non-technical people to develop and maintain web-based questionnaires (dialogs) using only Excel and without a need to learn complex web programming techniques;
  • Rule Compressor is a special add-on that uses an integrated machine learning and business rule approach to automatically compress complex classification rules;
  • Pdfgen (PDF Generator) is an add-on for the rules-based generation of PDF documents.

So that gives you the background on OpenRules and its BDMS product. Release 6.2.2 adds new features that allow a user to customize decisions and decision tables:

  • Add custom actions during decision initialisation and for every run of the same decision;
  • Create custom decision tables and templates that deal with application-specific concepts.

Release 6.2.2 includes:

  • A new OpenRules Engine that is used by Java applications and web applications configured to work with different application servers like Tomcat or WebLogic and web development frameworks like Spring
  • An improved and better documented OpenRules API
  • New practical examples of dynamic rules-based web applications. 

For anyone looking at away of implementing a business rules system to handle definition of rules and their implementation, OpenRules looks very interesting and worth looking at further.

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