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Subject: RE: Questions for an article about ASAP/WfXML Demo

Title: RE: Questions for an article about ASAP/WfXML Demo

Happy to answer the questions.
My cell phone is 408 859-1005 if you need more clarification.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: David DeJean [mailto:ddejean@dejean.com]
> Sent: Friday, June 18, 2004 12:56 PM
> To: KSwenson@us.fujitsu.com
> Subject: Questions for an article about ASAP/WfXML Demo
> Mr. Swenson --
> I'm working on a piece for the CMP TechWeb Enterprise
> Applications Pipeline
> (http://www.enterpriseappspipeline.com) about the interoperability
> demonstration next week in San Francisco. I've seen the press
> releases and
> materials from OASIS. If you would be willing, I'd like to
> get responses
> from you to some questions that I could use as quotes in the story:
> 1. What's the history of WfXML been? I know the WfMC was
> founded in 1993
> and has supported a standard for workflow. Did that predate
> XML? Has the
> emergence of XML forced the WfMC to go back to the mat on its
> standard?

The architecture defined in 94 still stands today.  In that architecture an "interface 4" was defined to describe how workflow (and BPM) systems would interoperate at runtime.  In 1996 several members demonstrated interoperation using MIME encoding and SMTP messages.  In 1997 we define a CORBA standard interface for the same interface.  In 1998 we defined an XML based implementation called SWAP and (in 2000) Wf-XML 1.0.  Since this was before SOAP, we now find ourselves redefining again on top of SOAP.

> 2. A similar sort of history question: Which came first,
> WfXML or ASAP? How
> would you describe the relationship of the two?

SWAP really came first.  This link might be interesting:

We realized that parts of swap and Wf-XML were too workflow (and BPM) related, and that parts of it would be useful for a generic service.  For example, ASAP is useful for a grid service, without that grid service being a workflow service.  Seeing that ASAP would have wider applicability, we split the capability into two levels.  The generic part of this would be of interest to OASIS, so we took the work there, while WfMC would continue to hold up the workflow specific extensions.

> 3. What's the relationship of ASAP/WfXML and other Web
> services standards initiatives like WS-*?

ASAP is a specific fixed pattern of interaction with specific SOAP calls with well defined meanings.  It makes use most of the existing standards that support a given call: for example it uses XML, SOAP, WSDL, UDDI, WS-Security, WS-Reliability, WS-CAF, etc.  ASAP is a specific choreography.  BPEL is a programming language, and you can use BPEL to implement (or describe) the ASAP protocol.  We do not know of any standard that aims to do what ASAP does: provide a specific pattern of interaction that can be used to easily connect two systems.

Please don't get confused between "asynchronous service" and "asynchronous messaging".  A lot of people do before they understand it.  ASAP can use either synchronous or asynchronous messaging when you make the SOAP calls.  ASAP is not simply a single round trip: it can be many separate SOAP calls between the connected resources in order to keep the data in sync.  The point is that there is a long term service (e.g. a home purchase escrow process) and another long term service (e.g.a home mortgage application) that can be kept in sync over the life of both of these services.

> 4. How "real-world" is WfXML at this point -- what products
> support it, and how completely?

The purpose of the demonstration is to show that all the technology is available in Java, .Net, and other environments, to begin using the ASAP pattern today.

ASAP specification is at 'committee draft' and will need some number of months to become a standard.  You will start seeing products with early implementations coming soon.  Three vendors are participating in the demo (along with two open source initiatives).  The concepts have been supported for year.  For instance SAP and Staffware have implementations of the earlier Wf-XML 1.1 for years.  These were not widely used because without the assocaited security, reliability, and transactional standards which SOAP brings (and which were out of scope for the Wf-XML) it is hard to use widely.  This is the reason we are moving on to be on top of  SOAP so that these other important pieces will be available.  We believe that ASAP is ready for use to the same extent that the rest of SOAP infrastructure is ready for use.

> 5.  What should interested companies take away from the
> demonstration on Wednesday?

(1) two systems that support ASAP can be connected to each other by supplying a single URL and a table to map data fields from one to the other.  Everything else: how to pick up the metadata, how to create instances, how to update the initial data, how to check on status, and how to receive the results is defined by ASAP and the underlying SOAP standards.

(2) So far, choreography has been defined for programmers.  ASAP is used by systems administrators.  By building the interaction pattern into an application, ASAP can be used by a systems administrator to make the final connection between purchased applications.

> 4. What would next steps be for a company interested in WfXML?

We have a reference client/server that can be used to test implementations written in C# and running in .Net.  We also have the EasyASAP open source initiative that provides C++ source to implement ASAP.  Unfortunately our JAva open source project has not made as much progress, but we hope to see something there soon.  Companies should look to see if these project would give them an easy way to implement the protocol.

Concentrate on the basic ASAP level for now.  ASAP is well on toward being a standard, while Wf-XML, because it is built on top of ASAP, must lag a bit behind that (probably 9 months behind).

> If possible I'd like to hear from you by first thing Monday.
> I have noon
> deadline.
> I appreciate your help!
> -- David
> ---------------------------------
> David DeJean
> DeJean & Clemens
> 40 Schofield Dr.
> Newton, MA 02460
> ddejean@dejean.com
> 617-969-7054
> ---------------------------------

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