Monday, April 05, 2010

Reporting in xProcess

The mechanism for defining custom reports in xProcess is straightforward. It uses "Actions" (expressions which use OGNL as the language for navigating the xProcess model) and the string returned by the Action is exported to a file with whatever file extension is appropriate. There are several examples delivered with the Simple Process which are worth exploring and maybe modifying if you need a specific type of report for your project. See "How to define a custom report in v3" for more details.

Recently with users defining larger reports on projects that have been running for multiple years a problem has emerged with this mechanism - out-of-memory errors. As the text for the report is held in its entirety in memory, prior to any of it being written to file, it is clearly not too difficult to define an Action that will fail in this way if you have a reasonably large data source. To see and comment on the technical solution proposed for this problem, see the wiki for the open source project here: https://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/xprocess/index.php?title=Core_Design. The new mechanism allows records to be written out one by one, but it will require reporting Actions to be rewritten to take advantage of the mechanism.

Watch this space for more details.

Update! See Tim's article on the new mechanism - http://xprocess.blogspot.com/2010/08/new-action-mechanism.html


Thursday, April 01, 2010

Powered-by-xProcess Applications

As discussions continue about opening up the xProcess world to other applications through the web services interface, it's worth considering the types of application this could enable. From an automatically scheduled to-do list on an i-Phone through to case-management support applications, the scope is of course boundless. But where are the quick wins? Most people who have seen the potential of xProcess, recognise that it's firstly in the context of supporting standard software engineering and project management processes such as Scrum, FDD, Prince and UP. The process definition gives teams access to standard patterns of tasks, if necessary with standard templates for associated artefacts and quality gateways. But processes are everywhere in the business landscape and if they are processes that need planning, resource allocation and forecasting, it may well be that the xProcess model provides just the foundation for powerful on-line support. Furthermore alternatives in this space are much less prevalent.

The web services interface means that full access to the underlying model will no longer be restricted to the Eclipse-based RCP client. Mash-ups which combine multiple sources of information can use the xProcess data source as the process and scheduling engine while application-specific views and data can be integrated seamlessly. If you've ideas for applications or would like to know how you can use the xProcess model for your project, do get in touch. The link to the Source Forge project is here: https://sourceforge.net/projects/xprocess/.