On the train to work this morning, I was listening to the latest episode of Software Engineering Radio, which was an interview with business process management and workflow systems guru, Wil van der Aalst.
Even though I’ve been involved in several workflow-oriented software projects, I haven’t got much academic knowledge on the subject of process modelling. My involvement in said projects has primarily been about interviewing domain experts to understand “how things are done” in their organization, for then to distill this information into a graphical representation, usually in the form of swimlane diagrams. My graphical representations would then be used for reference when developing tailored software products.
Most of the concepts and tools that I use when working with domain experts, I have picked up by reading bits and pieces of Alec Sharp and Patrick McDermott’s book on Workflow Modeling on a “need-to-read basis.” I really should finish reading it; the pieces that I’ve read so far were very good. Time is a scarce resource.
To create my swimlane diagrams and other process models, I’ve used purely visual tools like Balsamiq, Lucidchart, Gliffy and even Adobe Illustrator. The programmer in me is embarrased to admit that it didn’t cross my mind to turn these diagrams into something executable…
I’m happy that I listened in on this podcast today, learned a thing or two about YAWL and other tools that I can turn my graphics into something verifiable and executable. This is definitely a path that I’m going to follow, at least for a little while, to see where it goes. In any case, this is a very interesting subject.