BPEL for Web Services Deserves Talking Up

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2006-05-15 Print this article Print

Analysis: No matter how you pronounce it, BPEL 2.0 makes simple work of complex expressions.

It sounds more dignified to say "bee-pell" than "bipple," but both are accepted pronunciations of BPEL, or Business Process Execution Language. The latter pronunciation is the one that Im hearing most when I talk with development toolmakers. And Im hearing it a lot.

Version 2.0 of the BPEL for Web Services specification is nearing public review following OASIS meetings this month. The 2.0 update, on track for approval by years end, makes BPEL more complete, even while it simplifies the developers view of code whose variables values can be complex XML expressions.

As those meetings were going on, I was being briefed by vendors that wanted to give me an early look at their forthcoming BPEL-based tools. Sun Microsystems BPEL editor for NetBeans, debuting at the May 15 NetBeans Software Day at JavaOne, generates a huge amount of tedious XML from a concise and intuitive process of laying out interactions in a visual editor and adding needed values for key parameters.
Its associated XML tools show some truly original thinking about visual interaction with large-scale XML schema. Developers should also try out Oracles free BPEL Designer.

Also important is the continuing progress of interoperability efforts such as those between Sun and Microsoft. The companies cooperation will soon give developers freedom to work with Web services partners using Microsofts Windows Communication Foundation (formerly "Indigo") or JAX-WSA (Java API for XML Web Services Addressing).

Ironically, the latter abstraction is so complete I found myself wondering what I could say about it as a reviewer—perhaps little more than, "It works. You cant tell whats happening under the hood, and you dont need to care." Devoutly to be wished.

Technology Editor Peter Coffee can be reached at peter_coffee@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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