BPEL for Web Services Deserves Talking Up

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.