Test Driven Modeling

In today’s prevalent dynamic business environment, the economic success of an enterprise depends on its ability to react to various changes like shifts in customer’s attitudes or the introduction of new regulations and exceptional circumstances [1, 2]. Process-Aware Information Systems (PAISs) offer a promising perspective on shaping this capability, resulting in growing interest to align information systems in a process-oriented way [3, 4]. Yet, a critical success factor in applying PAISs is the possibility of flexibly dealing with process changes [1]. To address the need for flexible PAISs, competing paradigms enabling process changes and process flexibility have been developed, e.g., adaptive processes [5,6], case handling [7], declarative processes [8], data driven processes [9] and late binding and modeling [10] (for an overview see [11]).

All these approaches relax the strict separation of build-time (i.e., modeling) and run-time (i.e., execution), which is typical for plan-driven approaches as realized in traditional Workflow Management Systems. By closely interweaving modeling and execution the approaches mentioned above allow for a more agile way of planning. In particular, users are empowered to defer decisions regarding the exact control-flow to run-time, when more precise information becomes available.

Depending on the concrete approach, planning and execution are interwoven to different degrees, resulting in different levels of decision deferral. The highest degree of decision deferral is fostered by Late Composition [1] (e.g., as enabled through a declarative approach) which describes activities that can be performed as well as constraints prohibiting undesired behavior. A declarative approach, therefore, is particularly promising for dynamic and unpredictable processes [8]. The support for partial workflows [12] allowing users to defer decisions to run-time [11], the absence of over-specification [8], and more maneuvering room for end users [8] can be all considered as advantages commonly attributed to declarative processes. Although the benefits of declarative approaches seem rather evident, they are not widely adopted in practice yet. Declarative processes are only rudimentarily supported and integrated process lifecycle support has not been in place yet, while methods and tools for supporting imperative processes are rather advanced (e.g., [13]).

Reasons for the lacking adoption of declarative approaches seem to be related to understandability and maintainability problems [14, 15]. In particular, methods and tools addressing respective issues are still missing. In order to tackle these problems, we adopt well established techniques from the domain of software engineering. More specifically, Test Driven Development [16] and Automated Acceptance Testing [17] are combined and adapted for better supporting the declarative process life-cycle.

Download

The Test Driven Modeling approach has been implemented in the Test Driven Modeling Suite (TDMS), which is freely available. To obtain TDMS, please follow these steps:

  1. Download TDMS.
  2. Unzip the content, please be aware that TDMS contains long path names, so if you are using Windows XP, please unzip the content to the root of your drive (e.g., C:\ or D:\).
  3. Start TDMS using TDMS.exe

If you have further questions or experience troubles using TDMS, feel free to contact Stefan at any time.

Publications

  • S. Zugal, J. Pinggera and B. Weber: Toward Enhanced Life-Cycle Support for Declarative Processes. Journal of Software: Evolution and Process 24(3):285–302, 2012 
  • S. Zugal, J. Pinggera and B. Weber: Creating Declarative Process Models Using Test Driven Modeling Suite. In: Proc. CAiSE Forum ’11, pp. 1–8, 2011.  
  • S. Zugal, J. Pinggera and B. Weber: The Impact of Testcases on the Maintainability of Declarative Process Models. In: Proc. BPMDS ’11, pp. 163–177, 2011.  
  • S. Zugal, C. Haisjackl, J.Pinggera and B. Weber: Empirical Evaluation of Test Driven Modeling. International Journal of Information System Modeling and Design (accepted), 2012 

References

[1]  R. Lenz and M. Reichert: IT support for healthcare processes – premises, challenges, perspectives. DKE, vol. 61, no. 1, pp. 39-58, 2007.

[2] M. Poppendieck and T. Poppendieck: Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash. Addison-Wesley Professional, 2006.

[3] M. Dumas, W. M. van der Aalst, and A. H. ter Hofstede: Process Aware Information Systems: Bridging People and Software Through Process Technology. Wiley-Interscience, 2005.

[4] M. Weske, Business Process Management: Concepts, Methods, Technology. Springer, 2007.

[5] M. Reichert and P. Dadam: ADEPTflex: Supporting Dynamic Changes of Workflow without Losing Control, JIIS, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 93-129, 1998.

[6] M. Weske: Workflow Management Systems: Formal Foundation, Conceptual Design, Implementation Aspects. PhD thesis, University of Münster, 2000.

[7] W. M. P. van der Aalst and M. Weske: Case handling: a new paradigm for business process support, DKE, vol. 53, no. 2, pp. 129-162, 2005.

[8] M. Pesic, H. Schonenberg, N. Sidorova, and W. van der Aalst: Constraint-Based Workflow Models: Change Made Easy. In: Proc. CoopIS ’07, pp. 77-94, 2007.

[9] D. Müller, M. Reichert, and J. Herbst: A New Paradigm for the Enactment and Dynamic Adaptation of Data-driven Process Structures. In: Proc. CAiSE ’08, pp. 48-63, 2008.

[10] S. W. Sadiq, M. E. Orlowska, and W. Sadiq: Specifi cation and validation of process constraints for flexible workflows. ISJ, vol. 30, no. 5, pp. 349-378, 2005.

[11] B. Weber, M. Reichert, and S. Rinderle: Change Patterns and Change Support Features – Enhancing Flexibility in Process-Aware Information Systems. DKE, vol. 66, no. 3, pp. 438-466, 2008.

[12] J. Wainer, F. Bezerra, and P. Barthelmess: Tucupi: a flexible workflow system based on overridable constraints. In: Proc. SAC ’04, pp. 498-502, 2004.

[13] B. Weber, M. Reichert, S. Rinderle-Ma, and W. Wild: Providing Integrated Life Cycle Support in Process-Aware Information Systems. IJCIS, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 115-165, 2009.

[14] M. Pesic: Constraint-Based Work ow Management Systems: Shifting Control to Users. PhD thesis, TU Eindhoven, 2008.

[15] B. Weber, H. A. Reijers, S. Zugal, and W. Wild: The Declarative Approach to Business Process Execution: An Empirical Test. In: Proc. CAiSE ’09, pp. 270-285, 2009.

[16] K. Beck, Test Driven Development: By Example. Addison-Wesley, 2002.

[17] R. Mugridge and W. Cunningham: Fit for Developing Software: Framework for Integrated Tests. Prentice Hall, 2005.