Not long ago, business rules engines were one of the bastions of pure academic computer science with only a niche role in serving business. As applied artificial intelligence, rules engines are the domain of PhD academics and were used in some advanced simulations, etc... No more. With the rise of some of the pioneering vendors and now a leading open source contender, JBoss Rules, rules engines are being embedded in web applications as well as providing services in a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and to business processes automated with business process management (BPM).
JBoss Rules is the Red Hat product that combines the Drools project with a JBoss subscription. JBoss Rules 3.X was the first version offered by Red Hat's JBoss division starting in early 2006 and was focused on developers using a rules engine embedded in their web or enterprise application. Now, with JBoss Rules 4.0, we see open source rules moving into larger business process roles with its business analyst-friendly business rules management system (technology preview) and more rules tools advancements such as the guided editor. JBoss Rules 4.0 lays the foundation for bringing rules-based solutions into Simple, Open and Affordable SOA deployments and business process workflows.
JBoss Rules 4.0 adds numerous capabilities including:
- Fast – JBoss Rules 4.0 is faster and leaner than its predecessor. As with any technology performance metric, "your mileage will vary" depending on use case, however, our internal benchmarks have shown that key tests have gone from being measured in minutes to seconds.
- Expressive - JBoss Rules 4.0 introduces a dramatically more expressive and powerful declarative business action scripting language. Users will find that it is more concise as well as more readable.
- Tools - Introducing the Guided Rules Editor: Point & click your way to advanced declarative business rules that automatically bind to enterprise data by simply answering basic menu prompts via drop-down lists. No coding (or coders) required.
- Ruleflow - Part of the new Eclipse-based IDE for JBoss Rules 4.0, Ruleflow is a visual modeling technology to declaratively model execution paths of related rules. It also allows for simultaneous flows within a single working memory and essentially organizes rule execution along the requirements governing a typical business process. Example: one rule flow could be acquiring stock ticker information while another flow is performing the logic associated with which stocks to purchase or sell.
- Multi-application support: Improved support for stateful and stateless processing as well as overall thread safety helps make Drools even easier to embed within Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (EE) and service-oriented business applications.
- Hibernate Ready - JBoss Rules 4.0 allows for local reasoning over collections of facts that are pulled directly from Hibernate-driven RDBMS queries. Your existing Hibernate components can be used directly in the rules engine and this reduces the amount of code you need to create substantially.
- Business Rules Management System (Technology Preview) - The new BRMS available with JBoss Rules 4.0 is a web-based, AJAX-enhanced, collaborative rule authoring, versioning and management system. Non-programming IT workers can now interactively author and/or modify rules that are automatically versioned. Administrators now have full life cycle control over which rules are in QA, staging, production, etc.
These additions have been created working with the Drools project user and developer community and shows the power and speed that open source development brings to bear on a high value middleware segment such as rules engines. We are excited about the progress of JBoss Rules and the expanded opportunities it offers for developers and business process professionals around the world!
Check the latest Drools release. Learn more about Red Hat's JBoss Rules product and here which includes the Drools project and the JBoss Subscription. We expect JBoss Rules 4.0 to be finalized by July 20th.