On this years W-JAX I had the pleasure to host a session about explorative product development. The session was about the appropriate mixture of methods and software architecture especially, but not only, for projects in the pioneering phase. A good example of the Creative Software Workbench in action. You can see the session recording on entwickler.de (subscription required).
Fintech Success Story
In 2017 PLEUS Consulting supported Yareto GmbH in the development of their new independent comparision site for the automotive finance industry.
Yareto is a fintech company that specializes in automotive financing. In 2016 the corporate startup was founded to build a brand new comparision site for the automotive finance industry. The site enables car dealers to compare credit offers in the areas of sales financing and purchase financing. Lenders get access to sales channels they couldn’t serve before.
PLEUS Consulting supported Yareto in setting up a Creative Software Workbench. The Creative Software Workbench aligns technology, processes and people in a way that creates an environment in which high quality digital products can be developed in short time.
The front-ends were developed using modern web technologies such as Java-/Typescript, HTML5, CSS and Angular. For the backend Java Enterprise (JEE) and a Sustainable Service Design approach was utilized to design and build a backend with a high degree of reuse and scalability. The service landscape was established using Domain Driven Design principles. Operations was performed using cloud platforms.
On the technical side, PLEUS Consulting supported the teams as Lead Developer. In the area of agile techniques, PLEUS Consulting supported the development teams as Agile Coach. The combination of those roles worked quite well especially in the phases of seed and growth. With these roles the company received thorough support in the areas of technology and methodology.
The project has shown that with a combination of modern technologies, agile approaches and the right people a very short concept to market cycle can be achieved, creating competitive advantages. This is what the Creative Software Workbench is all about.
You can read more details about the project in the official success story. More info about the Creative Software Workbench can be found on the official website.
JAX 2017 Sessions Download
The slide deck from my JAX 2017 sessions can be downloaded here.
Agile – Mythen, Trends, Best Practices
Mit Prozessen, Services und Regeln zur effizienten Kreditvergabe
Bank11 Success Story
In 2016 PLEUS Consulting supported Bank11 in the development of their brand new sales financing system VICTOR 3.0.
Bank11 is a credit institution that specializes in sales financing. In 2016 the bank decided to replace their existing software with something new. To be able to meet the challenging requirements in terms of quality, customer satisfaction and process efficiency they decided to build their own solution.
On the technical side, PLEUS Consulting supported the teams as Master Developer and Architecture Owner. In the area of agile techniques, PLEUS Consulting supported the development teams as Scrum Master and Agile Coach. Although not 100% tension free, the combination of those roles worked quite well. With these roles the bank received thorough support in the areas of technology and methodology.
From the beginning we tried to align technology and business as much as possible, creating a people centered architecture. Central to the strategy were BPMN process models, graphical business rules and visual service contracts. In order to create appealing front-ends for the car dealers and the back office of the bank we worked closely with user interface specialists which were members of the cross functional teams. Web stack technologies allowed us to create individual and great looking front-ends. Agile frameworks such as Scrum organized the development teams and created valuable software together with the customer within a short period of time.
The project has shown that with a combination of modern technologies and agile approaches a very short concept to market cycle can be achieved, creating competitive advantages. It also demonstrates that it is possible to establish an agile culture in rather traditional business domains.
You can read more details about the project in the official success story. If you want to find out more come to watch my talks at JAX 2017 in Mainz.
JAX Sessions about Agile and Architecture
Between the 8th and 12th May 2017 JAX will be taking place at Rheingold Halle in Mainz.
On the 8th I am going to give a presentation about Agile trends, myths and best practices. . In this talk I will show why Agile is the way to go and what it actually means to work with Agile rather than just applying Scrum or Kanban rules.
On the 9th I will share insights from a banking projekt in 2016. This technical talk will show how to combine current architectural patterns such as sustainable service orientation, process automation and business rules to create an architecture that evolves around people.
You can see the timeslots on the JAX website. I look forward to seeing you there.
Team Complexity – The Underestimated Factor
Most people would agree to say that an IT project is complex if it has to cope with difficult technology and a challenging business context.
But it is not just technical complexity that threatens the success of a project. Team complexity is an important and often underestimated factor that highly affects the likelyness of success and failure of IT projects.
Even if you have a simple technical problem to solve, it can get much more complicated if you do it with a complex team.
The main problem is that effective communication is very hard to achieve with complex teams. But effective communication amongst the stakeholders, developers, business and operations is one of the key success factors for IT projects. Thus having a team with low complexity reduces risk and increases efficiency. But why is this often not recognized? I think the reason is that dynamic effects are hard to measure and invisible most of the time.
Inspired by the article Projects fail due to dynamic complexity (German) written by Prof. Dr. des. oec. HSG Stefan Grösser I thought about common factors that affect team complexity and therefore dynamic complexity.
To create more awareness in terms of those factors and make the subject more tangible I’ve created the Team Complexity Calculator. Its a fun tool that can be used to get a better idea of how those typical factors affect team complexity. It does not produce absolute results, so please don’t take it too serious. 😉
If you know additional factors that affect team complexity, please let me know.
Those factors are based on experience I’ve made in projects ranging from small to very large sizes.
Windows Store Apps Training
As part of my ongoing certification I recently achieved the Microsoft Solutions Developer Windows Store Apps using HTML5 certification.
I am now entitled to deliver the official trainings from the Microsoft Official Curriculum such as:
If you are not sure whether Windows App development is the right thing for you or if you just want to get a feeling for the tooling, technologies and the development process you should attend my Windows Store Apps development workshop which is offered as in-house training.
Windows Apps will soon be availabe on most office workstations. Learning how to develop it is a great opportunity to be at the fore front to deliver compelling user experience. Don’t miss it! 😉
Agile Games Released
Today my Windows 8 app Agile Games passed the Microsoft certification process. It is now available in the Windows Store.
If you want to know to develop how those apps, please attend the Windows Store App Development Workshop. I think Windows Apps have a great potential. They are well suited to reach users in a modern way. Most business workstations today are equipped with Windows so the market is huge. Let’s start coding!
In this tutorial I would like to show how to visualize BPMN files in a web browser.
All we need is jQuery for easy DOM navigation, XMLJS to parse the BPMN file and Raphael to visualize it. Since BPMN version 2.0 the BPMN XML file contains additional diagram interchange information. This information together with the actual process data can be used to draw process diagrams from the XML with little effort.
Step 1: Create the process
First we create a simple BPMN2.0 process like the one below using our tool of choice. In this case it was created with Signavio Modeler.
If we open the bpmn file in a text editor it looks like this:
What we see is that in addition to the actual process information it contains elements named BPMNShape and BPMNEdge. BPMNShape contains the bounds of the shape whereas BPMNEdge contains the path of the respective shape connector. This is the diagram interchange format which specifies the size and location of the graphical elements and paths.
Step 2: Prepare the HTML page
We need a simple HTML page that loads the required scripts for jQuery, XMLJS, Raphael and of course our own script bpmnjs.js.
The textarea element (line 20) contains the BPMN data. It is omitted here for the sake of readability.
The div element (line 23) specifies the drawing area that is needed to output the graphics.
Both are needed to initialize BPMNJS in the document ready event (line 14-15).
Step 3: Parse the DI elements using XMLJS
The following listing shows the parsing loop for the BPMN shapes within the plot function of BPMNJS.
First the XMLJS dom parser is initialized (line 49-51). The bpmndi namespace is determined in the getNamespaces function at line 54. Line 57 obtains all shapes. The rest of the listing iterates over the shapes, gets positions, sizes and bpmnElement-ids of the related BPMN elements and passes them to the paintShape function which performs the painting. The parsing loop for the edges is almost identical. The simplest possible paintShape implementation would look like the following.
The constructor function (lines 2-4) connects Raphael with our div and stores the Raphael instance in a variable called paper. The paper is used in the function paintShape which draws a simple rectangle using the given coordinates (line 8).
The result looks like this:
Step 4: Find related process elements
In order to draw specific BPMN elements we have to determine the element type. The bpmnElement attribute that we have got in step 3 helps us to do that. We use it to get the process element by issuing an xPath expression on the DOM as you can see in the next listing (line 128).
The localName of the element is the name of the BPMN element an therefore the type such as startEvent. With this information we can implement a dispatcher to draw all BPMN elements individually (lines 130-133).
Step 5: Draw elements using Raphael and CSS
The next listing shows an implementation to draw a basic BPMN task.
After implementing some more type specific paint functions the result looks like this:
Step 6: Highlight paths
One of the advantages of painting the BPMN model at runtime over a static JPG like the one shown in step 1 is that it allows interactivity. For instance we could highlight the actual token flow in the model. To do that we need information about the executed BPMN steps. This can typically be obtained from a process tracking system which is part of almost every BPM product. To achieve highlighting we extend the getCss function to return a different class if the current shape is in the list of already executed steps.
We add the postfix -high to the CSS class in case the element should be highlighted. By specifying for example the class .task-high we can achieve highlighting for shapes and edges. The result is show below.
Step 7: Add interactivity
Finally we can even add interactivity to the model with a little help from Raphael.
As this can not be demonstrated using static images you can find an interactive version here. In this version you can hover over and click individual shapes to make them react.
Integrated Process Management with Open Source
If you ever tried to create an execution environment to automate business- or integration processes based on Open Source products, you know that this is not an easy task. Although Open Source products like Activiti or Apache Camel are of high quality, they do not run with production grade quality out-of-the-box. For serious usage scenarios typically a lot of work is required to integrate those products into a sound platform. This fact hinders companies to use those great products and turn to closed source alternatives from Oracle, Appian or Inubit, just to name a few.
Now there is an interesting alternative called oparo. oparo is an integrated process automation platform based on rock solid Open Source products. oparo is not limited to BPMN processes only. It rather focuses on the entire process spanning business, workflow, mediation and integration.
The platform does all the plumbing required to turn single products such as Activiti, Apache Camel, Apache ActiveMQ, Lucene/Solr, etc. into a platform that can be used out-of-the box. Even better, oparo is entirely ASF2.0 licensed (today and tomorrow) which offers broad usage options and does not involve any hidden costs for enterprise features.
oparo shields the process engineer (the guy who analyses and automates processes) as much as possible from low level technical tasks such as connecting and transforming Camel and Activiti message payloads. It offers a unified development approach for the process engineer to focus on business functionality instead of technical plumbing. Moreover it comprises additional valuable services such as process flow tracking, humantask integration or a registry. Due to oparos service binding approach, those services can be easily integrated in existing IT landscapes using almost any technology (e.g. .NET, JEE, HTML5/JS/CSS). The runtime is scalable (in terms of technology and licenses), the set up is automated and the whole platform is based on proven standards.
If that sounds promising, you can give it a try. You can find more information and a downloadable jumpstart distribution at oparo – the efficient process platform (German only)