XML Process Definition Language (XPDL)

April 20, 2011

XML Process Definition Language (XPDL)

What is XPDL?

The XML Process Definition Language (XPDL) is a format standardized by the Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC) to interchange business process definitions between different workflow products, i.e. between different modeling tools and management suites. XPDL defines an XML schema for specifying the declarative part of workflow / business process.

In order to talk about XPDL one has to know about XML, which is a set of rules in machine-readable form. It is defined in the XML 1.0 Specification produced by W3C, and several other related specifications, all gratis open standards. One could go on and on about XML, but the purpose of this document is to talk on XPDL.

One of the reasons XPDL was designed was to exchange the process definition, both the graphics and the semantics of a workflow business process. XPDL is currently the best file format for exchange of BPMN diagrams; it has been designed specifically to store all aspects of a BPMN diagram. XPDL contains elements to hold graphical information, such as the X and Y position of the nodes, as well as executable aspects which would be used to run a process. This distinguishes XPDL from BPEL which focuses exclusively on the executable aspects of the process. BPEL does not contain elements to represent the graphical aspects of a process diagram.

XPDL also provides file format that supports all the different aspects of the BPMN process definition notation including the graphical descriptions of the diagrams, as well as executable properties used at run time. XML Process Definition Language is also extensible. In this aspect it allows all the different tools to store implementation specific information within the XPDL. In turn those values will preserved even when they are manipulated by tools that do not understand those extensions.

There are several implementations of XPDL. Here are just a few….

  • Active Endpoint’s ActiveVOS visual orchestration system supports XPDL 2.1
  • Brein VB’s InProces uses XPDL 2.0
  • Canto CanFlow uses XPDL within this Digital Asset Management solution
  • EMC Documentum ApplicationXtender Workflow supports import and export of XPDL
  • First Trace’s Kinnosa Workflow supports XPDL for process model exchange
  • Global 360 Business Optimzation Server (BOS) supports XPDL 2.0 and BPMN
  • HOGA.PL‘S intraDok supports import and export of process definitions in XPDL
  • IBM FileNet Business Process Manager 4.0 supports XPDL 1.0 and 2.0 as well as BPMN
  • jawFlow is an open source workflow engine supports XPDL
  • KAISHA-Tec’s ActiveModeler Avantage supports XPDL 2.0
  • Lombardi’s Blueprint supports XPDL 2.1 and BPMN
  • Metoda S.p.A OpenMet BPMF supports XPDL
  • Nautica uses XPDL process definition data with GUI based definition editor
  • Oracle 9i Warehouse Builder 9.2 saves process definitions in XPDL
  • proLOGIT BPR Business Process Reporter uses XPDL within an advanced HTML reporting solution
  • QualiWare supports XPDL 2.1 for both import andexport of process models
  • Rodan Systems OfficeObjects Workflow is an embedded, commercial workflow engine using XPDL
  • Simprocess from CACI supports XPDL for simulation models
  • Together Workflow Editor is a graphical XPDL-based workflow editor
  • Unisys has done significant BPM development using XPDL
  • Vignette Process Workflow Modeler supports XPDL
  • WfMOpen is an open source workflow engine that uses XPDL
  • Workflow::Wfmc is an OpenSource lightweight Workflow Engine in PERL based on XPDL 2.0
  • Zynium’s Byzio is a Visio plugin enabling two-way transoformation of Visio diagrams and XPDL

In conclusion, XPDL is used throughout many different products today to exchange process definitions. This makes XPDL very useful to the business process. As time continues, the use of XPDL will grow and become used more frequently. With XPDL, a product can write out a process definition with full fidelity, and another product can read it in and reproduce the same diagram that was sent.








One Response to “XML Process Definition Language (XPDL)”

  1. Vincent Cockrell said

    Good presentation. I will be looking for opportunities to use XPDL on future projects.

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