Open source JBoss Rules gains speed

JBoss also extends business rules engine to nonprogrammers, adds MVEL language support

JBoss is announcing Monday a faster version of JBoss Rules, the company's open source business rules engine.

Gains in speed in version 4.0 have resulted in rules processing in seconds as opposed to minutes, said Burr Sutter, technical product manager for JBoss. Speed has been increased by new "sequentiality" methods, which do not assume the rules change all the time. The product is 40 percent faster than before.

Based on the JBoss Drools Project, JBoss Rules is used to set rules within a business process. It can be deployed for functions such as establishing computational business logic associated with an application. Examples would be a pricing engine or a routing node.

An AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML)-enabled Web console in version 4.0 extends Rules to nonprogrammers.

"It allows nonprogramming staffers to actually interact with [JBoss] Rules and develop rules, and it gives the administrators the opportunity to have lifecycle control over those rules," Sutter said.

The ability to express rules has been enhanced in version 4.0 through the addition of support for MVEL (MVFlex Expression Language). Support also continues for Java rules.

"We have a much more powerful language environment now," Sutter said.

JBoss Rules is being integrated with the JBoss ESB (enterprise service bus), in which the rules engine can examine the content of a message, such as an invoice, and make decisions on where to send the message. The ESB handles message flow while Rules serves as a "traffic cop" working in conjunction with the ESB, said Sutter. JBoss provides a "rules service" for the ESB.

A guided rules editor has been added, allowing users to point and click to declare a business rule using list boxes.

JBoss Rules 4.0 is also described as being Hibernate-ready; that is, it can function with JBoss' Hibernate object-relational mapping software, which converts relational database rows into Java objects. A business rule could be built that, for example, pulls customer names directly from the database.

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