Going to Impact 2013

Well hello all

Yes, I know, I’ve been away for a while, life gets busy sometimes…

Just a quick post to say that I will be attending (and presenting) at IBM Impact 2013 which starts tomorrow in Las Vegas.

My presentations:

  • Guest Notifications: Operational Decision Management Events and Rules in Flight: a presentation I am doing with WestJet about one of the projects I worked on in 2012
  • Governing Operational Decisions in an Enterprise Scalable Way:a presentation that covers the topic of, well, governance… :) and the title of the book I co-authored which released yesterday

Well, as I just mentioned, I’ve been working on a book with two other authors (Pierre Berlandier and Duncan Clark). The book released just yesterday and is available at: http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/abstracts/sg248127.html?Open

Enjoy!

 

 

Rules related events this fall

Although I know I am late at announcing the events, here are 2 events about rules that are coming up in the next few weeks.

I will unfortunately not be able to attend and blog from those events this year (unless someone is willing to sponsor me!) but they are really interesting events to attend.
Rules Fest at http://rulesfest.org
Dates: October 11-14 2010 in San Jose
Comments: This conference is a technical oriented conference. Last year was extremely interesting and this year Jason Morris managed to have a line up of speakers including many big names in the industry such as Mark Proctor, Barbara von Halle, Larry Goldberg, Jacob Feldman, Paul Vincent and James Taylor among others. Should be an amazing conference with that line up.
Business Rules Forum at http://www.businessrulesforum.com/
Dates: October 17-21 2010 in Washington DC
Comments: This is the more known conference which this year is colocated with the Business Analysis Forum and Business Process Forum (and advertised as the Building Business Capability conference at http://www.buildingbusinesscapability.com). A very interesting conference where most vendors are present and which allows you to meet a lot of people that work in the industry.

 If you go, let me know your thoughts!

First look at JRules Scorecard Modeler

I recently have been able to use the new add-on to JRules called Scorecard Modeler.

Unlike the name may imply, Scorecard Modeler does not help you model scorecards at all. In other words, it is not a statistical analysis tool that would be used to create scorecard models, but simply an editor that allows easy creation of scorecards within the JRules environment.

What is a scorecard? I have recently written a post title “A quick introduction to scorecards” to go over some of the details of what a scorecard is. I suggest you start there before continuing reading this post.

Scorecard modeler is simply a new editor that will be added to your list of choices for adding rules to a rule project and in some ways it looks similar to a decision table editor.

It is a Rule Studio only editor so as of this writing, there is no RTS editor available. How does it work? It simply generates the usual IRL rules (like all other editors) for deployment. I suspect that IBM will be working on an RTS editor for this, but that is only speculation at this time.

The Review

Installation

The installation of the scorecard modeler requires that you should have JRules already installed (verson 6.7.x, 7.0 or 7.1). The installation will ask you to select the directory of your existing JRules install, but otherwise it is pretty straight forward.

The Editor

Once you have installed the modeler, when you relaunch your Rule Studio, the new editor will be available to create scorecards in JRules. Some of the options will change the number of columns that need to be filled in for the scorecard but overall it is simple to understand how to fill the information in.

There are some GUI quirks in the current interface (entering negative values is quirky, moving attributes up and down, and making the scorecard properties page appear for example) but these do not prevent the scorecard from working properly and I am hoping that IBM will eventually address these minor irritants.

Some odd behaviours

Scorecard modeler has some behaviours that are not typical of the other editors in JRules. Namely, the modeler automatically creates new BOM entries in your project and it creates a variable set that is used to create variables that point to each scorecard created. Now these are odd behaviours, but are obviously required for things to work properly. Once you are familiar with those behaviours it makes troubleshooting possibly a bit easier.

These behaviours are even more prominent if you are using an architecture that uses multiple projects to hold XOM, BOM and Rules and especially if you have multiple BOM projects. The location where scorecard modeler chooses to set the variable set up and add the BOMs might not be the one you want or expect.

Another odd behaviour that is not common to the other editors is that the scorecard modeler actually allows the selection of “non verbalized” elements from the BOM. I am not sure why that is and it is contrary to the normal behaviour of all other editors in JRules so it is good to note that a user is actually able to choose from items that are not usually available as choices (until they are verbalized).

The limitations

There are limitations that are good to know about upfront.

Naming of a scorecard has more limitations than any other “rule” in JRules. Don’t use spaces, dashes or underscores in your scorecard name. I believe that this limitation is due to the automatic creation of variables (see above) and that as long as you stick to those “naming rules” you will be doing just fine.

Renaming of a scorecard is a little more work than what we might be used to. You can easily rename the scorecard, but the automatically created variable that goes with this variable is not renamed automatically. In some cases the old variable name gets deleted, but the new one does not get created. This can easily be fixed by manually creating the variable name that matches your scorecard name in the proper variable set and everything will be OK.

Documentation generated by the rule reports will not include a copy of the scorecard and there is no copy and paste to and from the scorecard modeler. So documentation will have to be created by using the age old technique of screen capture and pasting images in documents… Not ideal. I am hoping that IBM addresses this in future releases.

There are other limitations and all users should get familiar with them by reading the readme file that comes with scorecard modeler.

The issues

As of version 7.0.2 there are some issues that I have encountered in a specific environment for which IBM had to provide hot fixes for making the scorecard modeler work in that environment. Version 7.1 fixes most of these issues save 1  as far as I can tell (some attributes with a specific configuration can’t be selected at all to be part of the scorecard).

In IBM’s defence, IBM support has been extremely responsive to help resolve any of the important issues  encountered and the hot fixes provided make it possible to use the scorecard modeler.

The Documentation

The documentation provided with scorecard modeler is more of a relatively straight forward tutorial than actual documentation. Some of the features are not documented at all or so badly documented that even IBM has a hard time figuring out what they are for…

My suggestion on this is that new users should walk through the tutorials provided and then immediately try to make their own scorecards work in the modeler.

One of the good things from the documentation point of view is that at least the API documentation is included so that if customizations are needed for reasoning strategies and things of that sort, developers will have a starting point for working on the customizations.

The Verdict

The scorecard modeler in some cases still feels like an “early version” of the software, but with IBM’s help (through support and hot fixes) the scorecard modeler ends up being a great tool to enter scorecards into JRules.

Although a bit quirky, overall I think this tool has great potential to be a great addition to JRules.