Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Test suite for business rules

I mentioned in a previous posts that the rule validation in the interactive rule map (cause-effect graph between terms and rules) is part one of the rule validation.

In the image on the right (click to zoom) you see the second part that is currently being developed. Test cases that are created in the interactive rule map can be saved to a test suite. A test suite (a collection of test cases for business rules) can be executed in a batch process.

For every test record we compare the user defined expected value with the rules engine computed value. Any discrepancies are flagged with a red info, and the test record would be marked red to indicate a failure. Green test records have all computed values equal to the business users defined expected values.

In the output terms you have to indicate which term you want to set as a goal for the rules engine. One test suite can process multiple goals. But every test record can only have one goal defined.

Similar to the meta information on a business rule, a test record contains the meta information of who the author is, when it was created, a description field etc.

You can imagine that among business users a difference of opinion might exists what the expected outcome value must be for a particular situation. We can not say what is right or wrong withing a rule policy, but we can show there is a difference.

Finally, the test suite can be used perfectly for regression testing your rule policy and can give a good impact analysis what happens when you modify your rule policy.
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Monday, June 11, 2007

Microsoft XPS format

During a web demonstration of the Rule Manager I had to go for a full OS reboot. Not very pretty for a product demonstration. What happened? Not really sure, but it seems that the latest version of Adobe Acrobat (8.1.0) started to lock the generated Rule PDF report.

Few days later I started to get the forced updates from Adobe. Considering I have many VM installations to test all different platforms and configurations, you can imagine I'm not too happy with these forced downloads.

Finally the free PDF viewer started to contain advertisement to FedEx. These 'convenient' link buttons are always a big annoyance to me.

It was time to provide an alternative to the PDF format. The latest release of the Rule Manager (1.5.0.17) supports now the Microsoft XPS as an alternative.

The good part of this is that an XPS viewer comes pre-installed on Microsoft Vista. I'm not really sure if it is part of .NET 3.0 framework, but on my XP SP2 box I could use the XPS viewer as well.

Currently the Adobe PDF format is still the default report format, but you can easily change that (and we will store your preferences in your user settings)

The main shortcoming I currently see with the XPS viewer is that you can not rotate a page.

Here are the results:
XPS: http://www.acumenbusiness.com/portals/Loan%20Mortgage%20Approval.xps
PDF: http://www.acumenbusiness.com/portals/Loan%20Mortgage%20Approval.pdf

Monday, June 04, 2007

Rule Manager 1.5.0.x is released

The new Rule Manager (1.5.0.x) is released! There are many new features and enhancements. Here are some of the highlights:
  • Rule Validation; in the interactive rule map you can let the rules engine resolve any term.
    This starts an animated goal seeking process. The default waiting time is 0.5 sec. You can change this in the debug options.
  • Panning and zooming of the interactive rule map.
  • Creation of business rules and business terms are completely accessible during the trial period.
  • Export your rule policy to Windows Workflow Foundation, and you see the rules executing on top of Microsoft's Forward chaining rules engine. By default the rule tracing is on. You can see the rule execution in the output console of Visual Studio.
Existing users can follow the internal update wizard (except that you need the .NET Framework 3.0)

New users can start the installation wizard that is available here.