Task flows in Intalio

In one of previous posts I depicted the main features of process-driven-task-based systems. I would like to back up thoughts by modern BPMS systems and discuss how do they support common sense.

Intalio is considered the best (or one of the best) open source BPMS. For instance, this comparison highlights slight outperforming of Intalio over jBPM. Intalio offers free version, which can be considered by small organizations or as an evaluation (due to restrictions of enterprise features like security, RDBMS support, scalability most organization will still need paid version of Intalio which starts from 9,500 USD/EUR). It may be not fair to compare Intalio to Oracle BPMS or IBM’s IBPM, which cost much more.

I am now evaluating only user-process interaction aspects, and they are:

1. how to select work to do

Intalio offers very basic task list interface. I expect if there are hundreds of active tasks, there is no way to do search (well, basic search is available but it is very basic), filter or sort the list.

2. how to perform the work

It is common way to provide Cancel, Save and Complete on task frame. Nothing special here. The underlying technologies for task UI itself are interesting. There is legacy technology called XForms, which is not recommended by Intalio anymore. Instead, there is Ajax Forms technology, based on General Interface technology, open sourced by Tibco some time ago. GI seems to be mature (v 3.9 vas released recently), but overwhelming (basic dev guide is 300+ pages long), and require some time to learn. There also seem to be a lot of concerns regarding stability and overall quality (as stated in GI Planning and on stackoverflow).

3. getting feedback

Intalio provides simple text feedback on task completion and notification engine.

4. get more info

“Reporting” interface to get more info could be implemented on any technology, but it is recommended to use same app server on which Intalio is running to avoid interop issues.

Conclusion:

As open source BPMS Intalio is great. I like the concept of single BPMN model accessed by both developers and analysts. But the UI framework (called TEMPO) seem to be temporary and immature. Implementing serious process driven apps require building custom human task framework which allows query over tasks (“my tasks”, “my team tasks”), filter and search by task types and so on. The UI frameworks offered by Intalio out of the box also seem to be “poor man” option. I would rather go with JSP or JSF or any other mainstream Java technology (I don’t mind .Net or Ruby or PHP, but for sake of compatibility Java is more safe).

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2 Comments on “Task flows in Intalio”

  1. aojajena says:

    As almost all open source things Intalio task front end should be polished polished polished and polished to reach the average usability in terms of modern web usability standards. Agree?

    my proposal is to build add-on on top of that terrible UI and it will be A VALUE!

  2. There is significant gap between open source BPM and leading commercial ones, which may be shortened in next 2-3 years in terms of usability, simulation and debugging and monitoring.


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