Business Rule Engine
Orchestration Designer, together with BizTalk Editor and BizTalk Mapper, is an effective way to define a business process and the rules it uses. Over time, however, the rules specified in an orchestration can change. The decisions embedded in a business process—the business rules—are commonly the most volatile. For example, a manager's spending limit might change, or a customer's maximum allowed order might change. You need a way to define and change business rules. To meet this need, BizTalk Server 2004 provides the Business Rule Engine to enable you to directly create and modify sets of business rules. These rules are created by using a tool called the Business Rule Composer, and then executed directly by the engine. This technology is new in BizTalk Server 2004.
To change a business rule that is implemented within an orchestration, you can open the orchestration in Visual Studio .NET, modify the appropriate shapes (and perhaps the .NET or COM objects they invoke), and then build and deploy the modified assembly. If instead the business rule is implemented by using the Business Rule Engine, it can be modified without recompiling or restarting anything. You only need to use the Business Rule Composer to change the desired rule, and then redeploy the new set of rules. The change takes effect immediately. And while orchestrations are typically created and maintained by developers, business rules are readable enough to be modified by business analysts without the need to involve developers.
To use the Business Rule Engine to create a set of business rules, you typically start by using the Business Rule Composer to define a vocabulary for specifying the rules. Each term in the vocabulary provides a user-friendly name for some information. Then you use the Business Rule Composer to create business processes that use the vocabulary. Each business process contains one or more business rules. A rule uses the terms defined in the vocabulary together with logical operators.
The core idea of defining a vocabulary and then defining sets of rules that use it is the heart of the Business Rule Engine. The goal is to provide a straightforward way for BizTalk Server 2004 users of all kinds to create and work with the rules that define business processes.
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