Ideas on Enterprise Information Systems Development

This blog is devoted to ideas on Enterprise Information Systems (EIS) development. It focuses on Lean Thinking, Agile Methods, and Free/Open Source Software, as means of improving EIS development and evolution, under a more practical than academical view. You may find here a lot of "thinking aloud" material, sometimes without scientific treatment... don't worry, this is a blog!
Every post is marked with at least one of Product or Process labels, meaning that they are related to execution techniques (programming and testing) or management techniques (planning and monitoring), respectively.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Enterprise Information Systems Patterns - Part XI

Evolving the interpretation of the concepts
As the framework evolves, and we play with it through the examples, new interpretations of the concepts appear. In fact, after playing with Fluidity, we realized that Transformation and Transportation were not necessarily implemented as classes, but categories of movements instead, given that they behave in the same way - it is only a question of explicitly saying if the work item is transformed into a Node (a transformation) or simply moved from one node to another (a transportation).

The history behind this is that, when developing the example, it was noticed that even a "simple" resource movement would need to be logged, as well as it could be associated to, or even generate, other resource(s). When we realized this, it was clear that transportations would potentially need the same machinery used by transformations, hence, they share a common behavior, which should be implemented into Movement class. Therefore, they were transformed into categories - although the Category class is not in use yet. Figure 1 shows how the framework's ontology is interpreted now.

Figure 1: EIS Patterns Ontology

Another important point is that the relationship "is_a" between Operation and Resource does not represent a classic object oriented inheritance relationship. In other words, Operation is not a class, instead, it is a Python Decorator which is applied to Person and Machine methods to mark them as Business Operations. Therefore, when it is said that "a Node performs an Operation", it means that some of the Node's method is decorated as an operation - or, this node is able of performing this operation. Finally, the relationship "operates_on" between Operation and Resource means that operations are always transforming or transporting resources, through movements which encapsulates them (the operations).

In summary:
a) An operation is an abstract representation of a production operation.
b) A node's method is decorated by an operation to inform that the original abstract concept is now represented concretely by the method.
c) Inside a business process, a movement is used to encapsulate and log the execution context of the concrete operation defined in (b).
d) Running a process consists of executing and logging the movements defined in (c).

Part IX of this series explains in less abstract terms how to deal with operations and movements. Part X explains how to do this using Fluidity and Extreme Fluidity. As expected, in order to understand how the whole thing is implemented, it is necessary to check the EIS Patterns Examples project, in special, how BDD steps are implemented.

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