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Wednesday, 21 March 2018
Overview of standards in the Business Process Management (BPM) area Print E-mail

Author: Karsten Tolle

Date of generation: 21. February 2006

Last update: 03. Mai 2006

Note: This is just a very brief overview drawing the BPM picture as I see it. There might be different opinions.

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Several standards can be found in the BPM area. Some of them are no longer supported, like XLANG and WSFL that are combined into BPEL4WS (or just BPEL). Others do are not supported in the way that I expect to play a major roll in future. I will call those standards out-of-date standards (which do not mean that they are not in use anymore). The following table lists the out-of-date standards with some comments.

Table 1 out-of-date standards





Business Process Modeling Language

successor: BPEL


Workflow Process Definition Language

successor: XPDL


Web Services Choreography Interface

only at the status of an W3C Note (August 2002) http://www.w3.org/TR/wsci/


is covered by WS-CDL


Web Services Choreography Language

only at the status of an W3C Note (March 2002) http://www.w3.org/TR/2002/NOTE-wscl10-20020314/


is covered by WS-CDL


Web Services Flow Language

successor: BPEL


XML-based language for standardizing business processes

successor: BPEL

The following standards remain I want to concentrate on: BPEL, BPMN, ebXML BPSS, WS-CDL, XPDL. A short description is captured in Table 2.

Table 2 Relevant standards





Business Process Execution Language – (standards are named BPEL4WS or WS-BPEL) – it can be viewed as a programming language to define the interaction with Web Services. It can be executed by BPEL engines.

BPEL is strongly supported by the big companies and is hosted by OASIS.


Business Process Modeling Notation – a graphical notation for expressing business processes.

Defined by OMG/BPMI, might be included into the UML standard extending the activity diagram in future releases.


ebXML Business Process Specification Schema – a schema to allow business to define their Business Processes in a uniform and consistent manner. Its goal is to provide the bridge between e-business process modelling and specification of e-business software components.

Is part of ebXML, hosted by OASIS.


Web Services Choreography Description Language – is an XML-based language that describes peer-to-peer collaborations of Web Services participants by defining, from a global viewpoint, their common and complementary observable behaviour; where ordered message exchanges result in accomplishing a common business goal.

Defined by W3C.


XML Process Definition Language – is a standard for exchanging process design between process modelling tools.

… can be used as a file format for BPMN.

The standards can be used for the different application areas as listed below. Table 3 maps the standards to these application ranges.

· Orchestration – there is one conductor (orchestration engine) leading the interaction of services/messages/processes.

· Choreography – control flow and sequencing of messages across channels. Each participant in the choreography should know how to handle and what to do (master plan known to everyone). There is no explicit conductor for the choreography. However, orchestration engines can be participate into a choreography.

· Collaboration – sometimes called “business choreography”, partner interaction across domains of control that recognizes business intent.

· Notation – to support a human readable easy understandable notation for business processes and their interactions.

The difference of orchestration and choreography is sometimes compared with difference of having traffic signs or a roundabout. But you need to be careful; some people use these words as synonyms.

Table 3 BPM standards and their application area

Application Area










BPMN (OMG) [XPDL (WfMC) as file format]

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