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Biztalk rule engine

Hi

We are developing a asp.net  application which needs business rules to be used . I was evaluating biztalk server since i know that biztalk server 2004 have rule engine support . But we may need to give the business users a web interface in order for them to view and edit the rules using a web browser . Can anyone tell me whether biztalk server has this feature .

if no , can you please suggest me any good rule engine . I dont want to use Ilog rule studio .net because it is a recent release and thus not a matured product.

Thanking you

techbie
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techbie
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techbie
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Craig YellickDatabase ArchitectCommented:
I don't know much about the operational details of other rules engines. But I do know about BizTalk's rules engine and can make two observations:

1. It's not web-enabled. The rules engine editor is a Windows application.

2. It's not an end-user tool. Due to critical publishing and versioning functionality and the impact that changes have on BizTalk orchestrations and other applications using the rules, you would never want to allow ordinary users to mess with this tool, even if it were web-enabled. Perhaps if they had sufficient training this would be OK. But it would involve a lot of training.

If you have BizTalk and want to use the very powerful rules engine in this manner, I think it's entirely possible *if* you can simplify what you mean when you say "business users...view and edit".

For example, a skilled BizTalk developer comes up with a set of rules and configures them such that key parameter values are drawn from the outside (e.g., a database). The developer also defines some "meta" rules that control the use of other rules, and again these are controlled from the outside.

Then you could create web forms that allow business users to view and alter the values that drive the rules, and edit the control rules.  For example, the rule that examines customer purchase history to assign a discount could be based on input values describing the date range that is checked and the discount percentage to apply. These values could be examined and changed by the business user. (But they could not alter the internal rule itself).  A meta rule might offer a list of, for example, five additional rules that govern discounts, and the business user could enable/disable the rules that are applied for discounting through the web interface.

Of course this is a LOT of effort and is hardly a general purpose business rule editor for business users. But it does allow quite a bit of control via a web interface.

-- Craig Yellick
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Craig YellickDatabase ArchitectCommented:
I forgot to point out one additional (and substantial) advantage to this approach:  since you're only editing input values you don't have to version and publish the rules to implement the changes. Much easier and safer. And you can easily "un do" mistakes.
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techbieAuthor Commented:
Hi...

Business users in our project are scattered around the globe and they need create new rules , edit existing rules via web interface . Just changing a parameter value in the rule will not be enough .  So the online web editor should have all the features available in a standard business rule composer...

And we dont want to make the whole  situation really complex to handle . What do you think about this.

techbie
 
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Craig YellickDatabase ArchitectCommented:
>> the online web editor should have all the features available in a standard business rule composer

Wow. You'll have to ask Microsoft about that one. I doubt they'll convert the existing rules editor to a web-enabled tool, due to the way it needs to access enterprise resources that would not be easy (if at all possible) in a web context.

The best solution would be to use Terminal Services or Citrix MetaFrame to provide a full Windows editor experience via a web browser.

Or, investigate other vendor options for rules engines. It's entirely possible someone else offers a web-enabled rule editor.

-- Craig Yellick
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