Happy 15th Birthday, OpenRules!

Today is exactly 15 years since OpenRules, Inc. was incorporated on Feb. 24, 2003. It’s a quite serious milestone, so I decided to write a few words for this occasion. A year ago, I described a brief history of our company and key factors that made it successful. 2018 was an extremely successful year for OpenRules as well: we improved the product and many major corporations became our new customers. But in this post I want to look to the future and to share some of our upcoming and long term plans.

OpenRules is already a well-known Business Rules and Decision Management system used in real-world production environments by many corporations and government agencies worldwide. Thus, I want to assure our customers that OpenRules will remain backward-compatible and that their existing applications will continue to work with all future OpenRules releases. We cherish the already achieved level of OpenRules’s stability, and we will do our best to support the reputation of the highly reliable, well-supported, efficient, powerful and at the same time user-friendly product. A few years ago, while analyzing different products Forrester Research wrote: “OpenRules have the most-aggressive approaches to business-expert authoring and typically requires less developer support than IBM ILOG, FICO Blaze Advisor, and JBoss BRMS”. This remained true after we added executable decision models, and we expect it will be our guiding approach when we add new features.

We will continue to add features requested by our customers based on the real-world use of our product and the constantly changing surrounding infrastructure.  We will continue to support the DMN standard concentrating on its core practical features and providing an ability to import and execute decision models presented in the DMN XML format. At the same time, we will continue to support and enhance “beyond DMN” features that make OpenRules one of the most powerful yet business friendly Decision Management products. Such features include:

  • Dealing with collections of business objects without forcing our users to do programming
  • Further simplification of arithmetic and logical expressions inside decision tables with an easy access to the standard and custom functions
  • Not forcing users to define everything in rules to make sure that their decision models produce only one decision (the current DMN requirement). Instead, OpenRules will advance its abilities to find multiple alternative decisions, and even to find optimal decisions based on specified business objectives
  • Automatically finding dependencies between all decision variables within a decision model without forcing a user to specify information and knowledge requirements
  • An ability to automatically discover the execution sequence of different decision tables
  • Building domain-specific decision models
  • Integration with Amazon Alexa for Business.

More strategic features are related to practical Knowledge Management. In 2003, we started OpenRules as a semantic web company but absence of practical results at that time forced us to limit our business to rule engines which made business logic executable. Today, we continue our R&D activities and plan to transform business decision models closer to ontologies and to the objectives initially formulated by the Semantic Web movement (that by itself made an essential progress over these years). Our customers may expect to see the following capabilities gradually implemented in the future releases:

  • Configuring new decision models from existing domain-specific libraries of decision models
  • Goal-oriented decisioning:
    • A user specifies target decision variable(s) and a decision model automatically finds their values in a particular business context
    • A user formulates a goal (business objective) and a decision model automatically finds an execution path to this goal
  • Making decision across multiple inter-connected decision models.

So, stay tuned: The 15-year-old OpenRules (as the decision and knowledge management community in general) has a lot of ambitious goals and our research and development directions aimed at overcoming these challenges.

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