Tuesday, 29 January 2008


After writing the last piece it struck me that I had unintentionally suggested that BPEL and XPDL are somehow competing for the same role, which just isn't right. This post is an excellent summary of the true position - roughly, XPDL for process description, BPEL for programming.

So what I think I'm most interested in is using a combination of these two, treating the design of a workflow-driven solution as a layered artifact. The XPDL is relatively technology-neutral: the description is an abstraction which can be shared across an enterprise (or even between enterprises) because it doesn't commit to implementation details.

The XPDL layer would then be used to drive the BPEL layer, where processes and activities which appear as abstractions at the XPDL layer are translated into concrete actions (and transactions) against real systems or service endpoints.

When I get some time (!) I plan to experiment with this combination, to see how practical it is for modelling an existing healthcare workflow I've been involved in.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

VS 2008 - Finally

Installing .NET 3.5 from scratch was the answer. This took two attempts; the first failed because the installer told me that 3.5 was already installed!  The only things I could find which suggested 3.x was the XPS Viewer, which appears under .NET Framework 3.0 in the 'Windows Features' part of the programs control panel applet. Anyway, with 3.5 installed, the VC# 2008 installer finally ran to completion and VC# appears to run fine.

Why did this have to take so long and give me so much grief?  Why doesn't Vista display the .NET framework in the add/remove programs panel?  Googling about this I discover that Microsoft wants us to consider the framework as part of the OS, and not something which can be installed or removed.  This seems ridiculous, given that you can download and run the installers for the various frameworks and it can still be important to know which version(s) are installed.

This is another one of those stupid, stupid, unnecessary things which will drive some folk away from Windows and into the arms of Apple (or even the Linux community).

VS2008 Installer - part 2

Well, the network install fared no better. This is very frustrating and also puzzling, because this is a new Vista install (albeit an OEM install on a new laptop) and as far as I can tell there are none of the VS2008 or even .NET Framework 3.5 components already installed: I've suffered in the past when trying out early-access releases, when stuff isn't properly uninstalled, but in this case there's nothing to uninstall.

So, next step is to start with the .NET framework alone, and work up from there.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Visual Studio Express 2008 Installer

Bit disappointed with the latest VS Express 2008 installer - I've download the 'kitchen sink' ISO image (containing all the VS Express editions), but when I try to install VC#, I get these errors:

and this one:

Because this is a new laptop (therefore a fresh Vista install) I did wonder whether this was a Windows Installer service issue, but the service is there and appears to be the latest version.  I'm puzzled, and more than slightly irritated.  It must be something simple - I'll no doubt kick myself when I discover what it is.  Meantime, I'll try the network install.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

FEBE for Firefox

I recently got a shiny new laptop, which is great, but usually this means installing and configuring a lot of stuff before it's really a comfortable place to be.  I'm sure this is familiar to most folk.  I expected one of the biggest challenges to be Firefox, as I have a number of plugins, a lot of passwords and the usual bookmarks and preferences. 

Luckily, I found FEBE, a Firefox addin which effectively solves this problem.  The addon can be found on the Mozilla site here, but the author's own site has the latest version - there seems to be quite a big version gap.

To take all of my settings to the new machine I used the 'Full Profile' option in FEBE which creates a single file containing absolutely everything: I did try experimenting with a subset but it wasn't successful.  If you're not familiar with Firefox profiles I strongly suggest reading this section of the FAQ on the author's site and follow the instructions.

Monday, 14 January 2008


I expect plenty of other people will have enjoyed (endured?) this piece; I'm posting the link while I'm simultaneously laughing and giving thanks that I'm not him.  This is serious, hard-core bitterness and resentment. This man needs help.

But the thing is, somewhere in that mountain of bile there are some grains of truth: in particular, some of his comments about consultancies ('The Hysteria of Consultancy' about half way down), and the kind of people encountered from time to time:

They then
build the team and dole out the positions: Software Architect to the shithead
who can’t code; Project Manager to the MBA asshole who talks like a car
salesman ... <snip>

Yep, I've met those two.