Thursday, 26 March 2009

Problem with OpenESB BPEL assign

After far too many cycles staring at code, building, deploying, debugging and undeploying a pretty simple composite application, the damn BPEL assign activity still causes selectionFailure at runtime.

The BPEL is trivial, and the BPEL copy elements for optional elements in the source schema are marked with the ignoreMissingFromData attribute.  I have rebuilt everything from scratch.  I know the redeployments are successful because the error reports points to the correct line following an edit and I can use the BPEL debugger to step through the assign, eventually failing on the optional element.

I was given the hint about the ignoreMissingFromData attribute by Michael Czapski, in a blog comment.  Googling around for more help, I came across a few other postings, and discovered that the attribute could be placed at the process level or at the individual copy activity level. Jeff Sexton also has a nice post on the assign issue.

In Michael’s tutorial he does in fact place the attribute at the process level (see p.95 of the PDF document which accompanies his tutorial). Placing it at the process level is not very attractive because it will mask the absence of mandatory fields.

When placed at the copy element level, it seems to fail. Here’s the error I see, as output in the GlassFish console window:

BPCOR-6151:The process instance has been terminated because a fault was not handled; Fault Name is {}selectionFailure; Fault Data is null
com.sun.jbi.engine.bpel.core.bpel.exception.StandardException: I18N: BPCOR-3023: Selection Failure occurred in BPEL({}bpHL7Processor) at line 28!
BPCOR-6129:Line Number is 26
BPCOR-6130:Activity Name is Assign1

Note the line numbers in the above report: the first of these (line 28) is where the selection failure actually occurred, line 26 is the opening tag of the enclosing assign activity element.  Here’s a shot of the source so you can see the corresponding line numbers. I placed all the optional elements together at the start of the assign:


So why doesn’t this work? Is this a bug? Perhaps I’ve run into something which only works in the JavaCAPS product and not in OpenESB?  Shame.

Another unfortunate discovery is that the OpenESB UI in NetBeans 6.5 doesn’t seem to support adding the ignoreMissingFromData at the process level.  In Michael’s PDF he selects the top-level BPEL process scope and uses the property panel to set this attribute.  It doesn’t appear to exist in NB 6.5. In the shot below I’ve tried to capture the same UI as in Michael’s tutorial:


Note there’s nothing below the ‘Documentation’ entry: presumably this is additional UI support which you get in the commercial JCAPS product. I’m not that concerned with the missing UI, as long as I can add the attribute in the XML source.  So I edited the BPEL XML, using Michael’s tutorial source as a guide. It’s easy to add the process-level attribute; only the namespace prefix had to be changed:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

So another clean/build/deploy and … it still didn’t work. So now I’m stuck, and I hate being stuck. It’s almost enough to put me off the product.

The impression I get is that BPEL is great for very simple maps and transforms, but anything complex quickly becomes awkward. I haven’t gone beyond ‘simple’ so far, so I’m getting a little concerned. The pretty visual tools and NetBeans integration are cool, but the complexity overhead seems high. It reminds me of Microsoft’s BizTalk product from a few years back – a lot of fiddly config, and not being able to ‘see the wood for the trees’. 

But I want to persevere with OpenESB: something about this product suggests that you need to reach a certain level of enlightenment, after which everything becomes clear and the benefits outweigh the overheads. I’m just not there yet.

Technorati Tags: ,,


  1. Have you posted this issue to users@openesb?

    Also, you mention that you are using NB6.5. Which version of openesb are you using? The stable v2 build only works with NB 6.1. The latest milestone build for v2.1 has been upgraded to use NB 6.5


  2. NetBeans 6.5 packages the old bits for enterprise pack/SOA. Latest bits can be downloaded from Stable build here packages NetBeans 6.1, nightly build packages NetBeans 6.5. All the features you are looking for available in either build.

    If something is not working as you expected please send a mail to user group,

  3. @jasonb: I haven't posted to the group yet because I assumed this was unlikely to be a bug and much more likely a mistake on my part.

    Thanks for the milestone build info: I will download and try this. If I still see the issue, I'll post a message.

    @Anonymous: Thanks for the info on bits: will post to the group if problem persists.

  4. This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!