BPEL – Opening Up Applications for Digital Repositories?

 At a recent workshop for the eFramework there  was a session discussing experiences in using “BPEL” (Business Process Execution Language) in the RepoMMan project. BPEL allowed the RepoMMan to use web services provided by the Fedora Repository to bring the workflow process out of the repository in a configurable manner. Significantly, the engine that runs the BPEL instructions can also access other web services.

This seems like an important development, demonstrating how a generic repository could be wrapped within a more application-specific workflow, so avoiding the need for an application-specific repository. This makes a good companion to the ability of a repository to support multiple metadata application profiles.  Assessment “item banks” could be a good test case for the utility of BPEL. For example, a recent report on item bank requirements for repositories identifies the policies around access and capture/storage/access of usage data. Projects such as Minibix are developing the state of the art in item banking and should provide the baseline for further exploration, but we should not expect the full service oriented vision, BPEL and all, to be upon us soon. But you never know…

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