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Editor's Note:This two-part package looks at today's dominant tool for business process modeling, Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN). Here, Part I provides background on BPMN's evolution. Part II digs deeper into why BPMN use is increasing and where the standard is likely to be headed.



The process modeling world has a long and somewhat arcane history, rife with half-forgotten acronyms and buzzwords. Arcane or not, what's clear is that process modeling standards have only grown more important over time, as business analysts and IT analysts and architects have sought tools that could enhance their ability to create models and build systems and processes.

The origins of the dominant tool for process modeling notation, Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN), lie with the Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI). The initiative was established in 2000 as a consortium of companies involved in e-business. BPMI aimed to promote the development of BPM; it also fostered development of XML-based Business Process Modeling Language (BPML) and Business Process Query Language (BPQL). Eventually, the BPMI effort also yielded BPMN, which has since been adopted as a standard by the Object Management Group (OMG). The group maintains the standard and offers additional BPMN resources.

Bruce Silver, an independent BPMN consultant, author and training specialist, says BPMN was first created to provide notation for BPML. Since then, it's evolved into a more general modeling notation. Its first version, BPMN 1.0, was finalized in 2006; a minor update, BPMN 1.1, emerged in 2007. BPMN 1.2, which has achieved much wider use, was released early in 2009.

Jon Siegel, OMG's vice president for technology transfer, explains that the numbering system normally reflects the practice of moving from alpha and beta versions to a more mature and stable version marked by whole number. However, in this case, Version 1.2 "was actually the more mature release," he explains. A second "stable and mature" version of BPMN--Version 2.0, with significant changes compared to the 1.2 version--was released early in 2010.

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