Criticism of webMethods Designer

Hi - I’ve been using webMethods a long time. I recently moved from Developer 8 to Designer 9.6 as part of a platform upgrade.

While there are improvements delivered by the Eclipse Rich Client Platform (notably multi-monitor support), here is some criticism on what Designer can do better. Most relate to the Flow visual language.

Editing existing MAP assignments
This is a common procedure when editing an existing map assignment:

  • Click on a pipeline element (say, in the ‘Pipeline In’ section on the left side).
  • Now, click a pipeline assignment link (or ‘wire’)
  • At this point, in Developer 8, the previously clicked pipeline element is still selected, serving as a visual marker

But in Designer 9, clicking the map link deselects the ‘Pipeline In’ element

Navigating a densely packed MAP
In Developer 8, clicking a MAP link causes both the link and corresponding ‘Pipeline In’ /‘Pipeline Out’ elements on the right and left to expand and show elements involved in the link
In Designer 9, clicking a link does nothing.

Mapping a complex data structure using transformers
In Developer 8, dragging a transformer input or output brings up a ‘Link To/Link From’ context menu, right at the mouse cursor. The appropriate element can be selected with minimal disruption to the task.
In Designer 9, a popup appears elsewhere on screen, that you must navigate to, then navigate back to what you were doing.

Service ‘Layout’ View
The ‘Layout’ view is back in Designer 9 with its own tab.
I recall this view in earlier versions of developer. I think it was removed at some point because it was next-to-useless for service development. Now, it has a non-removable tab in Designer, between the default ‘Tree’ view and ‘Input/Output’. This leads to frustration when a click is misplaced.

Service Comments
Contrast the above to the extremely useful service ‘Comments’ tab. In Developer 8, this tab opened a prominent text area this was commonly used to document Flow services.
This was also fully readable by all developers who wanted to review service documentation.
In Designer 9, it has been reduced to a tiny ‘Comments’ property field.
Further, documentation on existing services is only fully visible if a developer ‘locks’ the service for development.

‘Trace to Here’
Developer 8’s extremely useful ‘Trace to Here’ option enabled single-click debugging.
This is gone in Designer 9, replaced by the more-complicated Eclipse breakpoints and debugger.

Eclipse bookmarks do not work for Flow code.

Eclipse Itself
Eclipse is slow, presents a cluttered UI, and takes a lot of effort to customise and get productive.

Core Development Tools Still Missing
After 15-18 years of webMethods Flow existing, it is still missing core development tools for Flow:

  • Code diff and merge
  • Proper refactoring support for Flow (including updating renamed variable references)
  • Code estimation (e.g. ‘KLOC-equivalent’ metrics).

What gives!?

In sum, a whole lot of effort went into porting Developer to the Eclipse RCP over years. But the spirit and polish of the original are lacking, while common development functionality expected on Eclipse is missing. In the meantime, Netbeans has become the RCP du jour.

I hope SAG takes my feedback in stride. I like webMethods, but innovation must cover the basics to be meaningful.

1 Like

I know your concern here :slight_smile:

You can raise this request on SAG Brainstorm. Lets hope they hear us and add these in the coming release (may be next year)

Hi Sonam,

Rearding ‘Service comments’ request, this feature is available in Designer 9.7.

Kindly use Brainstorm portal and provide your valuable requests.

Software AG is pleased to announce the launch of the new Brainstorm. This portal allows Software AG customers and partners to log Feature Requests for Software AG products and share valuable feedback on Feature Requests submitted by others. The Brainstorm portal can be accessed via the Products & Documentation -> Feature Requests section of Empower.

Some of the new features included in the new Brainstorm portal, built on the AgileApps Live platform, include:

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Thanks guys - I’d been scared off Brainstorm earlier by its complicated enrollment process/agreements. I gave it another try.

Feature request 01969 is created.

Thanks for raising the request.

Please let us know once you receive any information in this regards.

Hi Mahesh - I’ll try, but will most likely forget by the time SAG actions this.

The best way would be to use Brainstorm to track and vote on Feature Request 1969. :smiley:

Hi Sonam -

Thanks for taking the time to provide feedback on wM Designer. Any user feedback is always appreciated. We have made lot of changes/updates to Service Development plug-in in the last few releases and we have a strong roadmap to address some of the pressing issues identified by our users. Here is our response to your questions:-

Editing existing MAP assignments

        The current behavior in Designer is correct and is as expected. In Designer, when a pipeline variable is selected and then user selects a maplink then if the maplink belongs to the same variable then the selection of the variable still remains the same and if  not, it will deselect the variable. In Developer, the selection of the variable remains intact irrespective of the maplink to which it belongs. This leads to some problems while performing other operations like deleting the variables.

Navigating a densely packed MAP

        In a large and complex pipeline, the source and target highlight will not be visible due to visible area constraint otherwise both the source and target will be highlighted and are scrolled to the visible area. This issue is resolved by the Dual scrolling feature. If the Dual Scroll is enabled in the pipeline then the behavior is same as Developer. Dual scrolling in the pipeline view was restored  in Designer 9.5.

Mapping a complex data structure using transformers

       In Developer, the popup comes next to the drop target which is not true in case of Designer. In Designer, we implemented it as a dialog and hence the position of the dialog is not guaranteed to be adjacent to the drop target.

Service ‘Layout’ View

       Service “Layout” view is useful for some of our customers. Hence the view will remain.

Service Comments

     The comments tab was restored in Designer 9.7.

Trace to Here

    Trace to here functionality  is on our backlog. 

Bookmarks are possible with Local Development. Bookmarks for remote servers are not implemented.

Eclipse Itself

 We have made changes that improve Designer performance and make it more accessible to those new to Eclipse.  In Designer 9.7 the default Service Development perspective has been simplified and short cuts that were in Developer are now in Designer as well.  The Service Results view, added in Designer 9.6, greatly simplifies testing services.  We are also looking into ways to create a light weight version of the Service Development plug-in.

Core Development Tools Still Missing

  • Code diff and merge – webMethods R&D is working on this.

  • Proper refactoring support for Flow (including updating renamed variable references) – webMethods R&D is working on this. The feature is slated to come out mid-2015.

  • Code estimation (e.g. ‘KLOC-equivalent’ metrics) – Can you provide more details on your requirements here?




Additional feature which is missing in Designer, but was in place in Developer:

“My Locked Elements” for a fast overview, which elements are locked by the user currently logged in.
Enhance it to show Folders as well as they get locked by creations of Adapter Artifacts, BPM generation etc.
They need to be unlocked either manually from IS Admin or in Designer by unlocking the folder and its content recursively, which might accidentally unlock objects locked by someone else in this tree, if the user has the appropriate rights.


One more thing I would like to add it here is the flow step ‘enable’ and ‘disable’ function. When you right click for this action, it is not visible unless you have to scroll down the end of it to see this. This was easily done in Developer.


Another concern I have is, I am not able to debug the Java service as like flow service. I am using designer 9.6, I am getting the message saying that the Java service cannot be started in Debug mode. I am not sure if this issues is there only for me or everyone.

able to debug the java service will be very useful while writing complicated java services.

Take a look at the Service Development guide for Designer. There is a section on debugging Java services. There are basically a couple of different ways to debug:

  1. To right-click on the service and generate a test harness that allows you to unit test that service
  2. To configure remote debugging

Option #1 requires less setup but option #2 is more powerful and reflects reality much closer because you’re actually debugging the service as it’s running on the IS whereas option #1 is debugging Java code in a local project.


Copy from the ‘variables’ section
Paste into the ‘Pipeline’ section.

It worked in Developer.