Translate programs into processes

Issue 3, 2015

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Visualize processes with Natural Engineer ARIS Interface

Business architects need to review, change and create new business processes. Unfortunately, business know-how is often hidden in the technical implementation of the processes—the applications and programs. Business architects are not programmers and don’t understand the code behind business processes. The challenge is to transform the technical knowledge of applications in a way that business architects can understand the flow of the business processes.

Natural Engineer ARIS Interface

Natural Engineer ARIS Interface was developed to transform technical information into a process representation easily understood by business architects as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Technical Implementation (i.e., source code) vs. Process Representation in ARIS

How does it work?

Natural Engineer analyzes a Natural application and stores all necessary information in the Natural Engineer repository. This includes information about the flow of objects, the dependencies between objects and the flow inside every single object. An object can be any type of a Natural object (i.e., program, subprogram or subroutine). Natural Engineer also identifies inter-relationships between libraries, if Steplibs are used. Technicians can leverage this information, not only to learn about an application, but also to maintain and make appropriate changes to an application with minimal risk of side effects.  How can this information now be leveraged by business architects and analysts?

The Natural Engineer ARIS Interface makes Natural Engineer knowledge available to business architects & analysts by presenting it in a Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN™) diagram in ARIS through an XML-based interface.  This diagram can then be documented and business architects can optimize and create new processes.

If the Natural Engineer ARIS Interface creates an XML file that represents the structure of a Natural object, the metadata of the model is stored in the Natural Engineer repository. For each model, a version number is assigned so that models can be compared at a later time and the differences can be shown in ARIS after the new model has been imported (planned for next version).    

Setting attributes

Natural Engineer ARIS Interface generates XML that contains a representation of the Natural source code. In order for this to be shown within ARIS, a new Attribute Type with the name ObjectSource Code must be added and linked as Allowed Attributes to ARIS Object Types (i.e., Event, Function & Rule). ARIS will allocate a Global Unique Identifier (GUID) to this attribute.

The GUID is unique to each installed ARIS Server. In order to import the XML with the correct GUID, Natural Engineer needs this GUID value added to the NATENG.INI file in the ARIS section as:




Creating the ARIS model

Using the ARIS interface window of the Natural Engineer ARIS Interface, a new model for an object can be created. The object can be a Natural or a COBOL source code object that has been loaded into the Natural Engineer repository. The user can select an application and object from a list, then choose a new model name and version number for the model before generating the XML file in the Natural Engineer data directory.

Figure 2: Sample of a Generated XML File

Before importing the XML file to ARIS, the user creates a database within ARIS and then selects the XML file from the Natural Engineer data directory using the Explorer of ARIS Architect.  

After the import, the new models that have been created from the XML file can be seen. Simply open the model to view the graphical representation.

Within the model, various links exist between ARIS and the Natural Engineer Web Interface. Select the first element within a model, then press PF7. This will either show the Object Summary details of the main model or the source code related to internal subroutines within the Natural Engineer Web Interface.

Figure 3: Model in ARIS Business Process Modeling Notation

Business architects and engineers seamlessly work together

After the models for an application are made available to ARIS, business architects can benefit and use the models for review and documentation. They can add new business processes and also change and optimize business processes. This information can then be made available for the software engineers to implement the new business logic in the programs or to modify the existing programs.

Then propagating the new or changed programs to ARIS again, the changes can be compared (planned for next version) and reviewed. Using this process, business architects and technical experts can work perfectly together. The Natural Engineer ARIS Interface is a new add-on product to Natural Engineer. Products from the ARIS product line, like ARIS Architect leverage this way ideally the application information contributed by Natural products.