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Andrey Mikhalchuk’s Blog

Technoblog about life

Apr 8, 2013 How to call Oracle Policy Automation via SOAP/WSDL

As you probably read in my other post, OPA is a great alternative to the Oracle Business Rules (OBR) as all the business logic could be exposed via web services. Unfortunately Oracle didn’t leave us much documentation about how to do that. So if you’re wondering how do you call OPA determinations server, here is an example:

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Mar 2, 2013 Configuring Oracle Policy Automation Determinations Server runtime pluggability as an alternative to Oracle Business Rules

It looks like not many people know about this, but Oracle actually has two business rule engines. One is called OBR (Oracle Business Rules) and it is bundled with SOA suite. The other one has less meaningful name OPA (Oracle Policy Automation) and at the first glace serves totally different purpose of generating a nice web questionnaire from a word doc with specs. Fortunately the company that originally developed OPA (RuleRust/Haley) was cleaver about decomposing functionality and Oracle inherited this cleaver design after purchasing Haley.

OPA consists of three parts:
– Determinations Engine – a library you can use in your .net or java program, does all the business logic evaluation
– Web Determinations – the part that runs the web surveys and uses the DE for making decisions
– Determinations Server – that’s the part that wraps the DE and exposes it in the form of a web service. Essentially it does the same thing OBR does.

The way OPA works is
– you write your business rules specs using more-or-less plain english in a word or excel document
– markup your rules with OPA toolbar (part of MS office only, sorry)
– compile your rules using the same OPA toolbar
– build a package containing rules from multiple source using Oracle Policy Modeling – a standalone tool, part of OPA package. Also windows only, also sorry.
– you upload the package to the application server
Since the package contains the DE all your business logic becomes a web service you can consume just like OBR.

This is all cool and in fact OPA works much faster than OBR in 98% of cases, supports bulk processing and overall awesome. But it’s not quite as friendly as OBR in terms of editing the business rules, right? BPM Workspace doesn’t see these rules and you can’t modify the rules in runtime.

Fortunately there is a way to make it more friendly. Here’s how…

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Jan 25, 2013 Uploading OPA rulesets to Determinations Server

Oracle Policy Automation is a great tool for maintaining all your business logic in a word file instead of the app source code. In one of my projects I needed a business-analyst-friendly interface for changing business logic in a business process. Regular Oracle Business Rules work fine for up to a dozen of rules, then it is very easy to loose track. OPA makes a great replacement for OBR where you need non-developers to specify rules.

Just like most Oracle product OPA was invented by someone else (RuleBurst) and for something else (Siebel). It works fine with Oracle products thanks to SOA, but the level of integration is quite low at the moment (Jan 2013, 11gR2). So after building the rulesets from a Word or Excel file all you get is a .zip file you’re supposed to upload to your app server, in particular to the determinations.server.war/WEB-INF/classes/rulebases. This is a not an easy-to-remember path sitting deep in the tree and it could be problematic to change it. Let’s change it …

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