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About the Open Business Engine

Welcome to the Open Business Engine. OBE is a flexible, modular, standards-compliant Open Source Java workflow engine. It is fully J2EE compliant, and supports several J2EE application servers, operating systems and databases. It faithfully implements Workflow Management Coalition Open Standards (WfMC), to which it offers a variety of extensions and enhancements. OBE is equally suited to embedded or standalone deployment.


OBE supports the following Open Standards from the Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC):
Interface 1 - XPDL
The XML Process Definition Language
Interface 2/3 - WAPI
The Workflow & Tool Agent APIs
Interface 4 - Wf-XML
Workflow Interoperability. Wf-XML support will be added in a future OBE release.
Interface 5 - Audit
Audit Data

Extensible, Flexible

OBE is highly configurable and extensible, and many aspects can be customized. The runtime engine relies upon pluggable services to provide authentication, authorization, persistence, task assignment, inbound event handling and outbound integration capabilities. OBE provides a workflow lifecycle event notification framework to support integration with workflow enabled applications.

OBE supports automated, manual and mixed workflow processes, and has extensible work item allocation and activity completion algorithms. Activities are automated through an extensible system of Tool Agents, which enable the invocation of external logic defined in Java classes, EJBs, native executables, scripts in arbitrary scripting languages, Web Services, and so on. Human interactions are managed through work items, which can be purely manual or can provide the means to invoke the appropriate software tools. OBE provides a worklist API and worklist clients to manage work items.


OBE was originated in mid-2002 by Anthony Eden. In late 2002 Zaplet, Inc. (now MetricStream) adopted it to workflow-enable their Zaplet 3 product and went on to make major contributions to the architecture and functionality; Zaplet's Adrian Price took over as architect and lead developer. In 2004 Adrian was invited to contribute material on XPDL to a new textbook on workflow technology 1, which culminated in the completion of the workflow functionality and the creation of several example workflows that are now included with OBE. The 1.0 release of OBE occurred on 1st January, 2006.


OBE has been incorporated into a number of commercial product offerings. One of the most interesting was undoubtedly the Zaplet 3 CBPM (Collaborative Business Process Management) solution, because this product was in use by a number of United States government departments including the CIA and the Terrorist Threat Information Center ('TTIC'). In fact, it is OBE that drives the process of producing the daily Terrorist Threat Matrix report for the President of the USA. At the time of writing no information is available as to the current status of the latter application.

Other commercial products and services which use OBE include:

If your company is using OBE and you would like a mention in the preceeding list, please contact the file:///C:/obe/docs/about/author.html Sourceforge OBE Users List.

Development Platform

Most development work on OBE is performed on Red Hat Fedora Core Linux, JBoss and MySQL, using the IDEA Java IDE from IntelliJ and also Eclipse. HTML is developed using the Nvu Open Source WYSIWYG HTML editor. Graphics and images were prepared using The GIMP and OpenOffice.

Technologies & Standards

OBE uses the following APIs, technologies and standards:

Open Source

OBE uses many Open Source components, including:

1Process-Aware Information Systems - Bridging People and Software Through Process Technology, Marlon Dumas, Wil M. P. van der Aalst, Arthur H. ter Hofstede, John Wiley & Sons, 2005. ISBN: 0-471-66306-9. Copyright 2005 by John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York. All rights reserved.