Decision Management Methodology

OpenRules has been successfully applied as a foundation for real-world Decision Management Systems. OpenRules covers all major phases of the Business Rules and Decision Management:

  • Decision and Rules Discovery

  • Rules Harvesting

  • Decision Modeling

  • Decision Analysis and Testing (!)

  • Decision Integration

  • Decision Execution in Production environment

  • Decision and Rules Maintenance.


OpenRules provides one of the best support for the OMG standard "Decision Model and Notation (DMN) and actively involved in its improvement. OpenRules also support a methodological approach described in the popular book "The Decision Model".


OpenRules supports cooperative work between Business and Technical Analysts, providing business people with control over the business logic. During Rule Harvesting, business analysts define business concepts, terms and facts, and represent their business rules using MS Excel.  In contrast with most commercial rule engines that provide an Excel-like graphical tool for Rules Management, OpenRules uses Excel directly as the delivery Rule Management Tool.  Enriched with a set of Open Source tools, Excel allows both business and technical people to accomplish rule harvesting, automation, testing, and integration using only this popular and commonly known spreadsheet.  Without any coding, business analysts can create test cases in Excel and can actually EXECUTE their decisions in order to TEST if the expected results are being produced.  Adding a Rule Testing phase into the BR Modeling cycle and keeping business people (not programmers) in control dramatically improves the quality of the resulting business rules repository.

The distinctive feature of OpenRules is that "everything is real".  There are no documents for the sake of documents. Decision models are "executable" and can be tested at any stage of the development process:

  • The results of Rules Harvesting are presented naturally in Excel and are used directly for Rules Automation

  • Automated rules can be executed and tested even before integration with an existing application by using Excel-based test data.

The logic of business rules is clearly separated into components supported by technical people and components supported by non-technical people. IT specialists integrate decisions created by business analysts with their existing business object models without any changes in the business logic. Rules administrators can use the standard MS Excel protection mechanism to provide different groups of people with proper access rights to the rule spreadsheets. Both technical and non-technical users will appreciate the power of this Excel-Java combination.

By providing support of Rules-based Web Dialogs, OpenRules expands the BR approach by giving business people control over the presentation logic as well.  You can model your rules-based business process using Excel as a powerful web form management tool. With OpenRules libraries, you can define layouts of your web pages and relationships among them directly in Excel. A non-technical user can implement dynamic web-based graphical interfaces without any knowledge of HTML, JScript, PHP, JSP, or other popular web development technologies. You can also add decision tables to control complex interaction logic.  In this way Excel can be used to model and execute dynamic web-based interaction processes. 

OpenRules approach uses open source Eclipse, the de-facto standard project management tool for software developers, as a powerful IDE for rule integration within a Java-based development environment. Complex Java projects with extensive rules components can be organized and maintained under Eclipse with the OpenRules Plugin.  Eclipse naturally provides a powerful version control mechanism for Excel-based rules and related source code files. Eclipse is used for code editing, debugging, and testing of rule projects. With OpenRules Plugin business rules can be deployed as a Web Application or a Web Service and can be integrated with any Java or .NET applications.

Note. Does the use of MS Excel mean you are doomed to use MS Windows only? Not at all!
You do not need Excel to run(!) OpenRules-based decisions. For example, your Java-based application can run under Unix using xls-files as regular data files. Additionally, one may prefer to use OpenOffice or Google Docs to create and edit xls-files rather than MS Excel.