W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-ws-chor@w3.org > May 2003

Re: Co-ordination protocol and BPEL

From: Assaf Arkin <arkin@intalio.com>
Date: Thu, 22 May 2003 11:48:38 -0700
Message-ID: <3ECD1B86.5060404@intalio.com>
To: "Furniss, Peter" <Peter.Furniss@choreology.com>
CC: Ricky Ho <riho@cisco.com>, public-ws-chor@w3.org

Furniss, Peter wrote:

>For the sequence case, unless the first message is explicitly defined as
>being the first of a conversation, and that definition says that a
>context on it is implicit to the rest of the conversation, I'd kind of
>assume that each message has it's own context. Of course, these could
>always be the same context, meaning each of them are part of the same
There's a difference between programming languages and process 
languages. In a programming language you may end up getting dirty with 
the details, you want the maximum amount of flexibility to do the most 
complicated things. In the process language you are trying to simplify 
the work of writing these definitions and you don't need to get into the 

Writing process definitions in Java is very expensive because it's a 
lower level language, and you would rather use more suitable and easier 
to work with languages to get that done. Writing low-level components is 
something best done in Java, C#, VB or similar languages. There needs to 
be a clear division here. Sure, we could make the process language as 
capable as Java, but then what have we brough to the table: another 
language that is as complex as Java, just written using XML?

What we're trying to do is not rob anyone of the capability to create 
really complicated systems, only let them simplify the work by dividing 
the labor between languages that are suited for dealing with the 
processes and languages that are able to deal with the nitty gritty 
details. So if you do not do funky things you would write them as Java 
components, if you need to specify activity flows you would write them 
as BPEL processes, and if you need both you'll write a process and a set 
of components and use them together.

The process language doesn't entirely rob you of capabilities, it's just 
based on the assumption that you mean what you say and you say what you 
mean. If you meant for multiple activities to be part of the same 
context, you write them as part of some scope, and if you ment for them 
to be in separate contexts you write them in separate scopes. That saves 
you the problem of writing a lot of activities and a lot of 
scope-handling logic to go along with it. If nothing else, it's more 

>There's also the option (in BA and BTP) that the receiver registers
>multiple participants, one for each receive (or, indeed, more than one).
>If the context declares that the decision will be atomic (i.e. the same
>for all participants), then how many participants there are, and how the
>work is partitioned among them is a concern only of the receiver.
Whether you register all the participants with the original context or 
interpose is an implementation detail, and a process engine can do it 
any way it wants. The specification as I read it is generic enough to 
let the process engine decide how to do it. BPEL should be "loosely 
coupled" as well, in the sense that it should let the process engine do 
it the way it feels right and not specify it in the process definition 

>>The important thing here is that you should say what you mean 
>>and mean 
>>what you say. If what you meant is that no work could be completed 
>>unless you received two requests, then that's what should happen. If 
>>someone tries to commit before you completed all the work you 
>>this to be an inconsistent state and vote to rollback. This 
>>means that 
>>you will never do part of the work - either all or nothing.
>Shouldn't the receiver/participant trust the "someone" to mean what they
>say too ? If they said commit in relation to the context they sent, then
>they want a commitment on what they've asked for so far. If the receiver
>can do that to be internally consistent, it should vote commit. It's up
>to the other end to decide what the totatlity is.
In this case the process definition says: I need to do A followed by B 
in order to complete the transaction. The process engine interprets it 
literally to mean, just doing A is not enough, the transaction has not 
reached a consistent state. So if someone asks to commit prematurely, 
the process engine must conclude that at this point (after A) the state 
is not consistent/coherent and so should not be stored and rollsback.

Think of the case where the process definition says "register a flight" 
then "submit payment" to get it booked. If both activities are done then 
the flight is booked. But if someone registers a flight, then has the 
power to coordinate a commit without submitting payment, what would the 
process engine do? It's obvious to the process engine that both steps 
have not been completed, and the right course of action is to rollback 
the transaction.

If the intent was the the second step is optional, then the process 
should have been rewritten to make the second step optional.

>what you do to undo things is surely implementation detail - of no
>concern to the top-end, and not needing to be distinguished in the
>coordination protocol (contra ws-t). "cancel", "compensate" and
>"rollback" all mean "make it not so". The receiver must know its own
>state and work out how to revert, to the best of its ability.
In my opinion there is one coordination protocol that always works, and 
the WS-TX/BA expresses that protocol. You can use it for any type of 

However, when you are doing short lived transactions that can benefit 
from resource locking to simplify rollback, and are fully cancellable, 
you can get better performance if you choose to use 2PC with your RMs. 
This is the only place where you would use 2PC to get better 
performance, delaying updates until the 2PC phase rather than doing 
updates and then compensating for them.

So the 2PC protocol has very specific use in very specific type of 
transactions where it gives you better throughput, but is not applicable 
all over the place.

>Parent-child would be common, but again, if the application+coordination
>protocol combination allows the sender to communicate a different wish,
>it is possible to obey it.
It is also possible to write the process according to that 
specification. Process languages tend to be declarative, and again this 
goes back to say what you mean and mean what you say. If you ment that 
things should be done in some other way - write it so. Don't write a lot 
of case handling logic, but declare it properly up front.

>>>Lets say I'm an airline company.  I don't want to reserve 
>>the seat for
>>>a lengthy period and later cancel it when the passenger change his 
>>>mind.  So my strategy is to only book the seat when the customer 
>>>commits its purchase.  After that, I don't refund (so not 
>>>compensatable from the passenger's perspective).
>>>The original state of the seat is "available".  When the passenger 
>>>invoke my "TicketBookingService", the seat is marked 
>>>"potentially-booked".  When the transaction commit 
>>successfully, the 
>>>seat status to be "booked".  After that, it is non-compensatable.
>>>How do I achieve this if I only have the CompensationHandler ?
>excellent example - you are getting pushed out of shape by a protocol
>that thinks it knows how the world always works, and this bit doesn't.
Let's not confuse the protocol with the language. Ricky's question 
relates to the language which doesn't even have to use this protocol. 
The language would let you use compensation handler without necessarily 
having compensation request (e.g. when handling a fault). On the other 
hand the protocol may ask for compensation which could easily be a 
separate process definition (not a compensation handler) if you 
programmed the engine accordingly. These are two separate things that 
happen to work together, but can also be used separately.


>The general case is
>	perform provisional work such that you can later:
>	make it not so, if so instructed
>	make it finally so, if so instucted
>(slot in as many synonyms for provisional, make it not so, make it so as
>you please)
>so, I agree, you need at least two "handlers". Whether these are defined
>as mainstream and exception, or both as event handlers is mostly a
>matter of how the language works, I think.
>Peter Furniss
>Chief Scientist, Choreology Ltd
>   Cohesions 1.0 (TM)
>   Business transaction management software for application coordination
>web: http://www.choreology.com
>email:  peter.furniss@choreology.com
>phone:  +44 20 7670 1679
>direct: +44 20 7670 1783
>mobile: +44 7951 536168
>13 Austin Friars, London EC2N 2JX

"Those who can, do; those who can't, make screenshots"

Assaf Arkin                                          arkin@intalio.com
Intalio Inc.                                           www.intalio.com
The Business Process Management Company                 (650) 577 4700

This message is intended only for the use of the Addressee and
may contain information that is PRIVILEGED and CONFIDENTIAL.
If you are not the intended recipient, dissemination of this
communication is prohibited. If you have received this communication
in error, please erase all copies of the message and its attachments
and notify us immediately.
Received on Thursday, 22 May 2003 15:55:04 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Friday, 17 January 2020 19:30:05 UTC