Thursday, February 8, 2007

Debugging Business Rules in JBoss Rules 3.1

If you've spent any time using a business rule engine, particularly one that uses an approach like Rete, you've probably heard people argue that they're difficult to understand.

This is basically true. Business rule engines do a lot of the work for you; they determine which rules are relevant to the facts that have been asserted and in what order they should be run. This is often a strength, but when it comes to comprehension and debugging, it can be a weakness. It can be hard to imagine what's going to happen, and perhaps worse, hard to understand what just happened when you run a particular scenario.

There are usually ways to resolve this: tools and techniques that are provided by the rule engine vendor that help you to look inside of the black box. So it's nice to see that JBoss Rules (aka Drools) is enhancing this side of their tooling. I know this could counter some objections I'd previously heard.

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