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Agile Platform 5.0 Unifies App Development and BPM

12.02.2009
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Agile Platform is OutSystems' solution for unifying two lifecyles: application development and business process management (BPM).  The Agile environment enables the automation of business processes and the delivery of web applications built for continuous change.  OutSystems recently unveiled the newest version of its platform, Agile Platform 5.0.  The company has a free Community Edition available for small teams.  DZone spoke with OutSystems' VP, Mike W. Jones, about Agile Platform and the 5.0 release.

Jones says the Agile Platform is meant to, "integrate, develop, deploy, monitor and change web apps and business processes - delivering business value in weeks rather than months or years."  The platform was introduced in 2001 and has four main components:

Service Studio
A desktop environment for the development of web applications and business processes.  It enables the production of Web 2.0 User Interfaces, Business Logic, Business Processes, Databases, Integration Components, Web Services, Security Rules, and Scheduling activities.

Integration Studio

A desktop environment for the creation of custom integration components.  Integration Studio works with Eclipse and Microsoft Visual Studio to build adapters for databases, library APIs, and third party applications.  Here's a demo of an integration with SAP.

Service Center
A web console for operational management of the platform and generated applications.  It provides version control, and config management, and performance monitoring.  

Embedded Change Technology
An automated collaboration mechanism that gathers feedback from running web apps.  Users can post comments right on the web application's page for developers and managers to see.

Here is an example of the BPM development workflow


Jones says Agile Platform has been used for customer or partner portals, employee intranets, enterprise-wide workflows, customer relationship management or call center applications, and other types of business-specific support applications.  "Typically, these projects share similar deployment patterns: various integrations with back-end systems to retrieve and store data with requirements that are very specific to each company’s business; the set of initial requirements are fuzzy or supposed to evolve during the project, requiring an extra degree of flexibility to adapt and release updates very often," said Jones.

Agile Platform is usually deployed in the context of a custom development project to solve one specific business problem.  Jones explains "The first project within a customer, usually takes from no less than 2 weeks to no more than 18 weeks. Project plans are organized in 2-week iterations during which, the Agile Platform is used by development teams to design, build and test a sub-set of the project."  

The recently released 5.0 version of Agile Platform adds a new business process technology layer that extends process modeling objects for defining human-to-system interactions.  The integrated IDE for Agile Platform now has improved web service integration support and simplified support for multi-lingual applications.  The Agile Platform "TrueChange" engine has also received improvements.  TrueChange now collects existing process runtime activity and alerts you when there are potentially conflicting changes applied to the business process design.

Wessels showed DZone a blog post about a study conducted this year by Atos Origin.  The study concluded that Aglie Platform is "22% cheaper for Agile software development. With OutSystems, the study delivered equal levels of quality in a shorter time period even with an increased workload."

DZone asked Jones what the roadmap for Agile Platform looked like.  He said, "In the near future, we expect to offer real-time collaborative development, taking advantage of cloud computing technologies. Together with our unique 1-click staging and deployment technologies, we’ll be able to support loosely connected, geographically dispersed communities of application development and IT management professionals to deploy highly complex web applications using Agile Methodologies."

You can download the Community Edition of Agile Platform here.