I recently stumbled across some articles on WS-BPEL. BPEL stands for Business Process Execution Language. At first this caught my attention because, well, it sounded like some potentially slick DSL that would help describe business rules and execute them. Slapped in front of a good domain-specific API, something like this could help slash development time. Of course, such things are usually little more than pipe dreams, but today’s pipe dream is tomorrow’s brave new world. So, it is always better to keep an eye on things.

Perhaps the first tip off that this had nothing new to offer is that BSPEL is based on XML. Seriously, how can much good come from XML? Even the few times where the end result is cool (like WSDL and SOAP), a better interchange format could have been chosen. Imagine, for example, a YAML or JSON based web services platform? With wider support that would just rock. But I digress.

Here is a tutorial of sports on WS-BPEL. When you get past the buzz words and the fancy terminology, you have an XML based scripting language to tie basic web services together. Pretty disappointing. After looking at the examples, I do not see any way that this wins out over using Java, C#, or PHP. It is quite a stretch to refer to what this thing does as having anything to do with "business processes". Even an IBM reference on the subject just shows a few simple control mechanisms joined up with the ability to call web services.

So, if you have seen this used in the wild to an efficacy above and beyond typical programming or scripting languages, please drop me a line or a comment—because this looks like buzzword tag soup.