Business rules define how an application behaves. For instance, an electronic commerce application might contain rules which define how many items a customer can order, based on his or her credit. A standard Web application consisting of static HTML pages collects data entered by a user and sends it across the Net for processing on a server. If the order contains invalid information, in violation of business rules, the entire order is rejected, and a message is sent back across the network asking the user to reenter valid data.
Ilog's tool is intended, at least in part, to eliminate those network roundtrips and the resulting delays and frustration for end users. The company already sells a C++ version of the tool. The new Java version allows developers to add client- or server-based rules processing to Java applications. The feature examines the information entered into forms and can warn users of invalid entries, before sending the data off to servers. That could speed up application response time, said Dave Taber, vice president of marketing at Ilog.
Another feature of the tool is the ability to easily change business rules, said Taber. For instance, a stock brokerage may want to offer customers a discount on broker fees for a limited time. Standard applications hard-coded in C++ or Java might be difficult to change, or could require new software in order to process the discounted fees. Using Rules for Java, developers can rejigger business rules and download a new version of the rules to users' browsers along with the Java application. Rules stored on the server are even easier to change.
Rules for Java ships next week. It works with most Java tools and is priced at $6,250 per developer license.