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Drools, BRMS and Revolutions

Greetings, Programs:

If your are a member of the Dallas Rules Group (DRG) and you don’t subscribe already to the Drools RSS feed at, maybe you might should since most of “All Things DRG” are Drools-centric. Of particular interest is the “latest and greatest” early editions of version 5 from the Drools Team for two reasons:

(1) The Drools Team is beginning the late-September release of Drools 5 that will include a BRMS implementation. Admittedly, their initial implementation might be just a bit behind that of ILOG or Fair Isaac BUT, and this is the important part, it includes basic BRMS functionality AND (wait for it…. wait… here it comes…..) DROOLS IS FREE.

(2) The Drools team lives on the globe. Literally. Mark Proctor (their fearless leader) is in London. Edson Terelli is in Canada. Mic Neale is in Australia. And the others are scattered around the globe. BUT they work together to produce a product that is making giant leaps and bounds from that “freeware” tag into what used to be the exclusive domain of $20K or $50K starter BRMS tools.

Here’s another thing: More and more companies are using shareware or freeware products such as Linux, Open Office, Java, Eclipse, Net Beans, JBoss to run those $500K (final installed price) BRMS packages. Now they’re going to have another really good package to add in there; Drools. The line between commercial BRMS vendors and freeware vendors is becoming more and more blurred and, with the next year or two, should disappear altogether.

Remember when JBoss was free and big companies would not use it because it did not have “support” from a “real” vendor? So they paid through the nose for BEA (formerly Tuxedo) Web Logic (now owned by Oracle) or IBM Web Sphere. And all of the software ran on either Sun Solaris or IBM AIX. But then “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum” – small companies, then bigger companies and bigger companies started using Linux, that Unix work-a-like for Linus Torvalds. Totally unexpected. Fast forward three years and now major companies are not only using Linux, they are beginning to use JBoss. But they continue to use ILOG, Fair Isaac, Pega, Corticon, Visual Rules, etc. BECAUSE the OPSJ, Drools, CLIPS and Jess folks just could not produce a “real” BRMS product.

So, fast forward three more years – companies at that time were beginning to use Jess and Drools in places where they never did before BECAUSE Jess and Drools were using the Eclipse interface and debugging tools and Ant and all of that other stuff that their geeky programmers loved so much and used anyway – until they got caught and reprimanded. (They used it even after that because they could not get that vaunted “tech support” from the commercial vendors.)

Today we, the BRMS and rulebase programmers, rule engineers and knowledge engineers, stand on the cusp of an historical incident much like the Rete Algorithm gave us almost 30 years ago in 1979: A FREE BRMS !!! It’s coming! The first editions are here! That “pre-alpha” part where there are more problems than features. But judging on the history of the Drools Team, those problems will go away. If you are a BRMS consultant, get ready and be prepared. Meaning you had better download Drools and begin getting used to their syntax rather than that of the big commercial vendors.

My prediction is that within the next three years those dinosaurs of the BRMS world will be rapidly slipping into the tar pits of obscurity and we will have copy-cat BRMS freebies. They won’t be as well done as Drools, but we will begin to see more and more BRMS products (note that I did NOT say more and more rulebased products) that are, for the most part, free. Maybe the Drools logo now should be a giant purple dinosaur surrounded by a large red circle with a bar through it. Meaning, STOP THE DINOSAURS. 🙂



July 4, 2008 Posted by | Rule Stuff | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments