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ILOG Rules for .NET integrates with Office 2007, .NET 3.0

By tying into Microsoft Office 2007 and the .NET Framework 3.0, ILOG Rules for .NET aims to ease the process of crafting and deploying business rules.

ILOG Rules for .NET 3.0, the latest business rules management system (BRMS) for .NET from ILOG, introduces integration with Microsoft Office 2007 and the .NET Framework 3.0. The former aims to make life easier for business analysts and other end users, while the latter addresses the needs of developers and architects.

Chris Berg, product manager at ILOG, recently chatted with about the philosophy around which the company built Rules for .NET 3.0.This philosophy centers on three BRMS principles that ILOG aims to improve -- agility, deployment and developer-user interaction.

To address the latter issue, Rules for .NET 3.0 has added a Rules Studio for developers and a Rules tab within Office 2007 for end users.

Rules Studio is integrated with Visual Studio 2005; it lets developers express rules around a model and take advantage of IntelliRule, a feature similar to the code completion lifesaver that is IntelliSense. End users, on the other hand, can edit and manage business rules through a Rules tab in the Office 2007 "Ribbon" user interface.

"The developer data model is imported and the business user sees the concepts, not the code or the objects," Berg explained. "The user can make changes to the rule and then send it back to Visual Studio for the developer to work on."

As for agility and deployment, both are addressed through integration with the .NET Framework 3.0, particularly Windows Communication Foundation, Windows Workflow Foundation and BizTalk Server. This combination of SOA tools allows new and updated business rules to be shared via a Web service. As Berg put it, all applications that act as a SOA client will receive that decision "in a hot manner," which offers a substantial improvement over the static phases of the software development life cycle.

For ILOG, WCF is an attractive SOA platform because architects are likely to be using it already, Berg noted. Microsoft's continuing outreach through its Industry Partners program and its Business Process Alliance, which ILOG joined in December, doesn't hurt either. Nor does the ability to align Rules for .NET with more than a dozen Microsoft Products, from Visual Studio 2005 and the .NET 3.0 suite to SharePoint 2007.

"We're really keen on being able to do this with Microsoft," said Desmond Delandro, ILOG's vice president of strategic alliance. Meanwhile, membership in the Business Process Alliance gives ILOG and other partners key access to Oslo, Microsoft's SOA vision encompassing future versions of Visual Studio, the .NET Framework and BizTalk Server.

Other new features of ILOG Rules for .NET 3.0 include FastPath, which executes business rules in a sequential fashion and, as a result, improves performance for certain project types.

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