How to Build a Business Rules Engine: Extending Application Functionality through Metadata Engineering …

1558609180 - How to Build a Business Rules Engine: Extending Application Functionality through Metadata Engineering ...

Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann
Published: November 2003
Cover type: Paperback, 483 pages
ISBN: 1558609180


Malcolm Chisholm, President,, Holmdel, NJ

· This is the only book that demonstrates how to develop a business rules engine. Covers user requirements, data modeling, metadata, and more. · A sample application is used throughout the book to illustrate concepts. The code for the sample application is available online at · Includes conceptual overview chapters suitable for management–level readers, including general introduction, business justification, development and implementation considerations, and more.

database designers, data modelers, database administrators, software engineers, systems architects, project leader, project manager, programmer, and other IT staff

Reviewed on:9/28/2009 Rating: 1
Review Summary: Too confusing
The book is more focused on business rules engine setup from a physical table design perspective. It fails to clearly elaborate on the modeling of the declarative structure of business rules as ERD and associated table structure. The approach outlined and the examples do not reflect the all categories of business rules. Also it is not clear from the sample application that is provided for download how different category of rules are designed and assembled for transactional working. In fact the sample rules implementation in the book is more associated with (physical) application screen design rather than organizational process logic; also, such implementation could have been more easily done through triggers in an enterprise class DBMS like Oracle than desktop DBMS like Access which lacks such capability.

Reviewed on:3/23/2008 Rating: 4
Review Summary: excellent technology primer for this subject area
As a database designer and programmer for over a decade, I had always wondered how a business rules engine might actually be implemented. What were the neccessary "parts"? What was the overall technology strategy for turning documented rules into executable actions? What might an interface need to look like, and what functionality would it need to offer to support a working business rules engine? All these questions are answered in this book. The implementation design provided (as working code in Microsoft Access and VBA) is not "enterprise" ready in the sense that is would support hundreds of users and tens of thousands of business rules. But it is a comprehensive "proof of concept" – with working code – that clearly addresses design and implementation strategies and methods required for these engines. This book has now surely given me more understanding about how these engines can work than probably anyone else has in my organization of over 1000 employees (that admittedly has never implemented this type of funtionality but may very well need to do so sometime in the future).

Prerequisites for understanding this tutorial would be sound understanding of relational database theory (what effective information processing systems do not require this understanding?), good basic understanding of conventional database development concepts, as well as understanding of typical data processing required for both interactive data entry and batch processing of data.

Reviewed on:1/3/2007 Rating: 1
Review Summary: Disappointing
This book was very disappointing, for several reasons: Firstly, I find it hard to believe that with the author‘s supposed years of expertise in this area, he advocates the design approach that is contained in this book – an approach that seems to be at odds with modern commercially–available rules engines. Secondly, he then spends most of the book building a "rules engine" and most of the book seems to be a "how to build" manual for this piece of software, which I can‘t imagine anyone else ever using. I recommend that anyone interested in rules engines look elsewhere.

Reviewed on:8/11/2005 Rating: 5
Review Summary: Pragmatic Advice from an Experienced Practitioner
It is refreshing to see a book (like mine, Enterprise Knowledge Integrity – The Data Qualtiy Approach) that not only discusses the value of formalizing business rules, but also describes how to make those rules actionable. The fundamental approach described in this book provides great detail for anyone who is interested in actually transitioning from an environment where business knowledge is deployed by programmers and managed within application code to one where business rules are incorporated as enterprise metadata to be managed as critical organizational knowledge.

I have known Malcolm for some time, as well as worked with him on projects, and not only is he clearly an expert in the field of metadata, he is an engaging presenter of information in anway that does not overwhelm his audience. I highly recommend buying and reading this book

Reviewed on:8/9/2005 Rating: 2
Review Summary: Warning: Read before buying!
As a C++ developer recently tasked to design a "rules–engine" for a real–time application, I purchased this book with the hope of discovering an alternative to a "true" rule–engine (i.e., one that utilizes rule chaining and a pattern matching algorithm).

Although this book does give a step–by–step description of how to implement a "rules–engine" using Microsoft Access and Visual Basic for Applications, there is absolutely no discussion of how a rules–engine could be implemented in any other development environment.

The relevant material in the book could easily be presented in about 200 pages or less. Rules are not really addressed until chapter 15. Most of the early chapters deal with such topics that are tangential at best. Just one chapter discussing the differences between the type of rule–engine described in the book and an expert system type of rule–engine would have made the book useful.

Reviewed on:1/28/2005 Rating: 5
Review Summary: Great book !
Excellent book, very concret application, you can buy it even only to use the access application !

Reviewed on:3/6/2004 Rating: 5
Review Summary: Practical aspects of business rules
Although this book‘s title may lead you to believe it is solely about developing a business rules engine, it is much more. First, to answer the question that developers may want to know about the book – yes, there is code and it can be downloaded from the web site that supports the book. However, in my opinion, the real reason to buy this book is to gain a deeper understanding of the practical aspects of incorporating business rules into applications. Where books such as "Principles of the Business Rule Approach" (ISBN 0201788934) cover the subject well from the conceptual and systems analyst perspectives, this is the only book to approach business rules from a tools and integration perspective.

Topics range from data modeling to working with batch processes, and every relevant consideration in between. You‘ll find that the author heavily favors the use of reference data, which is no coincidence because he wrote, in my opinion, the definitive book on that topic as well – "Managing Reference Data in Enterprise Databases" (ISBN 1558606971). More importantly, though, is how thoroughly this book covers all issues associated with developing and implementing a business rules engine, especially with respect to enterprise data architectures and associated databases.

If you have mastered the concepts of business rules and are ready to implement them this book is the place to start.

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