Many of the BPM platforms require some third party applications to leverage the full capability of the platform. These applications might include flowchart tools, code editors, debuggers, spreadsheet and document editors, etc… . In general, development teams can significantly improve their productivity and reduce the number of release cycles by leveraging these tools to gain a higher degree of certainty as they address issues early in the development lifecycle. Pegasystems PRPC platform is fairly self contained providing fairly strong support natively for developers on the platform, but PRPC does have several required add-ons and a number of others that are highly recommended.
Required Software – Developer Desktop
MS Visio 2003 or 2007 – PRPC versions prior to 6.1 require MS Visio to edit the flows, while 6.1 allows for some editing of simple flows in a browser based capability native to PRPC and 6.2 provides very good browser based support to create and edit flows without a third party application. Ideally, all users responsible for design and edit of workflows will install the same version of MS Visio in versions requiring Visio to ensure compatibility across the user base. Visio must be configured to save in a consistent format to allow users with older Visio versions to continue to have abilities to edit the flows.
Flash Player – Flash Player is required for relationship map / association display in the developer desktop. This is critical in enabling a understanding of the dependency network across rules defined in the solution.
Microsoft Office – while inline editing of decision tables is possible, ease of use is only acceptable using the edit in Excel capabilities integrated into PRPC. Correspondence rules also tend to require MS Word to edit the content of the correspondence effectively. It is possible to construct an application without correspondence or decision tables so it is arguable whether or not MS Office is truly required.
Recommended Software – Browser Side
Fiddler – a packet sniffer is highly recommended to understand / monitor the content and volume of independent client initiated AJAX requests to the server in relation to performance tuning and elimination of redundant calls.
IE Developer Toolbar – MS / IE Script debugger, page inspector – view source is inadequate and does not show the HTML that is currently rendered after AJAX calls are invoked. This also provides some MS / IE CSS style inspection capabilities to enable a better understanding and management of the CSS content for each app – enabling a reduction in manual coding in sections, harnesses and other UI rules to customize look and feel.
Live Meeting or GoToMeeting Assist – if you need a supported conferencing environment that allows collaboration with vendor (Pega) support to address service requests / defects. Pegasystems support is generally more effective if you can establish an interactive session and show them how your application is failing as rules based systems have an additional dimension of complexity in troubleshooting issues.
DB Visualizer – a relational database management and query tool can assist in query construction, perform offline queries, and display tables and relationships. Security configuration on the desktop should ensure database connections can be configured by the developer and do not require admin access accordingly. It should be noted that the built-in performance analyzer tool in PRPC provides a very good initial pass for performance tuning against the database queries.
Recommended Software – Server Side
TCPMon – this tool allows for more interactive web service debugging by the developer and should be available on the server to eliminate any requirement to open the network routers or switches up for promiscuous scanning by every developer desktop.