Many overall work processes in domains such as life sciences or logistics show a tendency a) to consist off non-trivial and/or long-running atomic steps and b) to be composed in a complex sequence. Even worse, both the atomic steps and the compositions thereof to processes/workflows oftentimes move along the specifity frontier meaning they constantly evolve and their specification may change even at run-time.
Users in such domains should be guided throughout the whole life cycle of their work processes. The system should assist them during the stages of service discovery, service composition, service execution, service adaption and in the last stage of the result's publication. Tradtional process support systems compose their workflows from service elements in a static approach, which does not sufficiently address the need for dynamism. Ad-hoc based solutions such as e-mail or Groupware systems on the other hand do not have facilities to exploit formal representations of the problem.
NExT - The System
We strongly believe that those issues can only be addressed properly by a system that focuses on a tight interaction with its users. They should establish a continuous feedback loop resulting in a mixed-initiative kind approach. More precisely, NExT is based on three parts:
- A Knowledge Base contains all the domain knowledge such as atomic processes, templates for reusable process compositions and data items used as inputs and outputs. We use OWL-S to describe these entities.
- A generic execution engine and guidance component works upon these description and provides facilities to assist users especially during discovery, composition and execution of the workflows. This part is based on the OWL-S API from the Mindswap Lab at the University of Maryland, which was heavily extended during the NExT project.
- An intuitive user interface based on the Eclipse Rich Client Platform Framework.
- A. Bernstein, M. Dänzer. The NExT Process Workbench: Towards the Support of Dynamic Semantic Web Processes, Proceedings of the Workshop for Semantics for Web Services at the 4th IEEE European Conference on Web Services, Switzerland, Zurich, December 4-6, 2006 [pdf]
- A. Bernstein, M. Dänzer, The NExT System: Towards True Dynamic Adaptions of Semantic Web Service Compositions (System Description), To appear in Proceedings of the 4th European Semantic Web Conference (ESWC '07), Austria, Innsbruck, June 3-7, 2007, Springer, [pdf]
Dedicated components and approaches of the NExT system were elaborated in the following diploma theses written at the University of Zurich.
- Michael Dänzer: NExT - The NMR EXperiment Toolbox
- Lukas Kern: A Distributable Data Managment Layer for Semantic Web Applications
- Markus Krähenbühl, Georg Kunz, Franco Sebregondi: Ontology Based Knowledge Modeling (in conjunction with the University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil)
- Peter Birchmeier: Semi-Automated Semantic Web Service Composition Planner Supporting Alternative Plans Synthesis and Imprecise Planning
- Simon Lützelschwab: Case Based Reasoner for OWL-S Web Services
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any kinds of questions or comments about the NExT project. For questions and comments pelase contact: