UBICC, the Ubiquitous Computing and Communication Journal [ISSN 1992-8424], is an international scientific and educational organization dedicated to advancing the arts, sciences, and applications of information technology. With a world-wide membership, UBICC is a leading resource for computing professionals and students working in the various fields of Information Technology, and for interpreting the impact of information technology on society.
Special Issue on ICIT 2009 Conference - Applied Computing AN INTERACTIVE COMPOSITION OF WORKFLOW APPLICATIONS BASED ON UML ACTIVITY DIAGRAM Yousra Bendaly Hlaoui, Leila Jemni Ben Ayed Research Unit of Technologies of Information and Communication Tunis, Tunisia Yousra.email@example.com Leila.firstname.lastname@example.org ABSTRACT In today's distributed applications, semi automatic and semantic composition of workflows from Grid services is becoming an important challenge. We focus in this paper on how to model and compose interactively workflow applications from Grid services without considering lower level description of the Grid environment. To reach this objective, we propose a Model-Driven Approach for developing such applications based on semantic and syntactic descriptions of services available on the Grid and abstract description provided by UML activity diagram language as well. As there are particular needs for modeling composed workflows interactively from Grid services, we propose to extend the UML activity diagram notation. These extensions deal with additional information allowing an interactive and semi automatic composition of workflows. In addition this specific domain language contains appropriate data to describe matched Grid services that are useful for the execution of the obtained workflows. Keywords: Grid services, Interactive, semantic, composition, Workflow application, UML activity diagrams. 1 INTRODUCTION application and on the other reduces the complexity of the composed applications. There are several Today’s distributed applications  are architectural approaches for distributed computing developed by integrating web or Grid services [13, applications  which make easy the development 14] in a workflow. Due to the very large number of process. However, these approaches need rigorous available services and the existence of different development methods to promote the reuse of possibilities for constructing workflow from components in future Grid development application matching services, the problem of building such . It has been proven from past experience that applications is usually a non trivial task for a using structured engineering methods makes easy the developer. This problem requires finding and development process of any computing system and orchestrating appropriate Grid services in a reduces the complexity when building large Grid workflow. Therefore, we propose an approach that application . allows semi automatic and interactive composition of To reduce this complexity and allow the reuse of workflow applications from Grid services. To Grid service applications, we adopt a model-driven describe and model workflow applications we use approach . Thus we introduce in this paper a new UML  activity diagrams. Recently, several approach to build, interactively, workflow solutions were proposed to compose applications applications by following OMG(s) principals of the from Grid services such as works presented in [8, 17, MDA in the development process [2, 3, 4]. 18]. However, the proposed solutions need In this approach [2, 3, 4], our focus is to interaction with user and guidelines or rules in the compose and model workflows from existing Grid design of the composed applications. Consequently, services that represent the main aspect in the the resulting source code is neither re-usable nor it development of Grid services applications. The promotes dynamic adaptation facilities as it should. workflow modeling identifies the control and data However, for applications composed of Grid services, flows from one depicted Grid service's operation to we need an abstract view not only of the offered the next to build and compose the whole application. services but also of the resulting application . To model and express the composed workflow of This abstraction allows the reuse of the elaborated Grid services, we use as abstract language the UbiCC Journal – Volume 4 No. 3 599 Special Issue on ICIT 2009 Conference - Applied Computing activity diagrams of UML . The provided model the number of available services is in increase with forms the Platform Independent Model (PIM) of the the existence of several forms and manners to proposed MDA approach. This model is more compose such services. understandable for the user than an XML  based Based on domain ontology description, we lead workflow description languages like BPEL4WS  the user through to the composition process. Also, which represent the Platform Specific Model (PSM). we provide for this user a graphical interface based This paper is organized as follows. Section 2 on a domain specific UML language for automatic presents the related work. Section 3 introduces the grid service composition. This UML profile  is different components of the composition system; based on stereotypes, tagged values and workflow section 4 specifies our proposed UML profile, patterns  that we propose to ensure the automatic composition patterns and different steps of the composition. In the field of Grid services interactive composition process. Finally, section 5 composition the most related work is the work concludes the paper and proposes areas for further presented by Gubala et al in [8, 17, 18]. In this work, research. the authors have developed a tool for semi automatic and assisted composition of scientific Grid 2 RELATED WORK application workflows. The tool uses domain specific knowledge and employs several levels of workflow Many works were carried out in the field of abstractness in order to provide a comprehensive Grid and Web services composition, such as works representation of the workflow for the user and to presented in [8, 17, 18, 19, 20, 28, 29, 30]. In  lead him in the process of possible solution authors were interested in the semi automatic construction, dynamic refinement and execution. The composition of web services and proposed a originality of our contribution is that firstly we save validation approach based on the semantic the effort of the user from the dynamic refinement descriptions of services and on a logic based and execution as we propose a Model Driven language to describe and validate the resulting Approach which separates the specific model from composite Web services. However, the resulting the independent model. composed web service is not clear for user who is Secondly, we use UML activity diagrams to not familiar with logic based languages. In our deliver the functionality in a more natural way for contribution, we propose a solution not only to the human user. The use of UML activity diagrams compose workflows from available Grid services, in the description of workflow application is argued but also to provide graphical and comprehensive in several works such as works presented in [1, 10, models of the resulting workflows. In the same 12, 27]. Thus, the advantage of UML activity framework, authors in  proposed a composition diagrams is that they provide an effective visual approach of Web services based on Symbolic notation and facilitate the analysis of workflows Transition Systems (STS). They developed a sound composition. and complete logical approach for identifying the In our approach, we propose an UML profile for existence of available composition. They have composing systematically a workflow application emphasized upon the abstract representation of the from Grid services . composition request (the goal of the composition) and the representation of the resulting composite 3 THE INTERACTIVE WORKFLOW Web service. For the representation, authors have COMPOSITION SYSTEM used UML state machine diagrams  which are suitable only to describe a sequence of component The system allows an interactive and semantic services without addressing the other forms of composition of workflows from Grid services. As matching services in a workflow such as parallel shown in figure 1, the system is composed of three branches or and-branches. On the other hand, UML components: a Grid Services workflows composer, activity diagrams that we use in our modelling an ontological Grid Services registry and a approach support all kind of workflow composition workflows execution system also we call it activity patterns  such as parallelism, split and fork. The machine. authors in [19, 20, 30] have proposed a Model Driven Approach for composing manually Web 3.1 The Grid services workflow composer services. They were based on UML activity diagrams This system is composed of three components: to describe the composite Web service and on UML the composition tool, the transformation tool and the class diagrams to describe each available Web verification tool. Service. The user depicts the suitable Web service and matches it in the workflow representing the 3.1.1 The composition tool composite Web service using UML activity It provides a graphical interface in the form of diagrams. This approach would have been better if UML activity diagrams editor allowing to the user an the composition were automatically elaborated, since interactive, systematic and semantic workflow UbiCC Journal – Volume 4 No. 3 600 Special Issue on ICIT 2009 Conference - Applied Computing Figure 1: Different components of the workflow composition system Composition . This composition is based on the translates the activity diagram into a Hyper-Graph composition process which will be detailed in (HG). This HG will be translated as well by the section 4.3. In the Grid registry, services are transformation tool into a NuSMV format file described in an ontological form with statements according to a relative semantic. The details of regarding the service operation's inputs, outputs, these semantics may not be relevant to the topic for pre-conditions and effects (the IOPE set) . which the paper is submitted. However these details Through these notions, the composition system is could be made available. able to match different grid service’s operations into a workflow following a reverse traversal 3.1.3 The verification tool approach. Thus, and by associating the required Checking errors in design models like UML data with the produced output, the composer activity diagrams is essential since correcting an constructs a data flow between Grid service’s error while the system is alive and running is operations using our workflow composition usually very costly . Consequently, workflow patterns and UML profile. The composer may activity diagram models should be spotted and also use a specific notion of effect that may bind corrected as early as possible . two operations together with non-data dependency. Several techniques are used in the field of If the Grid registry fails to find the right operation, behavioural design verification such as theorem the composition process stops. Otherwise, the proving and model checking . The latter is the composition process will stop when all workflow most useful because it is fully automatic and gives dependencies are resolved. feedback in case of detected errors. It verifies The request is sent to the Ontological Grid whether some given finite state machine satisfies Registry in the form of SPARQL query . This some given property specified in temporal logic . language provides a higher-level access to the For activity diagrams, symbolic model checking ontology transcribed knowledge for the automatic has proven to be an efficient verification technique discovery and semantic matching of services. . Thus, our verification tool is based on Therefore, once the workflow model is built, it NuSMV symbolic model checker  that supports should be validated and verified to ensure its strong fairness property which is necessary to be reliability before being executed and reused as sub- verified in a workflow model to obtain realistic workflow. results. With the model checker, arbitrary propositional requirements can be checked against 3.1.2 The transformation tool the input model. If a requirement fails to hold, an To support the verification and the execution of error trace is returned by the model checker. The workflow models described in UML activity transformation tool translates systematically the diagrams (UML-AD), the transformation tool error trace into an activity diagram trace by high- UbiCC Journal – Volume 4 No. 3 601 Special Issue on ICIT 2009 Conference - Applied Computing lighting a corresponding path in the given activity diagram. 3.3 The workflow execution system The reliable workflow model is sent to the 3.2 The Grid registry workflow execution system  which produces During the workflow composition process, the implementation code for handling control flow and Grid registry provides the composer system with data flow. The activity diagram describing the the description of services available at the moment workflow model is translated into a specific XML and provides reasoning capabilities to enable proper file which will be the input of the execution system. matchmaking of services inputs and outputs. A workflow execution system executes different The Grid registry  is an ontological workflow activities specified in the workflow XML distributed repository of Grid services and sub- document in the correct order and with their workflows. This registry is responsible for storing required inputs and outputs data. The execution of and managing documents which contains an activity corresponds to the invocation of a Grid descriptions of syntax and semantics of services service’s operation. The workflow execution and their operations expressed in an RDF file . system monitors these activities using the tagged The semantic Web is making available technologies values information expressed in the activities but which support automate knowledge sharing. In does not perform them. An activity of the activity particular there are several existing initiatives such diagram modelling the workflow represents a state as OWL-S  which proves that ontologies have a of the workflow execution system in which the key role in the automating service discovery and system waits for an invoked grid service operation composition. That knowledge is based on semantic to complete its work. Hence, the defined semantics descriptions of service classes published by the of activity diagrams for the verification describe the service developers and provided in the Grid behaviour of the execution system. When the environment . Our Grid registry is based on an system enters a state relative to an invocation grid ontological description of services and workflows. service node or activity ai, it invokes a piece of The service ontology  provides concepts behaviour that is executed by the service or system and properties that allow description and environment. While the latter is in ai (activity ai is matchmaking of available services. A part of this active), it waits for the termination event of the ontology is common to all services and it is based invoked piece of behaviour. When termination on a standard semantic web service description event occurs, the system reacts by executing the ontology OWL-S  which makes interoperability outgoing edge E: it leaves the E's sources and enters with existing services. A part from the common the E's targets and the execution process continues ontology, there is a domain specific part of the for the other activity nodes until the final node is ontology. The domain service ontology  allows reached. users to extend the common ontology schema in order to provide a better specification of services as 4 UML BASED INTERACTIVE well as their inputs and outputs. For these we define COMPOSITION OF WORKFLOWS a data ontology  which provides concepts and FROM GRID SERVICES properties for describing services input and outputs. Ontology alignment  is a process for finding In order to match and compose different Grid semantic relationships among the entities of service’s operations, we need to analyze constructs ontologies. Its main activity is to find similar of workflow models at higher abstraction level. concept in ontologies being aligned, in order to map Since UML  is the core of the MDA , we them. The measures for similarity computation can use its activity diagram language to model be divided into two general groups; namely lexical composed workflows. The composition system measures and structural measures. Lexical measures provides to the user a graphical interface to are based on surface similarity such as title or label compose its request using a UML profile specific of entities. In contrary, structural measures try to for the domain of composing systematically recognize similarities by considering structures of ontology graphs. The most advanced similarity 4.1 UML Profile for composing workflows algorithms use combination of multiple similarity In this section, we present our UML profile measures to obtain more information about which is based on Domain Specific Language concepts similarity. In our Grid registry, we adopt (DSL) for customizing UML activity diagrams for an approach using a combination of lexical and the systematic composition of workflows from Grid structural similarity . services . We use similarity measures for mapping domain In our DSL (See Figure 2), an activity of an ontology as initial selection and then the selection UML activity diagram represents a Grid service's will be refined with using structural similarity operation, while object flows represent the types of method . results which flow from one activity to another. UbiCC Journal – Volume 4 No. 3 602 Special Issue on ICIT 2009 Conference - Applied Computing Effects binding two operations are presented with essential in the systematic building of workflow control flows . applications from Grid services. The use of these The name of an activity in the diagram patterns depends on the number of the depicted represents the name of the Grid service's operation. Grid Service's operations and their inputs and This name must be specified as a Grid service could outputs . These operations are results of the have more than one operation often called interface semantic research elaborated by the ontological which are specified in its relative WSDL file . Grid services registry. This research is invoked by a There are two different types of activities: yet- request given by the composition system in order to unresolved activities and established activities of complete an unresolved activity in the workflow. the composed workflow. The former represent the The Grid service registry provides zero, one or need for a Grid Service's operation to be inserted in more operations producing the intended output. order to complete the workflow. However, the latter Operations are depicted to be inserted in the represent abstract operations that are already workflow interactively with the user. included into the workflow. As there are two different activity types in a 4.2.1 Sequence Pattern Grid service workflow model, an activity needs to When the Grid registry provides one Grid be typed and specified. To fulfil this, we propose to service's operation that is able to produce the use the DSL modelling element invoke to required result or the user selects one operation stereotype an established activity which is used to from the provided operation set; the composition invoke an external Grid service's operation and yet- system uses the sequence pattern to insert the unresolved to stereotype activities which are not yet operation in the workflow. In this case and as is resolved. Object nodes of an established activity are illustrated by the figure 3, a single abstract data stereotyped. Unknown input and output for a operation or activity (e.g. GridService1Operation1) yet-unresolved activity are unknown stereotyped. will be inserted in the workflow model described by In our UML profile, an object node could be the UML-AD language. This operation may also relatedto a final node as composed workflow of require some data for itself (e.g. Grid application should always deliver a result. GridService1Operation1Input) and thus it may introduce a new unresolved dependency (e.g. the 4.2 UML-AD composition patterns yet-unresolved stereotyped activity). So, we use a We identify, in this section, how UML activity follow-up method to build a simple pipeline-type diagrams support some of basic Grid service sequential workflow: a sequence pattern. composition patterns . These patterns are Figure 2: Meta-model of Grid service workflow composition specific UML activity diagram language UbiCC Journal – Volume 4 No. 3 603 Special Issue on ICIT 2009 Conference - Applied Computing A Sequence pattern is composed with sequential to object node representing the required input which activities which are related with control flow (non both of them flow to a merge construct. data operations dependency) or object flow (data Semantically, several services instances are operation dependency). invoked in parallel threads and the merge will only wait for the first flow to finish. We distinguish, in Figure 5, two different Grid service's operations, GridService1Operation1 and GridService2Operation1 providing the same output data DataOutput. Figure 3: The sequence pattern 4.2.2 And-branches pattern The and-branches pattern is introduced when the Figure 5: Alternative branches pattern introduced operation represented by an abstract UML activity has more than one input. This pattern 4.2.4 Alternative services pattern is based on the Synchronization pattern presented in When composing workflows from Grid . services, a specific matching based on semantic This pattern starts with object nodes, comparison could provide two or more different Grid representing alternative operation inputs, which flow services performing each of them the required to a join node. The latter is linked to the abstract grid operation. In such case and when the user do not service's operation. This operation introduces some choose one of the depicted Grid service’s operations, unresolved dependencies in the workflow. the composition system uses the alternative services Semantically, several services instances are pattern to involve the operations in the workflow invoked in parallel threads and the join will wait for model. all flows to finish. As illustrated in Figure 4, the In this pattern, the Grid service’s operation to operation of the Grid service insert is modelled by a composed super-activity with GridService1Operation1 needs two inputs data a specified input data object and specified output GridService1Operation1Input1 and data object (Figure 6). The super-activity is GridService1Operation1Input2. The relative pattern stereotyped as AlternativeServiceInstance to indicate produces two parallel threads in the workflow. that its task may be accomplished by a set of alternative service's instances. These alternative service instances are described with sub-activities. The sub-activities shall be grid service instances and thus stereotyped as invoke. It was up to decision mechanism of the workflow execution engine to choose which service instance in such given workflow node is to be invoked and executed. In Figure 6, the data DataOutput is provided from GridServiceOperation service operation which could be GridService1Operation1 provider or GridService2Operation2 provider. Figure 4: And-branches pattern 4.2.3 Alternative branches pattern When the Grid registry provides more than one operation able to produce the required result, and the user do not select one of them, the composition requires a specific pattern: the alternative branches pattern. This pattern combines the Exclusive Choice and Simple Merge patterns presented in . In this pattern, each alternative service's operation is linked Figure 6: Alternative services pattern UbiCC Journal – Volume 4 No. 3 604 Special Issue on ICIT 2009 Conference - Applied Computing 4.3 The composition process Figure 7 illustrates the scenario of the Step 4: If the required operation is found then the composition process of workflows from available system displays its characteristics to the user to Grid services. This composition is based on the confirm the choice. The register may provide more domain specific UML activity diagram language than one operation. In such case the user could presented in section 4.1. In the following, we choose the operation to insert in the workflow model comment the different process steps of the scenario from the given list. If it does not specify its presented in the figure 7. operation, then the system inserts all the given operations using one of the composition patterns Step 1: The user builds its composition request by presented in section 4.2. Relatively to the number of specifying what kind of outcome or result that it depicted operations and their inputs and outputs, the expects from the workflow application execution. composer chooses the right composition pattern. Step 2: The composition system analyses the desired Step 5: For each input of inserted operation, the output and sends a SPARQL query to request the system defines one unresolved dependency as a ontologies of the Grid registry describing the workflow activity which is not yet established. This available Grid services. The composer requests the activity depends on some Grid service’s operation. Grid registry for a Grid service’s operation having For each unresolved dependency the composer asks the specified result as output. the user if it wants to continue the composition process or not. If the response is positive the Step 3: If the required operation is not found and all composer re-executes the process from the step 2 to unknown results are resolved then the composition resolve the current unresolved dependency. process stops. Figure 7: Scenario of the interactive composition of Grid service workflows based on UML activity diagrams UbiCC Journal – Volume 4 No. 3 605 Special Issue on ICIT 2009 Conference - Applied Computing 5 Illustration of the interactive workflow the composer system is able to match different composition operations into a workflow following a reverse traversal approach. Thus, and by associating the In the following, we illustrate the composition required data with the produced output, the composer process through the example of the domain of the constructs a data flow between operation using city traffic pollution analysis. This application, as workflow patterns and our UML profile . The presented in , targets the computation of traffic composer may also use a specific notion of effect air pollutant emission in an urban area. that may bind two operations together with non-data Step 1: Figure 8 shows an example of initial dependency. In , five basic control patterns were workflow that represents a composition request for defined to be supported by all workflow languages the results of the pollutant emission due to the city and workflow products. These patterns are Sequence traffic. The desired result, PollutionEmission, is pattern, Parallel split pattern, Synchronization described by the rectangle representing the object pattern, Exclusive Choice and Simple Merge node in the relative activity diagram. patterns. Figure 10 represents the example of city traffic analysis Workflow after the full composition activity. It involves several Grid service operations, sequence branches, parallel split branches, simple merge branches and a loop . The loop is involved in the workflow diagram as the application iterates in order to analyze the possible traffic. The Figure shows also how UML activity diagrams support the five basic patterns in the composition specific domain of Grid services workflows . In the Figure 8: Initial workflow as a composition request example, some of object node or input data, such as VehiculeType and StartZonzId, are given by the user Step 2: Figure 9 represents the workflow of the of the application; they do not have an operation computation of traffic air pollution analysis after one provider. This illustrates the interaction between our step of composition. The service’s operation, composition system and the user. delivering the PollutionEmission result, is AirPollutionEmissionCalculator. This operation is the result of the composer query asked to the ontological Grid registry. The operation requires two inputs TrafficFlowFile and PathsLenght-File, thus it infers two unresolved dependencies in the activity diagram modelling the composed workflow. Figure 9: An example of workflow after one step of composition Step 3: For every dependency that needs to be resolved .i.e. a yet-unresolved activity, the composer contacts the ontological registry in order to find suitable service’s operations that may produce the required result. The services are described in an ontological form with statements regarding the service operation’s inputs, outputs, preconditions and Figure 10: The workflow application after the full effects (the IOPE set) . Through these notions, composition UbiCC Journal – Volume 4 No. 3 606 Special Issue on ICIT 2009 Conference - Applied Computing 6 CONCLUSION Interactive Composition of UML-AD for the Modelling of Workflow Applications, In. Proc. In this paper, we have presented an approach for Of the 4th International Conference on composing interactively workflows from Grid Information Technology, ICIT'2009, Amman, services [2, 3, 4, 6]. This composition is based on an Jordan (2009). UML profile for customizing UML activity diagrams to compose and model workflows  and on  Y. Bendaly Hlaoui, L. Jemni Ben Ayed: composition patterns  as well. The interactive Ontological Description of Grid Services composition process was illustrated through the Supporting Automatic Workflow Composition, example of city traffic pollution analysis domain  In. Proc. Of the International Conference on We have developed and implemented most of the Web and Information Technologies, presented components of the composition system. ICWIT'2009, Kerkennah, Tunisia, ACM Actually, we are working on the implementation SIGAPP.fr, IHE éditions, pp. 233-243 (2009). of the workflow execution system that invokes and executes the depicted Grid service instances and  M. Bubak, R. Guballa, M. Kapalka, M. manages the control and data flows in a run time Malawski, K. 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