Friday, November 5, 2010

Sharing models in BizAgi Studio Xpress

We have started to evaluate BizAgi Studio Xpress for a prototype we are building. The tool is easy to use for business analysts: they can download it themselves and just press ‘Next’ to install it on their machine. Really.

Next you start by modeling your process, define the data model and design the screens for human interaction. I will talk about the pros and cons of this approach in the next post. Today I want to talk about sharing the projects you create with Studio Xpress with other people.

BizAgi Studio Xpress stores the meta data (the process, the data and the screens) in a SQL Server database. If you get the enterprise edition you have more choices: you can use an Oracle database and application server platforms. Because I am working remotely on the prototype with our business partner Creetion, we needed to share the project we defined. This means we have to export the database and import it again at ‘the other side’.

The BizAgi website explains how to do this: you need to download SQL Server Management Studio. So far so good: I downloaded the SQL Server Management Studio and tried to install it. I have Windows7 installed on my laptop, and have (of course) administrator rights. However, when I run the msi, I get error-code 29506: “The installer has found an unexpected error while installing this package.” Apparently, you need system rights to install the application. The solution is to run the msi as an administrator. Bizagi has written in more detail how to accomplish this here.

Luckily a lot of people ran into this problem :-( , so there is plenty of information about this topic . Once I installed it, I tried to run the SQL Server Management Studio to create a backup of my project. Again, I got an error because I need to run the application as an administrator. This drives me nuts in Windows7: I have defined myself as an administrator but still I need to run a lot of software ‘as an administrator’! The platform is nice to edit Office documents and to surf the net. But when you trying to use version control systems, databases or any other advanced tool, the OS gets in the way.

Creating the backup is not hard. Yo do have to make sure you put ‘.bak’ as an extension in the filename, the SQL Server Management Studio does not do this for you. When you restore the database, it won’t show up in the list if you didn’t add this extension.

I am not sure where to put the blame: with Microsoft for the lousy user permission and security scheme in Windows7 or with Microsoft for the lousy integration of SQL Server Management Studio with the Windows7 user permission and security scheme….. wait: I can blame Microsoft either way :-)

But, we can now work remotely (but not at the same time) on the same database: everytime one of us updates the project, we create a backup and store this in our shared Dropbox folder.

A nice addition to BizAgi Studio Xpress would be an option to create the backup and restore directly from the Studio menu. I don’t mind installing database management software. But my colleagues, who are more business oriented, don’t appreciate this at all.