WADE is a software platform that facilitates the development of distributed multi-agent systems where tasks to be executed by agents can be defined according to the workflow metaphor.
Furthermore WADE provides an architecture and some ready-made components that support the administrator in managing a WADE-based application in terms of configuration, startup, monitoring and fault management.
WADE is an extension of JADE. That is, a WADE-based application is also a JADE-based application and, as such, is structured as a number of containers (distributed across a set of hosts) each one holding one or more agents. The Main Container holding the AMS and DF must be activated first and other (peripheral) containers register to it at bootstrap time. On top of this WADE provides a set of ready made agents and in particular
- The WorkflowEngineAgent-s that embed a micro-workflow engine and are therefore able to execute tasks defined as workflow.
- Some Administrator agents responsible for implementing the platform management mechanisms supported by WADE.
The best point to start playing with WADE is certainly the WADE User Guide that provides a complete explanation of the features and the architecure of the platform. The Book-Trading example available for download in the download area of the WADE web site (wadeExamples.zip) gives you an idea of how a WADE-based application can look like. A practical tutorial is still under preparation.
A workflow is a formal definition of a process in terms of activities to be executed, relations between them, criteria that specify the activation and termination and additional information such as the participants, the software tools to be invoked, required inputs and expected outputs and internal data manipulated during the execution. The key aspect of the workflow metaphor is the fact that the execution steps as well as their sequencing are made explicit. This makes it possible to give a graphical representation of a process defined as a workflow.
WOLF is the suggested development environment for WADE-based application. Actually WOLF is a plug-in of Eclipse and as a consequence WADE developers can exploit the full power of the Eclipse IDE plus some WADE specific features supported by WOLF. The main value that WOLF provides is of course the support for the graphical definition of workflows. Besides that WOLF also helps developers in:
• setting up an Eclipse project for developing a WADE-based application in terms of classpath and configuration files specification;
• managing a WADE-based application that can run remotely or locally (for debugging purposes) and launching the execution of workflows on WorkflowEngine agents belonging to that application.