Along with web services, business objects provide the means of interacting with external systems from your process flow chart in Process Studio.

Business objects provide a series of actions that can be called from a process. For example a business object might be designed to interact with a mainframe application containing customer details. The high level process might require a customer's address to be updated. A useful business object would contain the action "Set Customer Address" and take a parameter "Customer ID" to identify to the underlying system which customer's address is to be updated. The business object would then "speak the language" of the target mainframe system to achieve its task.

Providing functionality in a business object in this manner allows for useful functionality to be re-used, be it several times in the same process or be it several times across multiple processes. A single business object may be used by several processes at once.

Since the business object merely describes a high-level description of a series of tasks (such as updating customer addresses), the implementation is separated from the process. This means that should the target system be replaced (ie the mainframe in the example above) with a new system, migrating to the new system would merely mean rewriting the implementation of the business object. This means that no changes would be necessary to the high level business process.

To make the most of these advantages, you should try to separate your business logic from your implementation: use business objects for interacting with external systems and use processes for deciding data flow, processing queues etc.

Types of business object

There are three main methods of interacting with external systems:

External business object

External business objects are a legacy mechanism representing a wrapper for locally deployed COM objects. Superseded by visual business objects, external business objects must be explicitly registered on each device where they will be used. Typically, this will be each runtime resource and interactive client used for development. Registration is carried out within System Manager.

To add an external business object in System Manager, select Objects > External from the navigation tree. In the Add a new object field, input the name of the object and click Go.

External business objects should not be considered for new developments. It is recommended that you use visual business objects.

Visual business objects

A visual business object is one which is designed from within object studio. In this case Blue Prism takes care of mapping the interfaces and no configuration is necessary. Such business objects appear automatically in System Manager, and in Action Stage Properties forms.

Web services

You may have access to existing web services which provide external functionality in a convenient format already, making it tiresome to write a wrapper for them or to reimplement them. To solve this problem, Blue Prism allows you to register a web service in System Manager and it will provide a wrapper for them automatically, allowing you to call them in the same way as a business object. Indeed, a user who does not have permission to access System Manager can not know the difference between a business object and a web service.

Any business object which appears in system manager can be called from within a business process.