Blog of Joos Buijs

About personal things, process mining and the rest in life.

Posts Tagged ‘ProM

ProM 5 versus ProM 6

with 6 comments

About Precisely a week ago I read the ‘How to Get Started With Prom‘ blog post on the Fluxicon Blog (err, ‘Capacitor‘). In this blog post Anne explains how an event log can be constructed, using Nitro in this case, then inspected and finally how a process model can be mined and animated using ProM. Overall, the blog post is very nice, as are all posts at the Fluxicon Blog.

There is however one thing I noticed when I was half-way the post: they use ProM 5! At first I thought, why? I mean, ProM 6 is ProM 6 after all, it’s not 4.5, it’s not 5.3, it’s 6! Therefore, it should be better than 5. Furthermore, Fluxicon, especially Christian, had a great influence in the development of ProM 6: Christian designed the new slick user interface of ProM 6 and also developed XES, the new event log standard on which ProM 6 is based (with backward compatibility with MXML which is used in ProM 5). Furthermore, ProM 6 uses ‘packages’ to wrap plug-ins. Packages can be installed and updated independently of the framework therefore allowing plug-ins to be updated by the authors independently of the release cycle of ProM 6.

So, I wondered, why explain new users how ProM 5 works? Shouldn’t you point them to ProM 6? Let them use the newest process mining tool, the state-of-the-art, with all its improvements. I’m not saying that ProM 5 is bad, of course not, but ProM 6 is better. Or is it?

Of course, I could have emailed Anne this question and I would have received a reply but I want to make this a public discussion. Why/when would you use ProM 5 instead of ProM 6?

Well, I can give a couple of reasons but I would sure like to know yours. And, of course, especially Anne’s reasons for introducing ProM 5 to our new process miners instead of ProM 6.

So, in summary, I believe that the benefits of ProM 6 compared to ProM 5 are:

  • Better graphical interface which is nicer than the one of ProM 5. The main new feature of the GUI of ProM 6, in my opinion, is that it’s object based. A plug-in requires certain object (types) and produces certain others. This allows for dynamic ‘chaining’ of plug-ins, each plug-in taking the analysis one step further;
  • Separation between plug-in and ProM 6 framework. You can choose which plug-ins / packages to install and updates can be made more frequent and independent of the ProM 6 framework updates;
  • Support for the new XES event log format but also still supporting the well-known MXML format;
  • Separation of GUI and execution, if a plug-in crashes the framework keeps running in most cases. Furthermore, it also allows for easier ‘grid deployment’ than ProM 5;

However, at the moment, ProM 5 has more (how much more?) plug-ins to offer. Each ProM 5 plug-in needs to be updated by the author (or a student) in order to run in ProM 6. So if you plan to do sophisticated analysis you might want to keep ProM 5 installed.

To conclude, I think that new process miners should be introduced to ProM 6. The usability is better than that of ProM 5 although for both you need a learning period.
For those more advanced in process mining it is necessary to switch between ProM 5 and ProM 6, depending on the type of analysis you want to perform. Hopefully most of the ProM 5 plug-ins will find their way, some with improvements, to ProM 6.

But, that’s only my opinion, what do you think? Do you think ProM 6 can replace ProM 5 yet? Do you point a new process miner to ProM 5 or ProM 6? And did I miss any (dis)advantages???
Let me know either in a comment on this post, the post at the Fluxicon Capacitor or maybe in a dedicated discussion on LinkedIn.

Looking forward to your opinions!!!

Joos

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Written by Joos Buijs

November 22, 2010 at 14:36

Wanted: Beta testers for XESame

with 2 comments

So, finally, the day is approaching that my baby gets the “1.0” label. But, before I dare to put it out there, I would like to have it tested, and not only by me.

So, what (/who) is XESame?
XESame started as XESma during my Master’s project. The goal of XESame is to extract event logs from data sources. The input format can be database tables, text files or even XML files. The output is an eventlog in the XES or MXML format.
A good slogan for XESame would be: “Opens the cave of process mining wonders”, but that would be a bit bragging.

Err, sounds great but then what?
This event log can be used in ProM to apply process mining analysis (which is sometimes called ‘magic‘ (Dutch article), it also produces very colorful and nice pictures…). More about ProM and process mining can be found at processmining.org.

But why do you want to test it now?
In September 2010, at the BPM’10 conference in New York, the ProM 6 framework will be officially released. Included in this framework is XESame. The next few days and weeks ProM 6 will be tested (internally) for the release. Since XESame will be released for the first time and I’m the only one working on it, I would really like some thorough testing and feedback.

Okay, so, how can I help?
Well, you can do several things, depending on what you like to do and how much time you can/will spend. First of all, I would suggest that you download XESame and try to extract an event log from data you have available. Then report back to me if XESame was useful and why (not).
XESame uses JDBC to connect to the data source. Since I can not test XESame on ‘all’ data source types out there, I’m interested in how it works on different types of data sources (e.g. different databases such as MySQL, Oracle, MS SQL, etc.)
Furthermore, if you encounter any errors, please let me know so I can try to fix them.
I’m also very interested in what features are missing and how XESame can provide better guidance in defining an extraction of event log data.

But I already looked at XESMa, do you need my help?
Well, yes, for two reasons: First, what did you think of XESMa when you tried it? Second: the graphical user interface of XESame is completely different from the (rudimentary and bloated) interface of XESMa. So I always need (and will appreciate) your help.

Okay, so how do I get started?
Good question (and I’m glad that you want to get started).

First of all, you need to download XESame of course and run it. Go to the ProM 6 BPM’10 release page and download the latest version of the framework and XESame. This should be under the section ‘Download’ or otherwise ‘History’.
For Windows users there is an xesame.exe file that you can start. For Mac/Linux/… users start the MainFrame class in the org.processminning.mapper.ui package from xesame.jar.
If you didn’t try XESame or XESMa before, it might be a good idea to read my Master’s thesis (PDF, 8Mb), especially chapters 5 and 6 with all the examples. (Not in any way suggesting that chapters 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 are not interesting to read of course.) Although the thesis talks about XESMa a lot, everything should also be applicable for XESame.
And if you’re really interested, look at the XESame source code via http://prom.win.tue.nl:8000/Tracsites/browser/public/XESame/src/org/processmining/mapper or point your SVN client to svn://prom.win.tue.nl/public/XESame (you can use “anonymous/anonymous” for anonymous access, although you cannot commit of course).

Once you’re done fiddling around or when you encounter a serious error or bug or get stuck, contact me and I’ll try to help you. The best way to contact me is to go to my employee page and see if you want to come by my office, give me a call or send me an e-mail (or contact me through Office Communicator on my tue mail address).
Unfortunately, I’m only human so on occasion I might be at the restroom, having lunch or even on holiday (from August 9 until (and including) 20).

So, even if you don’t plan to click on any of the above links, I would like to thank you for reading this post. I hope to hear from you soon and until next time,

Update 28-7-2010 16:50 (CET): I forgot to mention that the ‘official home’ of XESame is http://prom.win.tue.nl/research/wiki/xesame/start (I was too exited…).

Joos

P.S. huge disclaimer follows:
Please note that the author, the department or the university can not be held responsible for any damage caused by direct or indirect usage of XESame (or XESMa). It is recommended that XESame will only be provided read access to the data source and that you run XESame on a copy of the data an not on (the only instance of) the original data source. And of course, XESame is not extensively tested (yet) so it might do strange things to you or your computer. But rest assure, me and my computer survived all months of development.

Written by Joos Buijs

July 27, 2010 at 11:30

Process Mining: A quick overview of web resources on the subject

with 3 comments

Process mining is a hot research subject considering the large number of publications (see for instance Google Scholar and the full publication list of Wil van der Aalst).

Besides official publications there are of course less ‘official’ and less scientific writings about the subject. I was curious what I would find so I started a search on the world wide web…

The number 1 result is of course www.processmining.org, home of the well-known tools ProM and ProM Import developed at the TU/e. This website also explains the basics of process mining. A better introduction to the subject for ‘newbies’ might be the Wikipedia article on Process Mining.

Personally, I would put the LinkedIn group on Process Mining third. This group contains discussions on the subject and links to interesting (blog) posts are added. Another community around process mining is formed by the ProM-user and ProM-developer mailing lists. The ProM forum is not much used but has my personal preference above the (‘old fashioned’) mailing lists.

For those already more in to process mining the ‘IEEE task force on process mining’-wiki could be of interest. Extra tip: add the wiki changes RSS feed to your RSS reader 😉

Business people excited about the possibilities of process mining should visit the following websites of companies that support process mining (in no particular order or claim of completeness):

  • Futura Process Intelligence The first company specifically aimed at process mining, based in Eindhoven. Especially the ’14 day challenge’ should appeal.
  • Fluxicon Possibly the second company specifically aimed at process mining 😉 Also based in Eindhoven (must have a reason…). This ‘new kid on the block’ is one to keep your eye on, curious to see where they are say 2 years from now.
  • Surprisingly, the next company is also based in Eindhoven. MagnaView visualizes data and now also supports several process mining visualizations.
  • Process mining as a business has crossed the waters to Norway. Businesscape provides the ‘Enterprise Visualization Suite’ incorporating several process mining techniques.
  • Process mining is also incorporated in tools such as ARIS from IDS Scheer, BPM|One from Pallas Athena and Fujitsu’s ESI (although they call it Automated Process Discovery but its the same… (they disagree! but that’s not true…))
  • And of course I forgot many other great companies… (let me know in the comments!)

Next, blog posts. There are many of them ‘out there’, some of them even talk about process mining. A (very) small selection is provided below, no selection is made on quality or actuality.

Recently, I discovered that research on the subject of process mining is also spreading to Italy and its already spread to Germany, America and Australia.

Well, I hoped I provided at least a few pointers for further reading.

Joos

Edit 28-01-’10: corrected some small typing mistakes
Edit 30-07-’10: Entered the correct link to the IEEE TFPM *oops*

Written by Joos Buijs

January 22, 2010 at 17:58

Process Mining Terms: A Small Glossary

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Recently I helped someone unfamiliar with process mining in starting analysis on a log. One of the things that I noticed is that it is hard to get to know the overall ‘structure’ and meaning of the terms used. This is further complicated by inconsistent use of terminology in conversations and documentation but also in ProM 5.2. In this post I will try to explain some of the most common terms used in process mining and what they (should) mean.

Note: this is not a ‘definite’ list, it is just how I think the terms should be interpreted and used!!! Furthermore, any suggestions and additions are welcome!!!

The overall picture: A system (e.g. a workflow management system) facilitates the processing of cases using a predefined process in which activities and their ordering is defined. The activities executed in this system are recorded in an event log which can be ‘reverse engineered’ using ProM for instance. The log contains actual executions of events on cases on a certain moment in time by a certain actor etc.
The result of this reverse engineering can be a process model describing the behavior recorded in the log but performance -, social network – and constraint analysis is also possible. We won’t go into all the possible analyses in this post.

So, an (event) log contains information about process instances (e.g. cases) and the events that are performed on/for them.

It is also important to understand that there are two levels: one is the conceptual level in which we do not talk about actual instances but generally talk about objects that can appear in a log. The other level is the instance level in which you look at specific instances of process instances, event executions, originators, etc. etc. In the general terms list I tried to indicate whether a term refers to a conceptual aspect or really refers to an (set of) instance.

General Process Mining terms:

(Used in ProM 5.2 and MXML, new terms are used in ProM 6 and the XES event log format)

  • Activity An action or task that can be performed for a process instance (conceptual level);
  • Data attribute An extra attribute recorded in the MXML file. Examples are the amount of a purchase order or the patient’s age. These attributes can for instance be used for decision analysis in ProM (conceptual level);
  • Event This can either refer to an activity or an event instance performed by a resource on a certain time for a specific process instance. The meaning therefore depends on the context in which it is used;
  • Event Class Used in the ProM Dashboard, it refers to the number of different activities encountered in the log (instance level).
  • Event Log A recording of a set of events, an MXML log is an example of an event log format (instance level);
  • Event Instance A recording of an executed event with information such as execution timestamp, event type and originator (instance level);
  • Event Type Each activity can be in one of several states. The most commonly used states are ‘start’ and ‘complete’. The meaning is very straightforward: an activity is started and a certain amount of time later it is completed. There are several other event types or states, for a complete overview see figure 4 in the ‘MXML paper’ (PDF) (might be outdated) (conceptual level);
  • Log The original log generated by the source system which records things that have happened. In order to be used within ProM this needs to be converted to the MXML format using the ProM Import Framework (instance level).
  • Process Instance (PI) The object you are following and on/for which events occur. Examples are cases, patients, machines etc. (can be both conceptual and instance level);
  • Process mining Analyzing a business process based on an event log, see http://www.processmining.org;
  • ProM An application to apply several process mining techniques to an event log, see http://www.processmining.org. The version at the moment of writing is 5.2 and version 6.0 is under development (nightly builds are available);
  • ProM Import Framework A framework for converting event logs to the MXML event log format. A set of converters for common formats is available but new converters can be programmed in Java;
  • Model Element Used in the ProM Dashboard Summary, it should be interpreted as ‘activity’.
  • MXML A meta model for event logs. An event log needs to be in this XML format to be processed by ProM. More information can be found in the ‘meta model for process mining’ paper (PDF) (conceptual level);
  • MXML log The actual MXML file with all the recordings following the MXML format (instance level);
  • Resource Any actor that can execute an activity, for example humans, the system itself or a web service (conceptual level);
  • Timestamp A time indication consisting of a date and possibly a time part (instance level);

Well, that’s the list for now. I hope I helped someone and did not add to the confusion. If you have any questions, suggestions or additions, please post a comment!!! Especially the ‘conceptual v.s. instance’ part was hard for me to explain so any improvements are welcome.

– Joos –

P.S. @my supervisor: I created this article in the weekend and scheduled it for publication on Tuesday, so don’t think I’m procrastinating 🙂

Activity An action or task that can be performed for a process instance.;

Written by Joos Buijs

November 17, 2009 at 17:00

Posted in Process Mining

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