Logic Programming Associates

- Version VisiRule 1.5 - Graphical Tool Software

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VisiRule is a graphical tool for developing and delivering business rules systems and components simply by drawing the decision logic.

Rules and Processes
VisiRule can help you build rules-based systems to model and automate decision-making processes. The business logic is identified and represented as a sequence of familiar graphical icons and links. The underlying logic-based inference engines help ensure a high degree of compliance and accuracy. This makes VisiRule ideal for building regulatory compliance systems, financial decision-making systems, and validation systems.

Shareable Know-How
The expertise and 'know-how' captured in a VisiRule chart is immediately shareable with colleagues and collaborators. VisiRule charts can be exported in industry standard formats, there is no need for internal or external reviewers to buy or install any additional software. All the relevant logic and business rules underpinning business decisions is immediately visible within a chart in a simple and coherent manner. This helps people work collaboratively and improves group productivity without increasing costs.

Productivity Improvements due to Graphical Programming
By helping automate and deskill the design and delivery of complex decision support systems, VisiRule saves time and money. Not only can VisiRule be used by people with minimal programming skills, it also transforms the experience of building decision support and business rules systems for practiced software builders. Once you are familiar with VisiRule, building an application is like creating a graphical machine. VisiRule enhances productivity by considerably reducing the production time while increasing the final quality of the decision systems. Because, VisiRule is implemented in a logic-based environment, whereby each graphical object maps onto an asserted logical fact, VisiRule charts can be vetted in an intelligent manner. This results in less bugs and gives a higher degree of confidence in the accuracy of the final outputs.

Intelligent Flowcharting
VisiRule is an intelligent flowcharting tool in two senses. Firstly, it is used to create knowledge-based systems and secondly, it intelligently guides the construction process by constraining what can and cannot done based on the semantic content of the emerging program. This reduces the potential for constructing invalid or meaningless links, improves productivity and helps detect errors as early as possible within the design process.

Automatic Generation of Menus
VisiRule provides the automatic construction of menu dialogs for questions. These are populated by items inferred from expression boxes throughout the flowchart tree which have a validated path to the question. This minimises the potential of simple but hard-to-detect errors caused by simple typographical errors.

Modularity
VisiRule supports multiple, linked charts. This means that complex problems can be decomposed into smaller discrete problems where they are more easily tackled. It also means that frequently re-occuring scenarios can be re-used in alternative situations, and allows for the development of house or company rules.

Immediate Testing and Run-time Delivery
VisiRule charts can be immediately tested and executed within the development environment The generated code can be inspected and exported as Flex or Prolog. This makes for a very quick turn around in terms of verifying that the specified logic is correct. Final delivery within the Windows environment can make use of the built-in set of GUI routines supplied by the underlying compiler systems. Alternatively, charts can be embedded within Java, VB, Delphi, C/C++, .NET, C# using the LPA Intelligence Server toolkit. And finally, VisiRule charts can be published on the Web using WebFlex, with additional presentation information for questions and pages being defined using HTML or in the Flex KSL.

Integration with WIN-PROLOG and its Toolkits
WIN-PROLOG is the central product in a series that consists of programming tools that works cross-platform on Windows XP, 2000, NT, ME and 98; the series also includes flex, Flint, the CBR toolkit, the Data Mining toolkit and the ProData Database Interface toolkit. VisiRule can use the routines and algorithm within these various toolkits as required.

VisiRule is a graphical tool for designing, developing and delivering business rule and decision support applications, simply by drawing a flowchart that represents the decision logic.

Simple Representation
As a result, potentially complex business logic can be elegantly and clearly represented in a diagram comprising of interconnected boxes. These diagrams are easy to construct and quick to test. By laying out complex logic in a simple and coherent way, expertise can be shared and communicated with colleagues in a non-technical and platform independant manner. VisiRule charts are simply self-contained diagrams; they can be exported to and displayed within other applications such as Word, Acrobat etc.

Charts can vary from simple Decision Tree where every questions has a finite set of answers which determine where you go next to more complicated situations where you have to make decision on incomplete or partial information or where your knowledge is not sufficient to cover all combinations of answers.

Key features of VisiRule include:

  • Intelligent Drawing and Design Tool: helps you draw meaningful charts and links; whereever possible errors are prevented or detected at edit time; syntax for expressions is analysed on-the-fly; connecting incompatible boxes is prevented
  • Automatic Layout Support: rich set of editing features for automatic alingning and spacing of diagrams
  • Configurable Viewing Options: in addition to zooming in and out of charts, VisiRule lets you supress information (like question prompts or explanantions) when required to help produce compact charts which fit on 2 sides of A4 or US Letter
  • Shareable Charts: VisiRule charts can be saved as normal Windows meta-files and shared and discussed with external colleagues and collaborators in an industry format that does not require any special purpose software, just standard applications such as Word, Acrobat
  • In-Situ Execution and Code Generation: generates Flex KSL code on-the-fly for inspection and immediate execution. Once the chart has been filly tested, the code can be exported and integrated within the LPA IDE with other code or toolkits.
  • Rich Set of Question Types: including single and multiple choice, numeric and integer entry, text and set entry
  • Powerful Expression Handling Logic: supports AND and OR and set inclusion and exclusion. Expressions can be simple comparisons or involve compound expressions and nested sub-expressions
  • Code Boxes: lets you access procedural code and external functions written in Flex, Prolog or traditional languages such as VB, C, C++
  • Statement Boxes: for computable answers which are not decided by questioning the user and require some table lookup or calculation
  • Integration with IDE: VisiRule integrates with the standard LPA IDE which means that you can be developing your charts and editing normal Prolog or Flex program windows at the same time with full access to all the other LPA development tools and debugger options
  • 64-bit Arithmetic: full-featured, efficient double precision built-in floating point maths library complements the 32-bit integer arithmetic
  • Multiple Document Interface: any number of charts and/or program edit windows can simultaneously opened in an MDI-standard development environment
  • Dynamic Link Libraries: you can load and access code in DLLs written using standard Windows development languages, including Visual C/C++, Visual Basic and Delphi
  • Direct Windows API interface: you can call virtually any Windows API function, or third-party DLL function, without the need to resort to C/C++ programming
  • Automatic Configuration: the same files run on Vista, WinXP, Win2k, WinNT, WinME and Win98, and fully support features of each version of the platform
  • Language Interfaces: the Intelligence Server option lets you embed your VisRule charts within C/C++, Visual Basic (VBX), Delphi, Java, C# with others planned for the near future
  • True 32-bit Implementation: a genuine Win32 application makes up to 4Gb (4096Mb) of memory is directly addressable, without complex internal segmented addressing schemes
  • Small Memory Requirements: run-time delivery needs as little as 4Mb of memory: as much space as possible is made available for use by user's chart

The VisiRule Palette and tools
The VisiRule user interface consists of two major elements: a vertical tool palette and pop up menus obtained by right clicking on either the screen or else on the objects in the flowchart. The tools include:

The Selection Tool
This is a very important tool as it allows us to select either individual objects on the flowchart, groups of such objects or the background screen itself. Once you have chosen this tool (by clicking on it with your mouse) you can then select an object (box or arc) or the background screen itself. You can also use the tool to select a group of items.

If you have clicked on a box or group of boxes, you can drag it around the screen to another position or you can right click on it to obtain its menu of options. You can also delete it (or an arc) by clicking on it and pressing the delete key.

The Navigate Tool
The Navigate Tool is used to rapidly move around a large flowchart. After choosing it your mouse cursor changes to a hand. If you want to see what is to the right of the current display you drag the screen to the left. If you want to see below the current display you drag the screen upwards.

The Text Edit Tool
Any text in the flowchart (in a Text Box, or in one of the text fields of any box type) can be edited by clicking on the text with this tool. If the flowchart has been zoomed down, the text will appear in normal size for editing.

The Arc Tool
This tool allows you to draw an arc from one box to another. Click on the first box and drag the cursor to the box you want to join the first box to. Arcs can be deleted by clicking on them with the Selection tool and then either pressing the delete key or right clicking and selecting the delete option from the resulting menu.

The Box Tools
The remaining tools are all for creating new boxes. Choose the tool for the box type you want and click on the place on the screen where you want the new box to be positioned. Do not worry if it is not exactly in place as it can be moved more precisely with the Selection Tool once you have created it.

Question Box Types
If you right click on a question box, a menu appears which includes the option 'Question Type'. The options are:

  • Single Choice: This is the default option. The menu produced will only allow the user to select one of the items on the menu.
  • Multiple Choice: This allows the user to select any or none of the items on the menu.
  • Number Input: Instead of a menu, this option provides an input box into which the user can enter any number.
  • Integer Input: This is like Number Input, but only allows the user to enter an integer.
  • Set Input: An input box is also provided by this option. The user can type in a list of items, separated by commas. For example: red, amber, green.
  • Name Input: Another input box is provided into which the user can type a word or phrase.

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