How to Embed a jBPM Process in a Java EE Application

jBPM APIs allow you to manage complex processes without a dedicated server

How to Embed a jBPM Process in a Java EE Application

You have some nasty business workflows that need to be tamed.

And you've heard how easy it is to build, visualize, and modify complex processes with JBoss BPMS (now called Process Automation Manager).

But even though you want this functionality, you don’t have the resources to set up a standalone server.

So..what do you do?

BPMS, Without a Dedicated Server

If you want process management without a standalone server, then you can..

Embed JBPM in Your Application

You can use the JBPM APIs to run your processes directly from your java code.

What You’ll Need

  1. JBoss Developer Studio w/ JBoss EAP 7.1+ Download here
  2. JBoss Maven Repositories (Section 1: Steps 4-7)
  3. Basic Maven & EJB knowledge

Build a KJAR

Step 1: Download and import the simple-process-starter project

  • It's a bare java 1.8 maven project

Step 2: Change packaging to kjar

  • In your pom.xml, add the jbpm version between the property tags
  • Add the kie maven plugin in between the build tags
  • Change packaging to kjar (a package structure for workflow files)

Step 3: Add a kmodule descriptor

  • In src/main/resources/META-INF, create a file called kmodule.xml with the following:
<kmodule xmlns="" xmlns:xsi=""/>

Step 4: Add a sample process

  • Create the folder src/main/resources/com/sample
  • Unzip this and copy the process (the bpmn file) into that folder
  • If you want to view the process diagram, download the BPM eclipse plugin. I'm using v1.4.3

Step 5: Build & Deploy to Maven Repo

  • Right click your project -> Run as -> Maven Build. In the goals section, type:
clean install

Run an Embedded Process

Step 1: Download & import the embedded-process-starter project

  • It’s a single page web application. After we’re done, we’ll be able to start a process with one click.
  • The pom.xml contains dependencies for running a jBPM process.
  • The persistence.xml contains standard objects and queries for jBPM

Step 2: Deploy the KJAR

  • Open the StartupBean class. It's an EJB that runs at startup (@Startup)
  • Inside this class, declare a DeploymentService EJB
DeploymentServiceEJBLocal deploymentService;
  • In the init() method, deploy the kjar we just built.
String[] gav = DEPLOYMENT_ID.split(":"); // Splits into group, artifact, and version 

DeploymentUnit deploymentUnit = new KModuleDeploymentUnit(gav[0], gav[1], gav[2]); 

  • The group, artifact and version specify which artifact we want to deploy

Step 3: Start the process

  • In ProcessServlet, declare a ProcessorService EJB
private ProcessServiceEJBLocal processService;
  • In doPost(), add code to start our process
long processInstanceId = -1; 
Map<String, Object> params = new HashMap<String, Object>(); 
processInstanceId = processService.startProcess(StartupBean.DEPLOYMENT_ID, "com.sample.bpmn.hello", params); 

System.out.println("Process instance " + processInstanceId + " has been successfully started.");

Step 4: Build & Deploy to JBoss

  • Right click your project -> Run as -> Maven Build.
Goals: clean install
  • Deploy using Method 1 here. If you're on EAP 7, be sure to start your server with the full profile:
./ --server-config=standalone-full.xml

Step 5: Start a process


Build a kjar

We created a kjar with our sample process and deployed it to maven

  • KJAR (knowledge jar) -  a packaged artifact of all our business rules & process files
  • kie-maven-plugin - a plugin to compile our processes & create the kjar
  • kmodule - a kjar descriptor

Run an Embedded process

1: We declared a DeploymentService to deploy our process.

  • The group, artifact and version (GAV) specify the package to deploy.

2: We used ProcessService to start our process.

  • com.sample.bpmn.hello is the processId
  • When we click “Start Process” on our webpage, it starts this flow. See below

3: Our sample process has a Script Task that prints out “Hello World”

Best Practices for Embedded jBPM

Keep your workflow files (processes, rules) in a separate project from your application code. This will make it easy to change your code & workflows independently.

And, if possible, use JBoss BPM Suite for a centralized repo solution instead of embedding jBPM in your application.


  1. jBPM APIs allow you to manage complex processes without a dedicated server
  2. We package processes inside a kjar, deploy it to maven, and run it in our application
  3. Be sure to keep your process file separate!
  1. Project Source Code (1 & 2)
  2. BPM User Guide
  3. Overview of BPM Services API

Happy Coding!