Monday, July 09, 2007

JBoss Drools vs JBoss Rules

After 18 months of the JBoss Rules name for the product, Drools name for the project, my gut feeling is the split is contrite and only causes confusion - something that Marc Fleury also expressed at the time.

The Drools brand was much stronger than expected, most sites use the two words together "JBoss Rules/Drools", "JBoss Rules aka Drools", "JBoss Rules (Drools)", looking at Jobserve shows both words are used in all adverts - this to me shows a confusion in the market, with little advantage from the dual branding. Some places still use just Drools, this is also pushed by competing vendors that leach from us and want to hide any JBoss association - although this is undesirable it is still happening and causing confusion; there isn't much we can do to improve that situation, so might as well ride the wave - otherwise we risk something worse, lose of brand association of Drools with JBoss. On that note several vendors upstream what we do, none have given a single line of code or documentation back to be project; which is a pretty sad state of affairs, they obviously feel it helps their bottom line to include the software, yet won't lift a finger to help improve it - shame on you.

JBoss Rules as a name is poor for building a community, as it's too formal - people wouldn't like to say "JBoss Hibernate" or "JBoss Seam" all day, it's fine as a title or in the opening sentence, but then you want to switch to the informal name, otherwise it gets tiresome. Drools makes a good name space naming, and a prefix/postfix naming convention for classes. It's a single word and single syllable, making it easy to aggregate into other product names - "JBoss Rules BRMS" is a bit of a mouthful "Drools BRMS" is much easier.

There is of course those that don't like the Drools name, for its childish innuendos, and I did consider re-branding to something like DRules. I feel however that a further name change would be weak, and just cause even further confusion, especially with the strength of the Drools brand. So that would just have to be something we learn to live with :)

For these reasons, and many more I didn't mention, I am considering using JBoss Drools name for the 4.0 release. Feedback welcome :) even if it's just a +1 with your choice, to help me better guage public opinion.


  1. +1 for going back to Drools as the core rule engine technology name

    I do feel that a more encompassing name is needed for the offerings/value added things like the IDE integration, etc. That is the things that make it a BRMS rather than just a Rule Engine.

  2. Yes agreed, we are moving to a platform in our own right, and beyond just Rules. With Ruleflow already in, and we should have CEP/ESP later this year and Solving. For this reason I was thinking of platform name too, something like JESP - Java Expert System Platform. Figured I'd cross that bridge once I get to it, but yes Drools could end up just being one piece tech in an AI platform.

  3. +1.
    Drools is definitely a better name to use, compared to JBoss Rules. I have seen many questions related to the naming where people have asked whether "JBoss Rules" can be used in a non-JBoss environment, mainly because they thought the name meant it was a JBoss application server specific product.

  4. I am also fine with going back to the "Drools" name. It's not the greatest name to use when speaking to large enterprises, but when we move to the platform, Rules won't be a sufficient name either.

    I'm a sucker for tradition, and I'm pretty sure that hard core drools users still call the framework by it's real name.

  5. I can understand the difficulties with any of the approaches:
    - JBoss Rules is formal, hard to make a 'short name' for.
    - JBoss Drools has, as you say, some negative connotations for some.
    - JBoss DRules might be a good long-term strategy, but would only make the problem worse in the short-term.

    With all that in mind, I agree that JBoss Drools seems to be the best of the available choices.

  6. +1 I love utilize the original name of Drools. I am constantly fumbling over saying JBoss Rules.

  7. +1 for Drools - another problem I see with the name JBoss Rules is that people shorten it to JRules, which really creates confusion.

  8. Yes I've seen JBoss JRules used in our mailing lists and else where, and Googling on "JBoss JRules" returns a large number of worrying results :(

  9. +1 to JBoss Drools.

    Don't like the name but I also hate JBoss Rules! I my opinion, only makes sense to return to Drools if, in formal environments, we prefix it with 'JBoss'.

    Curious results in Google Fight:

  10. Put comments around "JBoss Rules" otherwise it'll just pick up documents that say JBoss and Rules; but probably aren't talking about JBoss Rules.

  11. Posting to mailing list from Dave Hamu:
    As a long-time member of Jboss Rules/Drools community, first, I want to
    thank the team for quoting me in the Drools 3.0 documentation. It's
    nice to know that there are people in the community who respect my
    opinions. I didn't realize that my comments made it into the document,
    but I'm honored.

    In regard to the name game...

    I have to admit that as an old-timer, I had some difficulty switching to
    the Jboss Rules moniker. Overall, I prefer the Drools branding, due to
    the fact that it harkens back to the history of the technology that the
    Drools team developed.

    Speaking of history & age, my age and subsequent memory loss prevents me
    from recalling the genesis of the Drools name. Was it an abbreviation
    of a sorts for "Declarative Rules"?

    - Dave

  12. + for JBoss Drools

  13. +1, Drools is a way better choice for all the reasons you mentioned. Don't worry about the "childishness" of it - we're all developers, we don't care. And those that do care, are probably too stuck up to use OSS anyway.

  14. Drools is a very good. Let us stick with that. JBoss Rules or JBoss DRules may be relevant only to use it once as an introduction or to make a mention.

  15. +1 for JBoss Drools.
    +0.9 for Drools (standalone word)

    I am tired of telling and writing about "JBoss-Rules, formerly Drools"...


  16. Mark,

    I told you so, but no one listens to me. Now that I am retired you all see the wisdom of my words :P

    +2, also a RHEL/Fedora model is enough separation of products without creating the confusion that is dodging you.