SBVR: Observations from Initial Experiences

Silvie   Spreeuwenberg
Silvie Spreeuwenberg Founder / Director, LibRT Read Author Bio || Read All Articles by Silvie Spreeuwenberg

Perhaps I am the first to actually train business people in the SBVR standard.  The question came from a group of business people and business architects who believed, based on articles in this journal and the available information on the OMG website, that SBVR would be the language that would help them in formulating rules in a consistent way.  They printed the SBVR specification and, although it looked impressive and they had to run twice to the printer to add more paper, reading the specification did not help them achieve their goal.

One of the first things they asked me based on what they read in the specification is:  "What does 'open world' mean?"  Well, to get a good understanding of why that word is in the SBVR standard, they needed far more training than was necessary to write better rules ... and so they got that training as well.

The SBVR training that I have repeated several times since that first time follows the SBVR specification strictly but it presents the topics in a different order.  The training provides an explanation of almost all concepts that are described in the SBVR specification and is targeted at consultants and tool vendors who need to decide whether and how they may support SBVR in their product or service offerings.  But often business people who actually need a language for writing better rules also join the training. 

Both types of SBVR users have two recurring questions:

  1. When do we get an SBVR 'lite'?

Some people feel that they only need a subset of the SBVR vocabularies and they would like to have it presented in a consistent way.

  1. Are there any SBVR writing guidelines?

Most organizations are looking for ways to write clear, unambiguous, and consistent rules and are surprised that SBVR does not standardize the way rules are written; it only standardizes the meaning of the rules.

New possibilities with SBVR already exist because the vision behind SBVR is a great source of inspiration, and you can use that inspiration directly in your daily work.  However, for SBVR to take off, we need the right tools and educational material for different users of the inspiration.  SBVR will not be used directly, but it will inspire tool vendors and business people to create new ways of working with knowledge in organizations.

I am very sure that SBVR-lite, SBVR writing guidelines, and SBVR-inspired tools and methodologies will be available in the short term.  Probably there will be many SBVR-inspired things that I can not think of or that have a very different focus on some aspect of the SBVR standard.  The process of creativity can not be predicted nor standardized.

SBVR is about meaning and standardizing meaning.  But SBVR has different meanings for the various members of the submission team and it will have a different meaning for business, management, and IT.  The meaning of SBVR for me, personally, is that of an intellectual journey with a multidisciplinary team consisting of logicians, linguists, and consultants with a lot of practical experience working in rules-intensive environments.  The meaning of SBVR for me as a rules practitioner is that of writing better rules.

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Standard citation for this article:

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Silvie Spreeuwenberg , "SBVR: Observations from Initial Experiences" Business Rules Journal, Vol. 9, No. 3, (Mar. 2008)

About our Contributor:

Silvie   Spreeuwenberg
Silvie Spreeuwenberg Founder / Director, LibRT

Silvie Spreeuwenberg has a background in artificial intelligence and is the co-founder and director of LibRT. With LibRT, she helps clients draft business rules in the most efficient and effective way possible. Her clients are characterized by a need for agility and excellence in executing their unique business strategy or policy. Silvie's experience has resulted in the development of tools and techniques to increase the quality of business rules. She writes, "We believe that one should focus on quality management of business rules to make full profit of the business rules approach." LibRT is located in the Netherlands; for more information visit &

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