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    "Apply Sheet" in Excel modified to also allow...
    Idea posted August 14, 2017 by Paul FowlerExplorer, tagged Policy Automation 
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    Title:
    "Apply Sheet" in Excel modified to also allow "Apply Entity" at runtime...
    User Story / Description:

    For background, business licensing apps collect a whole lot of attributes and have a lot of dependency rules.  The rules are very dynamic as the application grows.

    For instance, we need methods to auto-generate interviews from rules being provided by the business close to run-time.  This has caused PHP interview screens to be preferred over OPA interview screens.  

    Working backwards, we recognized that the business is giving us our attributes and dependencies in Excel tables.  These tables were being collected in an online database of questions and dependencies.  The online database of questions and dependencies matched Excel, but were dynamic and very up-to-date.  Excel was just a dump of attributes / dependencies.

    We (I) thought about that for a second and realized - Hey!  what if OPA allowed us to "Apply Entity" as well as "Apply Sheet"?  Everything looks the same for an entity, but it applies only at run-time and only IF needed.  Basically, this would require a quick run-time compile if the "Apply Entity" needs to be invoked.  Hmmmm....  That would open up a world of possibilities.  It is a form of reflection.

    Please don't knock the idea out of hand.  Introspection / reflection are used in a lot of languages for good reason.  They can greatly reduce / simplify both the volume of policy statements needed AND they could potentially allow much more dynamic interviews.  If I don't have to drag all the input attributes onto each form, but can instead reference the attribute out of an entity, then...  awesome.

    We could collect 1500 different input attributes with all the rules and only use one interview screen that is much more quickly put together.  The business could add attributes as necessary.  (Sure, eventually, I might migrate the attributes to Excel for performance gains since it is probably always faster to compile prior to runtime but the power would be awesome.)