Browse Prior Art Database

Dynamically Structured Messaging Mechanism

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000013071D
Original Publication Date: 2001-Apr-13
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-12

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Organizations that form dynamically to resolve some problem often benefit from adopting some kind of structure. In general these organizations do not conform to existing hierarchies such as the chain of command within an enterprise; for example activities such as filing a travel expense report involve personnel in a slice across the organizational chart. Whilst electronic tools such as email help in this respect they do not allow dynamic and explicit organizations to be established in a pragmatic way. Other, more complex tools such as workflow management systems require the process to be modeled beforehand making them less adaptable and unsuitable for ad hoc process support. A dynamically structured messaging mechanism is proposed that allows problem-solving organizations to be easily established and then helps to coordinate the collaborative effort needed to reach the organization's goal. 1. INTRODUCTION Herein the technical architecture used to implement dynamically structured messaging is described. The mechanism is designed as a general-purpose device to support and enhance a problem solving activity where more than one participant: human, computer or otherwise, contribute to reaching some common goal. This mechanism can be used in order to solve business problems in a workflow support environment. The UML notation is used throughout this paper for object, state and class diagrams.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
At least one non-text object (such as an image or picture) has been suppressed.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 20% of the total text.

Page 1 of 12

Dynamically Structured Messaging Mechanism

  Organizations that form dynamically to resolve some problem often
benefit from adopting some kind of structure. In general these
organizations do not conform to existing hierarchies such as the
chain of command within an enterprise; for example activities such
as filing a travel expense report involve personnel in a slice
across the organizational chart. Whilst electronic tools such as
email help in this respect they do not allow dynamic and explicit
organizations to be established in a pragmatic way. Other, more
complex tools such as workflow management systems require the
process to be modeled beforehand making them less adaptable and
unsuitable for ad hoc process support. A dynamically structured
messaging mechanism is proposed that allows problem-solving
organizations to be easily established and then helps to coordinate
the collaborative effort needed to reach the organization's goal.

1. INTRODUCTION

Herein the technical architecture used to implement dynamically
structured messaging is described.

The mechanism is designed as a general-purpose device to support
and enhance a problem solving activity where more than one
participant: human, computer or otherwise, contribute to reaching
some common goal. This mechanism can be used in order to solve
business problems in a workflow support environment. The UML
notation is used throughout this paper for object, state and
class diagrams.

2. BACKGROUND
2.1 Electronic Circulation Folders

The messages passed between collaborators are implemented as
Electronic Circulation Folder (ECF). The ECF contains all the
data associated with a single process instance and includes:

   Data relating to the process instance as a whole such as the
o
initiator and the name of the process
The process data: a list of editable named fields containing
o
data directly relating to the process instance such as "Part
number" and " Quantity"

   ECF template: meta-data describing the process data
o
containing data types, constraints and other related
information. An example might be 'Quantity is an integer
greater than 0'.

The current implementation uses a single shared copy of the ECF

1

Page 2 of 12

to represent each instance of a given process.

2.2 Resources

Addressable entities in a workflow are generically known as
resources, that is an ECF can be 'sent to' a resource. Figure 1
shows the class structure used to represent resources.

Figure 1. The resource model

A resource may either be a group or a participant. Groups contain
at least one resource. Groups may be nested although recursion is
prohibited - a group cannot contain itself. Participants are
entities capable of actually performing the activities making up
a workflow process two examples of which are shown in the
diagram: person and program. Some realizations of these classes
might be:

Group : "Claims department", "All managers", "The whole
enterprise"

Person : "John", "Mary"

Program : "Database agent", "Mortgage calculator"

3. STRUCTURING MECHANISM

Rathe...