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A Graphical Method for Specifications of Subscriptions in Workflow Management Systems

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000014414D
Original Publication Date: 2000-Aug-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-19
Document File: 3 page(s) / 124K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

1. Introduction

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  A Graphical Method for Specifications of Subscriptions in Workflow Management Systems

1. Introduction

    The idea of subscriptions is becoming more and more popular with the users of computer systems, in particular, with the increasing amount of information available. Users must no longer periodically query for new information. The appropriate computer systems offer the user the capability to subscribe to the system and specify upon which event they would like to be notified.

    Workflow management systems [1] manage the execution of business processes. Those business processes are modeled as graphs. The major constructs in drawing processes are activities and control connectors. The activities describe the tasks to be performed, and the control connectors describe the potential sequence in which the activities are to be carried out.

Figure 1 shows schematically the structure of such a process graph.

Figure 1 Process Model

    Activities are represented as named circles; the name typically describes the purpose of the activity. Activities come in various flavors to address the different tasks that may need to be performed. They may have different activity implementations to meet these diverse needs. Program activities are performed by an assigned program; process activities are performed by

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another process.

    Control connectors are represented as arrows; the head of the arrow describes the direction in which the flow of control is moving through the process. The activity where the control connector starts is called the source activity; where it ends is called the target activity. When more than one control connector leaves an activity, this indicates potentially parallel work.

    Thus, in the context of workflow management systems, subscriptions means that a customer has the capability to specify, for example, to be notified if a certain activity has completed. The problem with subscriptions is that it must be intuitive for the customer to specify such a subscription.

This software patent proposal illustrates this can be done via a graphical user interface.

2. State of the ArtWorkflow management systems typically do not support subscriptions. However, it should be no problem for workflow management systems to implement support for subscriptions. The workflow management system would provide an application programming interface which could be used to specify the subscription. A customer could for example would like to be notified when his/order is shipped. This needs then to be translated into a subscription, that fires when the Ship activity completes. Using the application programming interface, the exploiter of the workflow management system could build an appropriate interface.

    [2] shows how subscription can be implemented for a workflow management system without requiring changes to the workflow management system. However, this approach also needs that a component is writt...