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State/execution dependent transition conditions in workflow management systems

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000020711D
Original Publication Date: 2003-Dec-10
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Dec-10
Document File: 2 page(s) / 42K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Workflow Management Systems support the definition and execution of business processes. Business processes are typically described as directed, acyclic, colored and weighted graphs. An integral part of those graphs are transition conditions which are attached to the control links describing the condition under which a control link is being followed. Transition conditions are Boolean expression using the data associated with the process as part of the individual expressions making up the Boolean expression. It is proposed to include the state or execution history of individual activities or sets of activities as part of transition conditions; this provides for increased flexibility in transition conditions.

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State/execution dependent transition conditions in workflow management systems

Workflow management system support the definition and execution of business processes. A detailed description of such a system and its capabilities can be found in the book authored by F. Leymann and Dieter Roller, Production Workflow: Concepts and Techniques, Prentice Hall, 2000. Description of business processes is done either by some graphical end user interface or more importantly by some language. The purpose of the language is to define precisely all functions that can be used when describing business processes. One of these functions that can be defined for a business process are transition conditions. Transition conditions are associated with control links. Control links connect a source activity with a target activity. When the transition condition associated with a control link evaluates to true, the control link is followed. A transition condition is a Boolean expression. The expression typically references data associated with the process. It is proposed to extend transition conditions with the capability to reference the state of activities or set of activities (scopes,spheres) as well as the execution history.

    The Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPELWS), jointly authored by BEA, Microsoft*, IBM*, and Siebel and submitted by the companies to OASIS for standardization, is such a language for defining business processes. Explanation in this disclosure are made in terms of BPEL4WS constructs. However this is for illustration purpose only; any other method for describing business processes including other languages can be substituted for explaining the concept of transition conditions and the proposed extensions.

    Transition conditions are specified in BPEL4WS as part of the source activity as shown in the following code snippet. Note that other languages attach the transition conditions to the control link.:

<links>

<link name="A2B"/>

</links>

<invoke name="A">

<source linkName="A2B"

transitionCondition="transitionCondition"/>

</invoke>

<invoke name="B">

<target linkName="A2B"/>

</invoke>

The code snippet shows two activities A and B with A being executed before
B. This sequence is specified as follows: The link element enclosed in the links elements specifies a link with the name of A2B. This link is specified as the source for activity A and as target for activity B meaning that A is executed, then B is executed. Whether B is executed at all depends on the transition c...