Browse Prior Art Database

Method for Integrating Unknown Variable Data into a Workflow System

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000030627D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Aug-20
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Aug-20
Document File: 2 page(s) / 30K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

This article discloses a method for solving the problem of how to get highly variable print datastreams ( in terms of format, record length/size, AFP/non-AFP ) into a print-shop floor workflow system in such a way that the system can automatically recognize the data (within certain parameters) and track the data through the workflow. The core idea is a set of database tables that store information about "Classes" of data, and specific print file "Types" within those classes, along with a set of AFP data standards that correspond to the stored information. Essentially, as long as the data contains certain key information, or can be run through existing utilities (such as ACIF) to generate the key information, the rest of the format is extremely variable and flexible. The users of the workflow system then only need to define the data characteristics of each "Class" of data, and define specific "Job Types" to represent the specific instances of a print file of that class.

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Method for Integrating Unknown Variable Data into a Workflow System

    The problem is one of how to get highly variable print datastreams ( in terms of format, record length/size, AFP/non-AFP ) into a print-shop floor workflow system in such a way that the system can automatically recognize the data (within certain parameters) and track the data through the workflow. In these highly variable environments, a typical approach for adding each new "type" of data format into the workflow involves an extended analysis phase for the data of each new file the system was going to process, often at high cost to the customer. We at IBM have implemented many such solutions for our print customers, and have always encountered reluctance on the part of the customer to pay for data analysis every time some data change comes down from the Host group. This method is directed at solving this issue, so that the customers can make changes to existing data formats, or add new data formats (within given parameters) to the system without involving IBM or a data analysis and programming team, merely by changing some configuration information.

    The idea can be implemented in a variety of ways, the current implementation being structured as follows:

    Where the Job Type that is defined is the primary identification point of the print file in the workflow, and contains an attribute which describes which "Class" of data it belongs to. In this case, all of the class information becomes instantiated on the job once the work has been done to determine the job type. An excerpt from the Table Driven Specification describes the modifications to existing workflow to implement the invention: note that it consists of a table schema to store the attributes, code to react to the values of the attributes, and a Gra...