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Method For Testing Program Activity Implemenations Of Workflow Management Systems

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000123058D
Original Publication Date: 1998-Apr-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Apr-04
Document File: 5 page(s) / 229K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Leymann, F: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Workflow management systems support the execution of business which are modeled as a network of activities. IBM FlowMark is a well-known implementation of a workflow management system. In this implementation, the network of activities is constructed as a directed, acrylic, weighted, colored graph. The nodes of the graph represent the activities to be performed. The edges of the graph describe the potential sequence of execution of the activities.

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Method For Testing Program Activity Implemenations Of Workflow Management
Systems

      Workflow management systems support the execution of business
which are modeled as a network of activities.  IBM FlowMark is a
well-known implementation of a workflow management system.  In this
implementation, the network of activities is constructed as a
directed, acrylic, weighted, colored graph.  The nodes of the graph
represent the activities to be performed.  The edges of the graph
describe the potential sequence of execution of the activities.

      Processes are created as instances of process models.  The
workflow management system executes these process instances by
interpreting the appropriate process graph and distributing the
execution of activities to the right people at the right place.

      Activities have a set of properties.  The following are
important in the context of the proposed method: (1) an
implementation either via another process (process activity) or a
program (program activity), and (2) an input container and an output
container.

      Figure 1 shows the execution of a program activity, that means
the execution of the appropriate program activity implementation.
The program activity implementation could be a simple program, such
as an .EXE or .DLL file, an ActiveX control or VisualAge part.

      Figure 1: Execution of Program Activity Implementation

      Before the workflow management system invokes the program
activity implementation via the appropriate invocation mechanism, it
materializes the input container.  The invoked program activity
implementation has access to the input container via the container
application programming interface (API).  The data is typically used
by the program activity implementation as the source of the context
in which it operates.  In the case of a loan application for example
the input container could contain a customer number to access a
customer record and the amount of loan the customer wants to obtain
from the bank.  The program activity implementation then typically
processes the data in its own data store, such as to check whether
the customer could be given the loan.  After processing, the program
activity implementation can put process relevant into the output
container via the container API such as setting the credibility
field.  This field can then be used during the execution of the
process to control the path through the business process.

      The container application programming interface allows the
program activity implementation not only to access the fields in the
input container and update fields in the output container, it also
provides meta data about the input and output container.  The meta
data describe the structure, type, name, and length of each field in
the containers and allow to determine the structure of the containers
at process execution time.

      The execution of the program activity implementation is
c...