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Context Support for Program Activity Implementations of Workflow Management Systems

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000123194D
Original Publication Date: 1998-Jun-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Apr-04
Document File: 3 page(s) / 138K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Leymann, F: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Introduction Workflow management systems (WFMS) support the execution of business which are modeled as a network of activities. IBM FlowMark (1, 2) is a well-known implementation of a workflow management system. In this implementation, the network of activities is constructed as a directed, acyclic, 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. Definition of the process graph is via the IBM FlowMark Definition Language (FDL) or the built-in graphical editor.

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Context Support for Program Activity Implementations of Workflow
Management Systems

   Introduction

   Workflow management systems (WFMS) support the
execution of business which are modeled as a network of activities.
IBM FlowMark (1, 2) is a well-known implementation of a workflow
management system.  In this implementation, the network of activities
is constructed as a directed, acyclic, 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.  Definition of the process graph is via the IBM
FlowMark Definition Language (FDL) or the built-in graphical editor.

   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 the following set of properties : (1) an
implementation either via another process (process activity) or a
program (program activity), (2) an input container and an output
container, (3) an exit condition , (4) a staff assignment, and (5)
an execution mode.

   The input container is made available to the program via an
application programming interface.  The program can put data into
the output container via the same application programming interface.

   When the activity implementation terminates, the exit
condition is checked.  The exit condition is a boolean expression
that references fields in the output container of the activity.  If
the exit condition evaluates to true, the activity is considered
finished, any workitems are deleted, and navigation continues.  If
the exit condition fails, the activity is re-started.

   State of the Art and Problem

   The invoked program must maintain state information to
support the multiple invocation for a single activity within a
business process.  This can be achieved in several ways:
  o  The program maintains the information in its own data
      store.  The identifiers of the process and the activity
      are passed by the workflow management system as part
      of the input container and can be used to manage the
      information in the data store.
       At least two disadvantages are associated with the
      approach (1) The program is responsible for managing the
      entries in it's data store including participation in the
      transaction processing of the workflow management system,
      and (2) If the data store is on the user's work station,
      processing on another work station can not continue, when
      the work station is no longer operational (unless the
      program maintains the data store remotely).
  o  The workflow management system supports the notion of data
      connectors that flow from the output container of an
     ...