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Workflow

Posted on 2004-10-21
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Last Modified: 2006-11-17
1. What is workflow ?
   
2. I have been asked to study J2EE workflow.
   What's J2ee workflow and where can I get information on it ?

3. What is JMS used for ?
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Question by:thomas908
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by:zzynx
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by:petmagdy
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Workflow is a software that provides IDE to design a business process flow, an example product is Oracle workflow it is a J2EE workflow check this:

http://www.oracle.com/technology/products/ias/workflow/index.html

JMS is a J2EE standard for messaging to be used in Assynhronouss applications like the url zzynx provided
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sbockelman earned 1800 total points
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Workflow is not software.

Software can be used to facilitate or automate workflow.

Essentially workflow is some ( usually business ) process involving multiple steps, possibly some parallelism, conditional steps, information routing, etc.  

An atypical example might be something like getting an employee's birthday card signed by all members of a department.  In an ad hoc fashion, this is usually done by passing around a folder with the card in it and having everyone just "pass it on"; a more efficient version of this workflow would be to include a list of the people in the department in the folder, and as each person signs the card, he or she checks off his or her name, so someone won;t try to pass it on to him or her again.  But, ah...what to do if someone leaves it on someone's desk who is on vacation, or someone follishly passes it on to the actual birthday boy or girl.  These are the kinds of responsiveness and security issues that can occur in more mission crtical workflows.

More typical examples of workflow might be a sophisticated telecommunications order and fulfillment process.  A customer makes a request for some new service; several steps and several people are involved in setting up (or provisioning) the service components, modifying billing system data, communicating status to the customer, etc.  Some of these things can be done in parallel (say, entering billing data while routers are being configured -- different people in different places doing independent tasks).

For more in-depth discussion of workflow, try:  

http://www.wfmc.org/

or

http://www.insead.fr/CALT/Encyclopedia/ComputerSciences/Groupware/Workflow/

As for J2EE Workflow; there is nothing specific in the platform that provides workflow (that's a higher-level concept), but the building blocks are there.  One of these is JMS, which provides for asynchronous messaging.  Message Oriented Middleware (MOM) is a huge topic all its own, so... I won;t try to go into that here, too.  But the gist is that independent systems or parts of systems can publish messages to a queue, where another system or systems is "listening".  The publisher doesn't wait around for the listeners, it just deposits its message and goes on.  Listeners repond to messages as they see fit and may in turn leave a new message of their own, in which the orginal sender may be interested.  Again, if the orginal sender is a listening (subscribed to the queue), at some later time, it will respond to the message.  (This is only one form of MOM, known as publish/subscribe, but it is probably the most common.)

I suggest googling for J2EE Workflow and checking with sourceforge.net to see if there are open source J2EE workflow products.

Above all, don't expect to learn and evaluate workflow capabilities in less than 3-6 weeks.  If you are new to the topic area, you may not appreciate some of the features or claims of the various competing products in the market... or you may not yet see how workflow solutions can benefit you or you customers.  

Good Luck!


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by:thomas908
ID: 12387253
Thanks
That was a nice explanation. I'll wait for a couple of more days before closing this thread,  just in case anyone else wants to post a comment.
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by:zzynx
ID: 12397848
Thanks
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