Introduction to actions in WEBCON BPS

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Actions – something more than just transition between workflow steps

applies to version 8.x; author: Pawel Jawien

Introduction:

Standard workflow requirements are:

  • Filling the form
  • Defining respective steps
  • Defining transition paths between particular steps
  • Creation of tasks for users

In most cases, features described above are completely sufficient and users do not need anything else.

But… sometimes we want more, even if we are not aware of it at the beginning.

WEBCON BPS offers more – powerful mechanism of “Actions” allowing system to perform certain operations while working with it.

 

Examples of action usage:

  1. For “Leave application”, if superior approves the application, “Absence assistant” action type may configure “Automatic replies (Out of Office)” for the period of Outlook/Exchange user absence. It will inform Exchange correspondents that given user is out of office.
  2. Timeout notification – if process has to work continuously, it is possible to configure notifications/reminders for users with assigned tasks. For example if system is stopped at a certain step for more than 24 hours, then properly configured action will send a reminder to accountable user. Such notification may be repeated, e.g. every 10 minutes until the task is completed.
  3. Extension of point 2 – if after, for example, 36 hours, the task is not accomplished despite the reminders, then the escalation path is initiated and the task is forwarded to a superior of previous user.
  4. Starting subworkflows – system allows to configure actions which start subworkflows
  5. In HR process – while hiring a new employee, system allows to configure an action which creates an Active Directory account (login) for new user, based on data entered into the form by HR Department.

Examples given above are just a small sample of 39 predefined types of actions grouped in 8 types.

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If number of predefined actions was multiplied by number of ways to call them, then we would get quite substantial amount of possibilities to enrich how the system behaves.

 

Action types:

Action type defines with what kind of activity or document state an action may be performed. We can distinct two basic types in dependence of the place of action calling in process:

  1. Global actions
  2. Actions in step

Global actions are not associated to any special step in process. They refer to the whole process. According to the fact that global actions are not connected to any step or any path, in case of global actions there are five ways to call them.

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  • On browser opening – action is called if user with assigned task (or his substitute) opens the document in browser
  • Menu button – action is called after clicking the menu button which is displayed on the document after opening it in browser
  • On start (Cyclical) – cyclical action, not attached to any specific document (allows to start workflows). Execution frequency may be freely configured.
  • On document deleting – action is calling takes place when given document is being deleted from workflow
  • On document saving – action called when document is not being sent to next step, but just saved.
  • Attachments menu – action allows to add custom actions to attachments menu.

 

In step actions – connected to certain workflow step. In this case actions may be called analogically as global actions but for such action kind, it is possible to use call ups as well:

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  • On entry – document state defining entry to target step, after transition between steps
  • On exit – state defining exit from the step, before transition between steps
  • On path – transition between workflow steps

Action types:

Below, a list of grouped action types available to perform:

Notifications

  • Absence assistant – allows management of MS Exchange “Automatic replies (Out of Office)” option
  • Exchange calendar – allows adding/editing/deleting an entry in MS Exchange user calendar
  • Lync message – allows to send a message using Lync messenger
  • Send email – sends standard mail with information about actual field values which are visible on given element
  • Send custom email – allows to send an email message which title, contents and recipients may be freely customized
  • Exchange tasks – allows to add/edit/delete task from “Tasks” folder for given MS Exchange user

Print/Generate

  • Generate DOCX – generates DOCX file according to template created by user
  • Generate PDF – generates PDF files according to template (in form of html file) created by user
  • Print HTML – generates html files according to template created by user

 

Control

  • Move element to next step – allows to skip current step and automatically move element to next one using path defined in configuration
  • Execute validation query – action used to check a condition given in a form of SQL query
  • Create task – allows to add additional tasks on a given workflow element

Modifications

  • Attachment OCR – allows adding a text layer on every attached files (in PDF)
  • Change many fields’ values – causes overwriting of few form fields by assigning column values from chosen data source. If data source is specified then the query is performed with connection parameters given in data source definition
  • Change field value – overwrites field value
  • Permission increase – gives additional permissions for workflow element. Permissions are given until transition to next step
  • Permission reduction – causes reduction in permissions on a given workflow element. Permissions are being reduced until transition to next step
  • Update element status – after execution of this action, system checks if the element has a parent workflow. If such workflow exists and it is waiting for subworkflows then subworkflows are verified

Subworkflows

  • Move many workflows to next step – allows to move many workflows to next step
  • Start many workflows – allows to create number of workflows using information available in current one
  • Start new workflow – allows to create a new workflow using information available in current one
  • Update parent workflow – allows to change field values on parent workflow

AD administration

  • Active Directory groups administration – allows to create or delete Active Directory groups
  • Active Directory users administration – allows to create or edit AD user accounts on the basis of form fields available in workflow
  • Administration of users in AD groups – action allows to add or delete users from AD groups

Barcodes

  • Add barcode – allows to add new barcode on attachments connected to workflow document
  • Print barcode – allows to print a sticker with barcode connecting paper document with workflow
  • Read barcode – allows to read a barcode from attachments connected to document

SharePoint

  • Add element to SharePoint list – adds new elements on basis of rules defined in configuration
  • Add SharePoint list form template – creates SharePoint list on basis of previously created SharePoint list templates
  • Edit element of SharePoint list – allows to edit specific element from SharePoint list
  • Remove element of SharePoint list – allows to delete one element from SharePoint list or number of elements using CAML query, it also has an option to verify amount of deleted items
  • Remove SharePoint list – removes SharePoint list under given address

 

Others

  • Custom action (SDK) – allows to call SDK control created by administrator of workflow system
  • Execute SQL procedure – action causes performing of given query. It may be defined on MSSQL or Oracle data source
  • Hyperlink – allows to go to the site with given address, opening site in new window or calling Javascript function
  • Webservice invocation – allows to call webservice method. Parameters transferred to the method may be in direct form or SQL query. Returned value may be written to form field
  • Manual workflow start – allows to start chosen workflow using menu button

Detailed configuration with examples is described in articles from “BPS Actions” category

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