Before that, let’s create another simple process to see how forks work. Right-click the workflows folder and choose New, Other, Activiti Diagram. Specify "helloWorld.bpmn" for the process name and click Finish. The helloWorld process will consist of a start event, a user task, and an end event. The goal is to do nothing more than write "Hello, World!" to the Alfresco log. I am not going to spend much time talking about how the Alfresco Maven SDK works. If you aren’t already familiar with it, you may want to read the Getting Started with the Alfresco Maven SDK tutorial on ecmarchitect.com first and then come back to this one.
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That was the release when Alfresco embedded the JBoss jBPM engine into the product which meant that enterprises could route Alfresco repository content through complex business processes. The next tutorial in this series focuses on the basics of the language, providing you with enough knowledge and practice to write simple programs. Polymorphism, one of the more complex concepts you’ll encounter in OOP on the Java platform, is beyond the scope of this introductory course. You’ll explore encapsulation and inheritance in more depth in subsequent tutorials.
There are a number of standalone workflow engines—sometimes more broadly referred to as BPM —both open source and proprietary. These are often extremely robust and scalable solutions that can be used to model, simulate, and execute any process you can think of from high-volume loan processing to call center queue management. Often, these workflow engines are implemented in conjunction with a rules engine which lets business users have control over complicated if-then-else decision trees. These are two very important characteristics that help clarify the kind of workflow I am talking about. When you give the final approval for a piece of web content to be published, it is likely you are completing a workflow. When Alfresco released version 1.4 of the product, they made a huge leap forward in enterprise readiness.
Suppose you have a process in which three different departments are involved in an approval process. Maybe you’d like the workflow initiator to be able to define which of those departments are required approvers and which are optional or "FYI" reviewers. A workflow model defines how that information is going to be stored. Recall from the custom content types tutorial that share-config-custom.xml is used to configure the Alfresco Share web client.
But basic workflows are limited with regard to the complexity of the business processes they can handle. Almost every CMS available today, whether open source or proprietary, has a workflow engine of some sort embedded within it.
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Define a content model for your workflow in which workflow tasks map to content types. There will never be instances of these content types–they are solely for the purpose of defining forms that the Alfresco Share form service will understand. You may be wondering what happens to running workflow instances when a new version of the process definition is checked in. The answer is that Activiti handles that—it makes sure that running workflows continue to run with their original process definition.
By default, all new workflows will use the most current version of the process definition. You’ve seen how to start workflows and how to list and delete running workflows using the workflow console.
Alfresco added Activiti because they wanted an Apache-licensed workflow engine. It just happens that the founders of the project and several other members of the development team are employed by Alfresco. Activiti is built to be embedded in any application that has workflow requirements. What’s cool is that the work of integrating it with Alfresco has already been done for you. You can see that basic workflows are useful, and when combined with rules and actions, you can automate simple business processes.
The table below shows some other common commands and what they do. Now follow the same steps to start an instance of the helloWorldFork process. Setting "redeploy" to false prevents the workflows from being redeployed every time Alfresco restarts. This tutorial will use Spring to deploy the workflows initially. Then, use the Alfresco Workflow Console to deploy subsequent versions if needed. With a couple of, admittedly, ridiculously simple examples saved in the workflow-tutorial-platform module, it is time to deploy them to Activiti running within Alfresco and try them out.
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Any tool that produces BPMN-compliant XML can be used to define a business process and the resulting XML should theoretically work with any compliant workflow engine. When business analysts collaborate on business process projects, they can use a common diagram and language to discuss the process, regardless of the tool that is ultimately used to implement it.