Workflow Systems: Myths, Truths and Wishful Thinking

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Information about Workflow Systems: Myths, Truths and Wishful Thinking
Education

Published on September 22, 2009

Author: TheSatch

Source: slideshare.net

Description

IASA Denver Talk on Workflow Systems, September 2009

Workflow Systems Myths, Truths and Wishful Thinking Brandon Satrom Chief Architect, Thought Ascent brandon.satrom@thoughtascent.com www.userinexperience.com

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc About Me - In Six Words Opinionated Architect. Often wrong. Continually improving.

Long-time Microsoft developer Former Enterprise Architect Alt.Net guy, but still nice President, IASA Austin Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc Worth mentioning?

Experience with vendor WF tools Experience with BizTalk (2002+) Recently built a successful production implementation using WF 3.5 See that “opinionated architect” comment. Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc What qualifies me to talk about Workflow…

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc So what is “Workflow” anyway?

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc A workflow is a depiction of a sequence of operations, declared as work of a person, a group of persons, an organization of staff, or one or more simple or complex mechanisms. Workflow may be seen as any abstraction of real work, segregated in workshare, work split or other types of ordering. For control purposes, workflow may be a view on real work under a chosen aspect, thus serving as a virtual representation of actual work. The flow being described often refers to a document that is being transferred from one step to another. – from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workflow

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc How about something simpler?

The coordination of work in a “system” Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc Got it. So then what’s a “Workflow System?”

Perhaps… An application that assists in the definition and/or execution and/or management of workflows Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc That sounds too similar to a “normal” system. What’s the difference?

How a workflow system differs from a traditional program In theory, at least… Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Declarative Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Persistent Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc External Stimulus Persistence Store

Dynamic Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc Business Change Activity F Divert to new activity

Configurable Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc Activity D Activity E Rules Store

Centrally Defined… Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

… though not necessarily visual. Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc static SessionSaga() { Define(() => { Initially( When(NewSession) .Then((saga, message) => saga.NewSessionStarted(message)) .TransitionTo(SessionActive) ); During(SessionActive, When(FeedbackCheckRequested) .Then((saga, message) => saga.CheckForFeedback(message)) When(new Timer() .StartOn(session.Start) .RunAtInterval(session.CheckInterval) .Until(session.End)) .Then((saga, message) => saga.CheckForFeedback(message)) When(SessionComplete) .Then((saga, message) => saga.SessionEnded(message)) .Complete() ); });}

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc Ok, I get it. So why are we still doing this presentation?

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc Workflow has a PR problem…

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc There seem to be two sides…

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc …who can’t (or won’t) get along.

The “Workflow will Save us all” side Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

The “Run like you’re on fire” side Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc I’d like a third option please.

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc How about the best of both?

Consider both sides of the story…

And be a cautious optimist… Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

There are reasons to get excited about Workflow… Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc Visual, Visual, Visual

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc Clear expression of intent from domain experts…

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc The Next “Great Leap” in software

…and there are reasons to be wary… Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Steep-learning curves Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc Poor Performance

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc Sleights of hand and shell-games

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc Both sides are right … Both sides are wrong….

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc Right and wrong? How so?

Myths, Truths and Wishful Thinking Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

1) Visual Workflow Tools are the only way to “do” Workflow Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Myth Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Is this really easier to comprehend… Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Than this? require 'rubygems' require 'statemachine' vending_machine = Statemachine.build do state :waiting do event :dollar, :paid, :activate event :selection, :waiting on_entry :sales_mode on_exit :operation_mode end trans :paid, :selection, :waiting, :release trans :paid, :dollar, :paid, :refund context VendingMachineContext.new end Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

The Truth Many open-source “code-first” solutions offer most of the benefits of a workflow system without the steep learning curve. Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Demo –Workflow with Mass Transit Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

2) Workflow should be running all your application logic Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Lie Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Turn a simple flow… Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

…into “Spaghetti Flow” Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

The Truth Workflow systems can be a good choice for managing long-running, complex processes, but don’t yet perform well-enough to handle all your logic. Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

3) Domain experts can (and should) easily change workflows at runtime Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Wishful Thinking… Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

The Truth We don’t change systems at runtime without some diligence. So why would our users? That said. There are models that are more illustrative of reality… Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc



4) Declarative/Visual App Dev is easier than traditional dev… Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Half-Truth Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

The Truth Where it’s easier: OOB programming constructs (IF, While, etc) Encourages/ Rewards SRP-development Where it’s harder: Visual IDEs slower than code IDEs Testing is hard, if not impossible Refactoring involves more rework than necessary Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

5) “I can build a WF system in 100 lines of code” Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Wishful Thinking… Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

The Truth Code-only solutions can address simple scenarios quickly… But tend to unravel when persistence, durability, scale,timed-events, long-running processes, human workflow and other complex issues are introduced. Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

The Faceplant Application “Social Speaking” Demo: Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc Congratulations! You’ve done an excellent job of not telling me what I should do…

Open Discussion – When should a Workflow Tool be considered? Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

When does WF make sense? … Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc I think it’s time for the bottom line…

There is no simple answer… Only the right tool for the job Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

The Right Tool for The Job might be… “Roll Your Own” Workflow Use an open-source Bus NServiceBus Mass Transit Simple ServiceBus Use an open-source State management tool Simple State Machine Use Windows WF After you’ve exhausted all other possibilities Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Consider a “Workflow System” when: Need a visual, changeable representation Timed-events are key Long-running: Transactions Conversations Services Many, complex processes Economies of scale principle Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Don’t start with a workflow system as a solution. Get there by eliminating other options Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

And pay attention… Software development is changing. Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Questions? brandon.satrom@thoughtascent.com www.userinexperience.com Twitter: @thesatch Code and slides available at: http://github.com/bsatrom/WorkflowSystems Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

Image Credits WF System, InfoWorld http://www.infoworld.com/d/developer-world/product-review-ultimus-jump-starts-bpm-deployment-546?page=0,1 Pinnochio – House of Sims, Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/houseofsims/2662410465/ Myth – Mythbusters on Discovery http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/mythbusters/wallpaper/wallpaper.html Steep Learning Curve – Casual Game Design http://www.casualgamedesign.com/?p=27 Skeptic Guy – Flick http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcleod/3909431214/in/set-72157607796029636 Copyright 2009, Thought Ascent, Inc

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