Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: @CloudExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

4WS.Platform and Activiti BPM | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

4WS.Platform and the Activiti BPM engine have been fully integrated with each other

BPMN or Business Process Model and Notation is a standard used to describe internal processes of an organization and to provide a graphical representation for a shared procedure, managed by the involved employees and services, in order to optimize the efficiency of the procedure.

A Business Process Model can be applied to cover a variety of needs, including reminders, timeouts, replacements, email notifications, etc.

Using a Business Process Model in a large and complex process makes it possible to get a high efficiency, especially for these reasons:

  • Easy to use and learn
  • Higher execution speed of the procedure
  • Reduction in the execution time of the whole process

In order to allow the definition and management of complex business processes using a unique front-end, the Activiti BPM engine and designer have been embedded into 4WS.Platform EE, a Rapid Application Development solution, also available with an open source license (click to see available licenses) and able to create web applications including BPM processes.

Activiti is considered one of the best BPM open source engines.

However, if used as a standalone product, it has a few weaknesses:

  • Lack of a document management system inside a process: there is not the support of document versioning, storing and searching for documents forwarded to an external CMS
  • A poor and not very user friendly GUI: the provided user interface is quite rigid and not focused on the final user needs
  • A poor data validation: the supported data format includes only text, numbers, fixed enumeration and dates, not validated data through a dynamic list of values, nor translated data.

These weak points have been already successfully addressed in 4WS.Platform, so that the embedding of Activiti takes advantage of the 4WS.Platform features, including a high level of customization at GUI and business logic level.

The main advantages provided by this integration are:

  • Document storing and sharing can be delegated to 4WS.Platform or other extensions, including Alfresco CMS
  • An alternative and better customizable user interface can replace the native GUI provided by Activiti
  • A larger set of graphics components are available through 4WS.Platform, including data validation, mandatory fields, additional data types, supported both at the web GUI and at the database layer.

Thanks to this integration, 4WS.Platform allows to design and configure web and mobile applications with a high level of customization and this is due to the availability of the business processes too, managed at business and GUI levels.

From theory to practice
Now it is time to move from theory to a real example of how to manage processes through 4WS.Platform, which makes it possible to graphically design a business process and monitor its execution, step by step, until its end.

Let's start from the Administration -> Activiti menu available in the 4WS.Platform Web Designer. This menu is composed of these functionalities, all related to the BPM management:

  • Processes
  • Instances
  • To do list
  • History

Processes
Starting from this menu item, it is possible to create new processes and show the list of already designed processes. Through this menu processes can also be started manually, along with input data required when starting the process.

Schermata 2015-02-10 alle 10.34.06.png

A new process can be created in two alternative ways:

  1. By importing a file in '.bpmn' format, which defines a business process; this file can be created externaly, for instance through a stand alone designer available as an Eclipse plugin;
  2. By using the Activiti Modeler, included in 4WS.Platform; this modeler has a web front-end embedded in 4WS.Platform that can be used to graphically design a process and create a model; models can then be converted to active processes; all these operations can be managed internally to 4WS.Platform.

The web modeler can be accessed starting from the list of models when choosing a model, or by pressing the new model button.

A more detailed description of how to use the Activiti web modeler can be found in its project documentation (http://www.activiti.org/).

Schermata 2015-02-10 alle 10.38.02.png

Another way to create a new model is through the duplication of an already existing process and then use the web modeler to change the copy.

Finally, it is always possible to create a ‘.bpmn' file by exporting a model, for instance with the goal of creating a backup copy of the process.

Once completed the process definition and converted the model to an active process, the process selection will show its detail, composed of the process name, version and the picture representing the process definition.

The process detail includes also a button to start the process and optionally fill in the variables involved with the starting task.

This variables pane is configurable through the 4WS.Platform's Web Designer, since it is managed like any other configurable panel defined within Platform.

Instances
After starting a process, the process execution is showed in the instances list, which is composed of 3 sections:

  • Process versions, reporting the versioned processes list, having at least one active instance
  • Process executions, showing all active instances or only instances related to the selected process in the first list
  • The detail pane on the right reports several information about the process execution: the graphical representation of the process and the exact task currently in execution/waiting state; for that task, several information are available: name, process, assignee, expiration time, as well as the process and task variables with their value.

Schermata 2015-02-10 alle 11.06.31.png

Activities
This feature reports the list of tasks potentially assigned to the current user and the list of already assigned tasks.

When selecting a task from the first list (tasks potentially assigned), the user can assign to himself that task or assign it to another user compatible with that task, i.e., belonging to the same group of users potentially assigned to that task.

When selecting an already assigned task, the panel on the right will show the list of variables and let the user to set the values for those variables.

Once completed a task, it can be closed to move forward the process execution. Another way to close a task is through other Platform functionalities, which can automatically close a task when a specific event is fired.

History
Every completed process is showed within the History functionality, whose operation is similar to the Instances feature.

Schermata 2015-02-10 alle 11.08.01.png

Conclusion
4WS.Platform and the Activiti BPM engine have been fully integrated with each other.

Thanks to that, 4WS.Platform has become an ideal tool for those organizations who want to develop web and mobile applications autonomously and by exploiting all the features provided by this mixture, as well as the high level of customization available and the continuos improvement of this solution.

To sum up, Activiti and 4WS.Platform make it possible to manage business processes, including simple features such as email notifications or documents approval/storage and they also allow administrator to get a full control and monitoring of processes defined and in progress.

More Stories By Lorenzo Luccon

Lorenzo Luccon is a Software Architect at Sinesy. He has more than 10 years of enterprise software development experience utilizing JEE technologies, including JSP, JS, Swing, EJB, JPA. He started focusing more on GUI-based client/server Java applications since 2001, then moved to web rich applications, including Sencha ExtJS.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
Whenever a new technology hits the high points of hype, everyone starts talking about it like it will solve all their business problems. Blockchain is one of those technologies. According to Gartner's latest report on the hype cycle of emerging technologies, blockchain has just passed the peak of their hype cycle curve. If you read the news articles about it, one would think it has taken over the technology world. No disruptive technology is without its challenges and potential impediments t...
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of San...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...