Administering Workflows

Workflows enable you to automate Experience Manager activities. Workflows consist of a series of steps that are executed in a specific order. Each step performs a distinct activity such as activating a page or sending an email message. Workflows can interact with assets in the repository, user accounts, and Experience Manager services. Therefore, workflows can coordinate complicated activities that involve any aspect of Experience Manager. 

The business processes that your organization has established can be represented as workflows. For example the process of publishing web site content typically includes steps such as approval and sign-off by various stakeholders. These processes can be implemented as AEM workflow models and applied to content pages and assets.

For information about participating in workflows, see Using Workflows. For information about creating workflow models and extending workflow functionality, see Developing and Extending Workflows. For information about improving the performance of workflows that use significant server resources, see Concurrent Workflow Processing.

Workflow Models and Instances

Workflow administrators are responsible for monitoring workflow instances and making sure that they progress as designed. Workflow models in AEM are the representation and implementation of business processes. Workflow models typically act on a page or asset to acheive a specific result. This page or asset is called the workflow payload. Workflow models consist of a series of steps that perform a specific task. The payload is passed from step to step as the workflow progresses.

When a workflow model is started (executed), a workflow instance is created. A workflow model can be started multiple times, each time generating a distinct workflow instance. For each instance, the steps that the workflow model defines are executed.

Workflow instances progress through the following lifecycle:   

  1. The workflow model is started and a workflow instance is created and running. The payload of the workflow instance is identified when the model is started. AEM authors, administrators, or services can start workflow models.
  2. The first step of the workflow model is executed. 
  3. The step is completed and the workflow engine uses the model to determine the next step to execute.
  4. The subsequent steps in the workflow model are executed and completed. When the final step is completed, the workflow instance is completed.

Many useful workflow models are provided with Experience Manager. In addition, the developers in your organization can create custom workflow models, tailored to the specific needs of your business processes.

Workflow Steps

When workflow steps are executed, they are associated with a workflow instance. The history of a workflow instance includes information about each step that has executed for the instance. This information is useful for investigating problems that occur during execution.

Either a user or a service performs workflow steps, depending on the type of step:

  • When a user performs a step, they are assigned a work item that is placed in their Inbox. The user is responsible for manually completing the step so that the workflow instance progresses.
  • When a service performs a step, upon completion the workflow instance progresses automatically to the next step.