Oracle Workflow (OWF)

Oracle Workflow delivers a complete workflow management system that supports business process based integration. Its technology enables modeling, automation, and continuous improvement of business processes, routing information of any type according to user-defined business rules. Oracle Workflow also provides an infrastructure for the enterprise-wide communication of data related to defined business events, providing the capabilities needed to:

 • Manage enterprise business processes that may span trading partners

• Support standard and personalized business rules

• Streamline and automate transaction flows

• Manage exceptions without manual intervention

 Oracle Workflow lets you model and maintains your business processes using a graphical workflow builder. You can model and automate sophisticated business processes, defining processes that can loop, branch into parallel flows and rendezvous, decompose into sub-flows, branch on task results, time out, and more. Acting as a system integration hub, Oracle Workflow can apply business rules to control objects and route them between applications and systems. It extends the reach of business process automation throughout an enterprise and beyond, to include any email user, web user, or system, enabling people to receive, analyze, and respond to notifications needing their attention. Users can respond to a notification via any standard email system or standard Web browser.

 Workflow Components

Oracle Workflow Builder provides a graphical drag and drop process designer. You can create and evolve business processes to incorporate existing business practices between your organization and customers or suppliers, without modifying existing business processes and without changing applications code.

 The Workflow Engine, embedded in the Oracle database, implements process definitions at runtime. The Workflow Engine monitors workflow states and coordinates the routing of activities for a process. Changes in workflow state, such as the completion of workflow activities, are signaled to the engine via a PL/SQL or Java API.

 The Oracle Workflow Business Event System provides a workflow-enabled solution for your enterprise application integration requirements. The Business Event System is an application service delivered with Oracle Workflow that uses Oracle Advanced Queuing technology to communicate business events between systems. The Business Event System supports the following types of integration:

 • Message-based point-to-point system integration

• System integration messaging hubs

• Distributed applications messaging

 The Business Event System uses Oracle Advanced Queuing to propagate messages between communication points on systems, called agents, using a specified protocol. Events received from external systems are processed by an agent listener that runs on that agent’s queue.

 The Oracle Workflow Event Manager enables registration of significant business events for selected applications, including functions that generate the XML event messages. Users of those applications can register subscriptions on events that are significant to their systems, to take actions such as triggering custom code.

 Features and Usage

A completed application transaction or event can initiate a workflow process by raising a business event or by calling a series of Workflow Engine APIs. The Workflow Engine drives through the process, performing all automated steps and calling the Notification System to deliver notifications for steps that involve human intervention.

 You can review and respond to your business process notifications from one central window, known as the worklist, using a standard Web browser. This offers the flexibility to prioritize tasks and to define sort criteria, giving you the flexibility to organize your work the way you wish. For example, you can group notifications by type or subject, to avoid having to jump from one context to another. Alternatively, you can focus on time critical tasks first, sorting by priority or due date.  Oracle Workflow is fully integrated with the Oracle E-Business Suite, providing the ability to drill down to any Oracle E-Business Suite or associated URL to view or complete a transaction.

 When a business event occurs, the Workflow Event Manager executes any subscriptions registered on the event. For local events, the subscribing code can be executed synchronously, in the same database transaction as the code that raised the event, or asynchronously, deferring costly subscription processing to a later time, and thus allowing control to be returned more quickly to the calling application. Events can also be received asynchronously from external systems. Before producing the XML event message, the Event Manager minimizes processing by checking whether event information is required by subscriptions on the event.

 Additional Capabilities

The flexibility of the powerful Workflow Engine event activities enable you to model business events within workflow processes. Event activities can be used to model content-based routing, transformations, error handling, and so on. A workflow process can be started or processed by an inbound message, and can send an outbound message or raise an event to the Event Manager. XML function activities give you access to event content data within workflow processes. Workflow processes based on business events give the greatest flexibility when implementing an integration solution. However, the Business Event System can also run independently of the Workflow Engine, to enable point-to-point messaging to be utilized.

 You can perform complex transformations between different formats required for your business documents. Oracle Workflow allows you to apply a stylesheet to an XML event message. In addition, when queues are defined within the Business Event System, you specify the logic used to enqueue and dequeue messages. This logic, called a queue handler, can include transformations.