A workflow (or flow diagram) is a high-level graphical representation of an IT or business process, which might involve processing on multiple servers across the network. It provides users an easy way to orchestrate and describe complex processing of data in a visual form, much like flow charts but without the need to understand programming. The Workflow Designer is the actual canvas for designing and creating automated business processes. It contains all the tools (i.e. initiation, execution, error-handling, conditional logic, notification, sub-routines, etc.) needed to automate complex IT and business processes. Such objects are dragged-and-dropped using a highly visual, intuitive interface that even non-technical users can employ.
The main elements of a workflow consists of objects such as events, conditions, tasks, and flow control items. Events are essentially one-time occurrences, such as when a specific date/time arises. Therefore, events can be used to trigger the start of a workflow. Conditions are network or system events that can be used to trigger the start of a workflow (i.e. Start Task A contained in Workflow B when File C exists) or provide the basis for conditional event-based decision-making (i.e. If File A Exists, Run Task B, if not, run Task C instead). Tasks are involved in the instructions for executing a series of processes. Tasks are created with another AutoMate drag-and-drop development tool called the Task Builder.
*Click an area of the image below to view more details.
The WFD contains four main areas as illustrated above. Below is a brief description regarding each section and links to their associated topics.
The Ribbons/Toolbar section contains standard Microsoft Vista™ operating system-like menus which allow you to save, run and update workflows as well as modify the design and behavior of the WFD, and a variety of other options.
The Available Objects Pane displays the building blocks used to create a workflow. These objects allow you to create Tasks, Events, Conditions and Sub-workflows as well as Flow Controls to link objects and add conditional logic. The available objects can be easily dragged into the workflow canvas.
The Workspace is the blank canvas where you construct workflows. Simply drag and drop items from the Available Objects pane on to the Workspace to build a workflow.
The Output/Shared Objects Pane contains four tabs. The Output tab displays real-time status of a workflow during its execution. The Shared Variables, Shared Arrays and Shared Datasets tabs provide the ability to share variables, arrays, and datasets throughout an entire workflow. This allows variables or arrays which were created in a particular task to be shared in other tasks contained in the workflow. For more information about the use of shared variables, datasets and arrays, see About Shared Variables, About Shared Datasets, About Shared Arrays.
The Repository button provides easy access to the Repository of previously created tasks, conditions workflows. The Repository is the storage area of all workflows and workflow-related objects such as tasks, conditions, and events. Each time you create a new workflow, task, process or condition, it is automatically stored in the Repository. This allows you to reuse such objects in other workflows. See Repository for more details.
About Creating Workflows
Building a Workflow
Workflow Logic Explained