Repository Management

by Marjo Martinez, in Tech Talk, posted 10/27/08

AutoMate BPA Server 7 is comprised of three major elements: the Server, Agent and Development clients. The Server is the center of communication between connected Agents and the Development clients. It is also the "repository" of all information and objects concerning the creation, modification, management, organization and execution of each and every automated process.

Objects created in AutoMate BPA Server 7, such as workflows, tasks, events and conditions are automatically stored in the Repository for reuse. The Repository provides a centralized location in which to conveniently store newly created objects as well as access pre-existing objects. Storing objects in the Repository does away with tedious procedures such as re-creating tasks or conditions each time a new workflow is created. With this concept, one task can be utilized in many workflows, so it only needs to be created once.

These re-usable objects can easily be administered, modified and quickly incorporated into new or existing workflows. Should a change need to be made to a task, event or condition that is used by several workflows, the changes will be applied globally to all the workflows that use it. For example, a Schedule event is used to start 15 different workflows every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m. If the schedule needed to be altered to Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, the change could be made to a single Schedule event in the repository. Changes will immediately reflect all workflows which use this Schedule event.

Figure 1-1 SMC Repository View

Accessing Repository Objects

The Repository is accessible from the Server Management Console (SMC) by clicking the Repository tab in the lower part of the left window pane as shown in Figure 1-1. The Repository appears in the main window and conditions and tasks are separated into folders in the upper part of the left window pane. Clicking the Conditions or Tasks folder (also shown in Figure 1-1) will populate the contained objects in the main Repository window.  Additionally, completed workflows are stored in the Repository as well and can be accessed by selecting the SMC’s Workflows tab as shown in Figure 1-2.

Figure 1-2 SMC Workflows Repository View

Various operations can be performed within the Repository. For instance, to run a task, select the Tasks folder to populate pre-existing tasks in the main view, highlight the desired task and click the Run button. To edit an existing task, highlight the desired task and click the Edit button or right-click the task and select Edit from the right-click menu. An object can be permanently deleted from the Repository by highlighting the desired object and clicking the Delete button or right-clicking the object and selecting the Delete option from the right-click menu.

Multiple folders can be created to aid with the organization of tasks, events and conditions. To add a new folder to the current view, click the Create Folder button. A new folder will appear in the main window. To add objects to the new folder, simply drag them into the folder or right-click an object and select Cut or Copy from the right-click menu, then right-click the folder and select Paste. To view items that reside in separate folders, simply double-click the desired folder or right-click the folder and select Open from the right-click menu that appears. Additionally, clicking the More button or right-clicking an object will present other available options, such as Export, Import, Rename, Disable or Enable (to name a few).

The main Repository window can be viewed in a variety of formats. To toggle from Tiled, List, Icon and Grid view, click the View button. Items can also be grouped in various manners, for instance, by  Name, Type, Created by or Created on. To toggle the various group options, click the Group button.

The Grid view illustrated in Figure 1-3 is quite useful because it supplies a comprehensive description of each repository item, including Object Name, Type, Created By, Created On, Modified On, Completion State, Version and Notes. Any column can be grouped in ascending or descending order by dragging the desired column to the parameter labeled Drag a column header here to group by that column (shown in Figure 1-3, circled in red). Additionally, right-clicking any column header presents a right-click menu which provides various other sorting options (also shown in Figure 1-3).

 
Figure 1-3 Grid View of the Repository’s Tasks Folder.

Repository objects are also accessible via the Workflow Designer (WFD) allowing existing tasks and conditions to be added to a new workflow. From the Workflow Designer, click the Repository button (located in the bottom left part of the WFD window). Doing so will display a window titled Repository.

From the Repository window, expand the folder that corresponds to the desired object to view its contents. This can be done by double-clicking the folder or clicking the ‘+’ sign next to the folder. If the desired object is a task, expand the Tasks folder. If it’s an event or condition, expand the Conditions folder. Drag the specified object to the workflow canvas. Instructions are illustrated in Figure 1-4.


Figure 1-4 Accessing Repository Objects from WFD

General Object Properties

Various task event or "condition-related" properties and settings are obtainable from the Repository. To view an object’s properties, highlight the desired object and click the Properties button or right-click the object and select Properties from the right-click menu. The main Repository window will transform to the properties view as shown in Figure 1-5. Incidentally, clicking the Forward button or the Back button can be used to navigate to and from an object’s properties and the main Repository view.

 
Figure 1-5 Illustration of Task Properties

All repository objects contain general properties which are comprised of Details and Notes. The Details properties (shown in Figure 1-6) displays various attributes of the specified object, such as Object Name, Creation, Modification and Version Date, Created By and Stage, parameters which specifies the stage settings of the selected object. The available options are:

  • In Development
  • Testing
  • Production
  • Archive

The checkbox labeled Globally Enabled, when checked, specifies that the current object is enabled to all workflows in the system. If the parameter is unchecked, the object is available only to the current workflow.

 
Figure 1-6 Details Properties

The Notes option (shown in Figure 1-7) is a dedicated section in which to enter custom data regarding the object. This data appears in the Notes column when viewing Repository items in Grid view. They also appear in the Repository Table report in the SMC’s Reports section.

 
Figure 1-7 Notes Properties


Storing Objects in the Repository


Each time a task or condition is created and named from the WFD, it is stored in either the Tasks or Conditions folder of the Repository. To add an object from the WFD, drag-and-drop the task, event or condition icon from the Available Objects pane (left side of WFD window) to the workflow canvas (right window pane) as illustrated in Figure 1-8.
A new task or condition then appears in the work area. The task or condition appears as grayed out and named unbuilt condition or unbuilt task until it is either named or edited. Unbuilt objects are not stored in the Repository. Click the newly added task or condition to rename it and select an Agent in which it should execute from. After doing so, it will no longer be grayed out and will officially be stored in the Repository.

Figure 1-8 Storing Objects in the Repository from WFD

One may prefer the option to create standalone tasks or conditions (not incorporated into a workflow) and later add them to a workflow. For this reason, tasks, events and conditions can be created and edited directly from the Repository section of the SMC rather than having to perform such procedures from the Workflow Designer. To add a new objects to the Repository from the SMC, select the Repository tab click the folder (i.e. Tasks or Conditions folder) corresponding to the object that will be created and added to the Repository.

To add a new task to the Repository, select the Tasks folder and click the New button. A new task named New Task or New Task (1) (if a task named New Task already exists) will appear in the main window. Simply click the current task name to rename the task or right-click and select Rename from the right-click menu. Highlight the newly created task and click the Edit button or right-click and select Edit from the right-click menu to edit the steps of the task. Renaming or editing the task will automatically add it to the Repository.

If adding a new event or condition from the Repository, select the Conditions folder and click the New button. This presents a window titled Conditions in which to select the event or condition to create as shown in Figure 1-9. To rename the new object, right-click it and select Rename from the pop-up menu. Highlight the newly created event or condition and click the Edit button or right-click and select Edit from the right-click menu to edit its properties. Renaming or editing the newly created condition or event will automatically add it to the Repository.


Figure 1-9 Conditions Window

Conclusion

The Repository automatically stores new workflows, tasks, events and conditions upon creation, allowing objects to be recycled, thus eliminating time consuming task, condition or event re-creation. Any modifications made to a particular object are applied globally to all the workflows that use it, further streamlining operations. The Repository is centrally located on the server and pre-existing objects can be conveniently accessed or modified via the SMC or WFD, greatly improving accessibility, management and control. The BPA Repository is an essential ingredient in the overall scheme of streamlining, optimizing and automating business processes and procedures across an enterprise.