Thursday, September 26, 2013

ITIM Best Practices For Workflow Design

It sounds rather arrogant to call this blog entry "Best Practices" when it is merely my meandering thoughts that I'm about to spew forth. But a number of experiences of other people's work recently has almost moved me to tears.

So here is my list of "best practices".

Workflow Start Nodes

The Start Node (and the End Node for that matter) is not somewhere that code should be placed. Code can be placed in these nodes, of course. But it shouldn't ever be placed in here. For example, how could I know that the following Workflow has been customised:

If you have code that needs to be run as soon as the workflow starts, place a Script Node immediately after the Start Node and name it appropriately. This is MUCH better:

Script Node Size

If I open a Script Node and find that there are 1,000 lines of code in there, I will cry. If you have 1,000 lines of code you are probably doing something wrong. I would much rather see multiple Script Nodes with a sensible name describing their function laid out in an organised manner that gives me a good visual representation of the process rather than having to wade through hundreds or thousands of lines of code.

Workflow Extensions

If you have written some Javascript that looks cool and funky and re-usable, then make it cool and funky and re-usable by creating a Workflow Extension. Also, feel free to give extensions back to the community! (I shall publish some of my favourites soon!)


If I see a hardcoded erglobalid reference in a Script Node, I will, in all possibility, hunt the developer down and do very un-Tivolian things to him or her. Their assumption that their code will work when promoted through various environments is very flawed and they are being lazy. Do Not Hardcode!

Commenting & Logging
You might think your code is readable, but the chances are that it could still do with some comments here and there. Even if the code is understandable, the reasoning behind performing the function may not be so clear and requirements documents and design documents have a habit of disappearing!

When it comes to logging, log appropriately and update the status of the workflow throughout the workflow process. The following statements are great to see in Script Nodes because we can successfully handle any problems and ensure that we always navigate our way to the End Node.

activity.setResult(activity.SUCCESS, "Attributes Successfully Verified");
activity.setResult(activity.FAILED, "Attribute Verification Failed due to " + errMsg);

And Finally

The chances are that someone will come along after you have done all your hard work and they will look at your workflow. Do you want them to cry? Or do you want them to be delighted in what they have seen? Make sure you delight people!

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