Overview of K2.net Enterprise Human Workflow Tools
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Published: 11 May 2006
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Abstract
In this article, Grant examines how to work with K2.net 2003 enterprise human workflow application for the Microsoft .NET platform.
by Grant Zhang
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Workflow and Workflow Management System

The Workflow Management Coalition (http://www.wfmc.org) defines workflow as the automation of a business process, in whole or part, during which documents, information or tasks are passed from one participant to another for action, according to a set of procedural rules.

Workflow itself is the process that is automated.  A work item or data set is created then is processed and changed in stages at a number of processing points to meet business goals.  Most workflow engines can now handle very complex series of processes.  Workflow normally comprises a number of logical steps, each of which is known as an activity.  An activity can involve manual interaction with a user or workflow participant, or the activity might be executed using machine resources.  Delivering work to users does increase efficiency.

A workflow management system defines, creates and manages the execution of workflows through the use of software.  It can interpret the process definition, interact with workflow participants and, where required, invoke the use of IT tools and applications.

K2 Workflow Examples

We need to understand what the workflow is before we understand what K2.net workflow system can do.  Instead of jumping into the tools and features of the K2.net directly, I would like to give a few workflow examples first.  The examples here are fairly simple and straightforward.  Some more complicated workflows include things such as creating and assigning tasks or open issues in SharePoint.

Example 1

·         A user accesses the purchase request web-form to request a new wireless mouse.  One of the fields on the form is the "category."  The category field is a drop-down field with options like software, hardware, publications and services.  The user selects hardware as the category. Once all the fields are filled in, he submits the form.

·         After the form is submitted, the K2.net 2003 server evaluates the category field.  If the field is either Hardware or Software, the Purchase Request is directed to the IT Department.  If it is one of the other categories, it will go straight to the user’s manager for approval.  In our wireless mouse example the request goes to the IT Department.

·         The IT Department receives the request.  They need to verify whether the requested item is available as stock within the company.  The responsible IT person will access his Work list (in the K2.net 2003 Workspace or smart form) and indicate if the item is available in-house or not.  If it is available, the workflow will be redirected to the hardware warehouse keeper; he can deliver the item to the requester and indicate by web form that item has been delivered.  This completes the process. However, if it is not available then the workflow will be redirected to the user’s manager; he may be notified by email and then he can access the purchase request on his work list.  The manager is also presented with a web-form that gives him the opportunity to either accept or reject the purchase request.  If he decides to reject the purchase request, he has the ability to enter a reject reason on the web form.  The reject reason will be included in the notification e-mail that is sent to the user that requested the purchase.  If the manager accepts the purchase request, the user will receive a notification e-mail informing him that the purchase request was accepted.

·         If the manager declines the purchase request then user will be notified, thus the process is complete.  If the manager approves the purchase request, the user will be notified and at the same time a work item will be assigned to the hardware purchase person.  After he purchases the item he can indicate his work has been finished.  The hardware distributor will have the work item.  After he finishes his work item, the process is completed.

The benefit of using workflow as the business solution is that once a request is initiated the work item will automatically be routed.  Meaning, everyone involved has to finish his work item before the process can move on then everyone's work is recorded automatically in the process and (optionally) can be recorded in other databases.

Note a WebForm (SmartForm) is used to initiate the K2 workflow.  Similarly an InfoPath form can be used here to initiate a process.  After the user fills up the form, he can submit the form and it will create a new K2 process.  It will do the same thing as in the above example.

The powerful drag and drop workflow design environment is shown as follows and the code behind can be C# or Visual Basic .NET. and looks like they are in Visual Studio .NET.

Figure 1

 

 

 

Example 2

A K2 workflow has been set up to monitor a SharePoint document library.  The insert and update events of this document library have been chosen to initiate the workflow process.  If a user uploads a vacation request form to the SharePoint library, a process will be initiated and a work item will be sent to manager for approval.  If a user uploads a training request form, the same thing happens and a work item will be sent to both the manager and HR training coordinator.  For the vacation request, the manager receives an e-mail that has been generated automatically by the K2 workflow.  He can simply click the link in the e-mail and a SharePoint site is opened.  He can view the request document and then either approve or reject the request.

Here K2 can use SharePoint event to initiate a new process without any programming required.


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Title: Overview of K2.net Enterprise Human Workflow Tools   
Name: soham
Date: 2010-04-07 4:07:27 PM
Comment:
Hi Dear,

Ur at article icle is an awesome one. It describes in such a nice manner.

Thanks for clearing doubts.
Title: good artical   
Name: reddy
Date: 2009-01-04 8:38:39 PM
Comment:
nice one about workflows
Title: Download   
Name: Mahendiran
Date: 2008-09-26 1:57:03 AM
Comment:
Hi eveyone,

Free download is (k2.net 2003) Avaliable .
pls tell me the link....
Title: Workflow Options   
Name: Peter Samosa
Date: 2008-09-17 9:16:31 PM
Comment:
Hi,
good article on workflow but would recommend looking at Skelta BPM.NET. This product is great both as a stand alone or integrated with sharepoint

Regards
Peter
Title: K2 blackpearl   
Name: Grant Zhang
Date: 2008-07-24 11:08:32 AM
Comment:
K2 blackpearl is the latest version and it is built on the Microsoft Windows Workflow Foundation. If you start a new project now, I would definitely recommend K2 blackpearl.

Thank you for your compliment.
Grant
Title: Good Article!!   
Name: Venkata
Date: 2008-07-24 3:22:09 AM
Comment:
Hi i read this article! Very nice i am very with this information. now in the market k2.net 2003 is the latest?

Thanks!!
Venkata
Title: log changes   
Name: Grant Zhang
Date: 2008-06-25 11:59:53 AM
Comment:
Kitty, Sorry I did not have experience on this.
Title: log changes   
Name: kitty
Date: 2008-06-25 2:38:42 AM
Comment:
hello is there any tool that allows you to determine "log changes" that have been made? if yes, can you tell how.
if no, is there any tool that might help?

Thanks
Title: Excellent!!!   
Name: Santosh
Date: 2008-01-23 3:46:56 PM
Comment:
The overview is really great!! After reading this I increased my confidence that I can start working on it!!
Title: helping Rick   
Name: Josh
Date: 2007-08-20 8:23:31 PM
Comment:
Hi Rick,

I am sorry to hear about your troubles. Sounds brutal and perhaps unnecessary. We'd love to help. Feel free to write me personally at josh@k2.com (yeah, putting the e-mail out there but worth it) and we'll get you squared away. Alternatively give us a call on the support line or post the issues to K2underground.com.

Josh
Title: k2 frustrations   
Name: rick
Date: 2007-07-30 11:46:34 PM
Comment:
i'm currently using k2 2003 and made a number of unpleasant discoveries. here's a number of em.

-k2 studio crashes for no good reason (3 developers that i work with have attested to this)
-replace all doesn't work (i think the dialog is only there to torture developers who have put a lot of work into coding inside k2 hehe)
-you can't effectively use code modules because intellisense isn't consistent i.e. i have to remember my namespace name, class name, method name in order to fully utilize my code modules
-can't use ClientEventContext, ServerEventContext types because KO.dll isn't a managed DLL so i'm left with entering K2.ProcessInstance.DataFields["sh*tfield"] everytime i need to access a Process or an Activity field

to be fair, we haven't applied any service pack coz our manager thinks we don't need to. such a shame.

they have an upcoming version but our department isn't interested in it. i hope we switch to microsoft workflow foundation or a much better workflow software soon. in the meantime i'll have a daily serving of k2 crap.
Title: Good synopsis   
Name: Michelle Beall
Date: 2007-06-26 8:22:19 PM
Comment:
Hey Grant - nice overview of K2.NET! It's by far the best human workflow tool out there.
Title: Software Test Analyst   
Name: Grant Zhang
Date: 2006-08-21 12:45:08 PM
Comment:
Ekola, I am not sure what do you mean. Please give me the detail.
Title: Software Test Analyst   
Name: Ekola Leonnie Mubeya
Date: 2006-08-21 5:11:43 AM
Comment:
How can apply these: Windows smart forms, Sharepoint and K2.net in software testing? Please help
Title: source code Examples in C# or VB   
Name: Kumar Muni
Date: 2006-05-25 8:05:37 PM
Comment:
Please give some source code examples about the e business project.

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