Jon Flanders on Windows Workflow Foundation

Workflow is
the operational aspect of a work procedure and essentially almost every
application employs a workflow in one way or another. Microsoft BizTalk has
been providing the facility to implement multi-source data import, integration,
complex rules and business logic simply via a intuitive diagrammatic interface
inside the familiar Visual Studio.NET IDE for a long time. Now, to empower the
framework with a robust and feature rich orchestration engine and merge with the
power of .NET framework , Microsoft adds WF (Windows Workflow Foundation) to
the developer’s arsenal with .NET framework 3.0.

jonflanders-sangabrielvalley.net.jpg

These are
some of the topics addressed in the WF presentation on Wed Jan 17th by Jon Flanders, Microsoft
MVP on BizTalk, in the San Gabriel Valley .NET
Developers Group
meeting. As defined on netfx3, “Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) is
the programming model, engine and tools for quickly building workflow enabled
applications. WF radically enhances a developer’s ability to model and support
business processes.” Jon’s presentation consisted of two parts. First part was
focused on BizTalk in which he demonstrated in an easy and user friendly way
how to write a Hello World application in BizTalk. In the second part of
presentation Jon discussed the WF framework explaining how and where to use it
effectively. His talk was full of examples code samples, demos and real world
scenarios which made it quite interesting. Participants bombarded him with
questions (a good sign showing that people are paying attention) which Jon
answered with comprehensive explanation. His code sample can be downloaded from
here and the link to the live version of his work flow designer is as follows.


http://www.masteringbiztalk.com/atlasworkflowdesigner/



Jon was
also kind enough to provide us link to his workflow samples page - which has a
link to the code at the bottom.
http://www.masteringbiztalk.com/wiki/default.aspx/MyWiki/Workflow%20Samples.html

The
presentation was an excellent learning experience and from post-meeting
comments was very much liked by the SGV.NET members. We hope that Jon would
continue to come and speak to our user group in the future.

Windows
Workflow Foundation is not a new idea but it’s a much better implementation of
work flow orchestration to date. About four years ago in London I attended a presentation by Stephen
Mellor in which he described the idea of having executable UML and the
enterprise benefits behind it for instance ease of code maintenance, higher
visibility and faster prototyping. With WF, we have much more modular
architecture consisting of Activity Model, Workflow designer, workflow runtime
and rules engine, I like to call it “executable flow charts”. Like Jon
mentioned in his presentation, round tripping is one of the key features
supported in WF which has always been a problem in the past. Previously if your
model has changed or your code is modified, there was no synchronization and
document would quickly start getting out sync. With WF, your model reflects the
source code and vice versa.

The inside
scoop about project
Silver
was quite interesting which supports the integration of WF and WCF
bringing the best of both worlds together.

Reading
and Further References.

Jon Flanders is an industry-leading author and instructor of
in-depth developer training materials at Quicklearn. Jon is the author of
"Mastering Visual Studio .NET" from O'Reilly and "ASP
Internals" from Addison-Wesley and co-author of "Presenting Windows
Workflow Foundation" from Sams. Jon holds a Juris Doctor from Hamline University. He has been working with
.NET and ASP.NET since early betas and with BizTalk
2004 since its release in March of 2004.

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