Activity type usage
This is the process of configuring workflow activities. It occurs whenever you add an activity to a workflow in the Workflow Designer. To add an activity to a workflow, you drag the desired activity type from the toolbox onto the workflow process diagram. The toolbox, located on the left of the diagram, lists all the activity types defined in Active Roles, including the custom activity types. For each activity of a custom type the Workflow Designer provides a page for configuring the activity parameters specific to that activity type. Once the activity parameters have been configured, the workflow contains a fully functional activity of the selected custom type.
Active Roles provides a graphical user interface, complete with a programming interface, for creating and managing custom activity types. Using those interfaces, Active Roles workflows can be extended to meet the needs of a particular environment. Active Roles also has a deployment mechanism by which administrators put new types of workflow activity into operation.
Since workflow activity extension involves two interactions, Active Roles provides solutions in both areas. The Administration Service maintains activity type definitions, exposing activity types to its clients such as the Active Roles console or ADSI Provider. The console can be used to:
- Create a new custom activity type, either from scratch or by importing an activity type that was exported from another environment.
- Make changes to the definition of an existing custom activity type.
- Add an activity of a particular custom type to a workflow, making the necessary changes to the activity parameters provided for by the activity type definition.
Normally, an Active Roles expert develops a custom activity type in a separate environment, and then exports the activity type to an export file. An Active Roles administrator deploys the activity type in the production environment by importing the export file. After that, the Workflow Designer can be used to configure and apply activities of the new type.
Policy Type objects
The extensibility of workflow activity types builds upon Policy Type objects of the workflow activity category, each of which represent a single type of workflow activity. Policy Type objects are used within both the activity type deployment and activity type usage processes. The process of deploying a new activity type involves the creation of a Policy Type object. During the process of adding an activity of a custom type to a workflow, the activity type definition is retrieved from the respective Policy Type object.
Each Policy Type object of the workflow activity category holds the following data to define a single activity type:
- Display name. Identifies the activity type in the Workflow Designer. This name is displayed in the activities toolbox located on the left of the workflow process diagram.
- Description. A text describing the activity type. This text is used as a default description for every activity that is based on this Policy Type object.
- Reference to Script Module. Identifies the Script Module that will be used by the workflow activities of this type. When adding an activity of a custom type to a workflow, you effectively create an activity that runs a certain script function from the Script Module specified by the respective Policy Type object.
- Policy Type category. The Policy Type objects that define custom workflow activities fall in a separate policy type category named “workflow activity.”
- Workflow category. Determines whether the custom activity can be used in change workflows only, automation workflows only, or both change and automation workflows.
- Function to run. Identifies the script function that is run by the workflow activities of this type. The function must exist in the Script Module selected for the policy type.
- Function to declare parameters. Identifies the script function that declares the parameters for the workflow activities of this type. The function must exist in the Script Module selected for the policy type. By default, it is assumed that the parameters are declared by the function named onInit.
- Policy Type icon. The image that appears next to the display name of the activity type in the Workflow Designer, to help identify and visually distinguish this activity type from the other types of workflow activity.
To create a custom activity type, first create a Script Module that holds the script function that will be run by the workflow activities of that type. Then, you can create a Policy Type object referring to that Script Module. When you import an activity type, Active Roles automatically creates both the Script Module and the Policy Type object for that activity type. After the Policy Type object has been created, you can add an activity of the new type to a workflow.
Creating and managing custom activity types
In Active Roles, Policy Type objects provide the ability to store the definition of a custom activity type in a single object. Policy Type objects can be exported and imported, which makes it easy to distribute custom workflow activities to other environments.
In the Workflow Designer, an administrator is presented with a list of activity types derived from the Policy Type objects. Selecting a custom activity type from the list causes Active Roles to create a workflow activity based on the settings found in the respective Policy Type object.
This section covers the following tasks specific to custom activity types:
For more information about Policy Type objects, including instructions on scripting for Policy Type objects, refer to the Active Roles SDK documentation.
Creating a Policy Type object
Active Roles stores Policy Type objects in the Policy Types container. You can access that container in the Active Roles console by expanding the Configuration/Server Configuration branch of the console tree.
To create a new Policy Type object
- In the console tree, under Configuration/Server Configuration/Policy Types, right-click the Policy Type container in which you want to create a new object, and select New | Policy Type.
For example, if you want to create a new object in the root container, right-click Policy Types.
- In the New Object - Policy Type wizard, type a name, a display name and, optionally, a description for the new object.
The display name identifies the activity type in the Workflow Designer. The description text is used as a default description for every activity that is based on this Policy Type object.
- Click Next.
- Click Browse and select the Script Module containing the script that will be used by the workflow activities of this type.
The Script Module must exist under the Configuration/Script Modules container.
- In the Policy Type category area, select the Workflow activity option.
- From the Function to run list, select the name of the script function that will be run by the workflow activities of this type.
The list contains the names of all the functions found in the script you selected in Step 4. Every activity of this type will run the function you select from the Function to run list.
- From the Use in list, select the appropriate option to indicate the category of the workflow in which the activity of this type can be used:
- Change workflow. The activity can be used only in change workflows, that is, workflows intended to run upon operation requests that meet certain conditions.
- Automation workflow. The activity can be used only in automation workflows, that is, workflows intended to run on a scheduled basis or on user demand.
- Any workflow. The activity can be used in both change and automation workflows.
- From the Function to declare parameters list, select the name of the script function that defines the parameters specific to this type of workflow activity.
The list contains the names of all the functions found in the script you selected in Step 4. Every activity of this type will have the parameters that are specified by the function you select from the Function to declare parameters list. Normally, this is a function named onInit (see Active Roles SDK for details).
- Click Policy Type Icon to verify the image that denotes this type of activity. To choose a different image, click Change and open an icon file containing the image you want.
This image appears next to the display name of the activity type in the Workflow Designer, to help identify and visually distinguish this activity type from the other activity types.
The image is stored in the Policy Type object. In the dialog box that appears when you click Policy Type Icon, you can view the image that is currently used. To revert to the default image, click Use Default Icon. If the button is unavailable, then the default image is currently used.
- Click Next and follow the steps in the wizard to complete the creation of the new Policy Type object.