Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Components of WF

So what exactly is WF, what are its components?

WF: Stands for Windows Workflow Foundation.
  • It is the foundation or framework for allowing all microsoft products and applications to talk / communicate with each other for establishing workflows and rules.

Features of WF:

  • It provides us with a graphical representation of business processes. (So now we can show it in a way that even non-technical business users can understand or modify the workflow),
  • It allows easy tracking of work flow, it basically removes the overhead involved in tracking the work flow process.
  • It provides flexibility for people to skip or override steps. (example - If person A is absent delegate document approval to person B)

What are Workflows:

  • Work flows are a set of activities,
  • Work flows run within a host process or any application or a server,
  • Developers can build their own custom activity libraries.

Components of a Workflow Foundation:

  • Base Activity Library (25 such activities are provided out of the shelf in 3.0)
  • Runtime Engine
  • Runtime Services
  • Visual Designer

What is special about WF?

Ok you are a dot net developer or someone who is trying to start learning dot net, so you look at 1.0 framework, 1.1 framework, then 2.0 framework, now comes 3.0

Wait gimme a break what do i learn, why are they so many versions. The answer to all this is here in this blog.

There is a misunderstanding that 3.0 framework is not a replacement for 2.0 framework.

The 3.0 framework runs on the same CLR which 2.0 is placed in, we still use dot net 2005 IDE for running 3.0 applications, so the best place to start would be to download and install dot net 2005 IDE and on top of it install the 3.0 framework.

Again dot net is side by side assembly so you should be able to install and run every framework.

Windows Workflow Foundation:

Today i had been to Microsoft Waltham Office to attend one of the Architect sessions for dot net 3.0 and i learnt a lot of useful information which i am sharing here.

1) Dot net remoting is no longer needed once we go in for Windows Workflow foundation,
2) Biz talk server and WWF are two different approaches to achieve the same solution.
3) Biz talk will still be supported by Microsoft but internally the next release of biz talk and the future biz talk engine will be recoded to run on WF, (so guys a good place to start now would be to start looking at WF).
4) Microsoft is releasing an entire set of products based on WF, they are,

a) MS office 12 or ms office 2007 is entirely based on CLR and also it uses WF,
b) MS Speech Server,
c) Dynamics,
d) Biz talk future release
e) MIIS - Identity solution
f) Service Desk application
g) share point 2007

All the above applications which need workflows, rules are going to use Windows Workflow Foundation, and microsoft is very keen on moving in this direction.

So it is better to use WF or to learn WF right now.

Starting point or official website


Is the starting point for any developer to learn about dot net framework 3.0