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Re: [xml-dev] XML design for workflow management?


You talk about "workflow management data vice content data" and  
present two approaches as if it's a given that these are two kinds of  
data that (a) are easily separable and (b) need to be separated.   
Could you amplify on your example to explain this?  Personally, I'd  
wonder about doing this separation, because it means your document  
design reflects the requirements of a single workflow.   Suppose there  
are multiple workflows that would process the claim at various times?   
How would you do the separation then?  Or suppose the workflow(s)  
change(s) so as to require different routing data?   How many  
different documents do you want to have to change?  Also, you seem to  
assume that the workflow software only needs to access the workflow  
data, and the "tasks" only need to deal with "content" data.  But I  
can easily imagine a "task", not just the workflow software, wanting  
to look at, for example, location data.  What happens to your  
scenarios if something like that is required?


On Apr 11, 2009, at 5:06 PM, Costello, Roger L. wrote:

> Hi Folks,
> Consider an insurance claim for an auto accident. It contains  
> information about a claim, including:
>   - date of the accident
>   - damage to the car
>   - police report
> The claim is routed - as defined by some workflow process - to  
> appropriate people and applications for processing. Which people and  
> applications receive the claim depend on certain values of the claim.
> For example, if the estimated amount to be paid on the claim is less  
> than a certain amount, a settlement offer is made to the client. If  
> the estimated amount is greater, then an assessor is assigned to  
> investigate the claim, and which office is assigned depends on the  
> location of the client. Thus, these are two of the values used to  
> manage the claim:
>    - "estimated claim value" is used to determine
>      whether the claim should be routed to the "offer
>      settlement" task or the "send assessor" task
>    - "client location" is used to determine what
>      resources (i.e. which field office) should be
>      used by the "send assessor" task
> "estimated claim value" and "client location" are values used for  
> workflow management. A workflow management system can use these  
> values to route the claim and assign resources to tasks.
> How do you deal with workflow management data vice content data?  
> More generally, how do you design XML documents that enable workflow  
> management?
> I can think of two approaches:
> 1. Header/Payload Approach (i.e. the SOAP approach)
> Store the workflow management values in a header section and the  
> content in the body section. This approach requires the workflow  
> management system to have the smarts to fetch the workflow data from  
> the header section. The tasks must have the smarts to fetch the  
> contents from the body section. For example:
> <soap:Envelope xmlns:soap="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/";>
>    <soap:Header>
>        <workflow-data xmlns="http://www.auto-insurance.com";>
>            <estimated-claim-value>$200</estimated-claim-value>
>            <client-location>Denver, Colorado</client-location>
>        </workflow-data>
>    </soap:Header>
>    <soap:Body>
>        <claim  xmlns="http://www.auto-insurance.com";>
>            <ID>49303203-AAD</ID>
>            <type>auto</type>
>            <date-of-accident>April 9, 2009</date-of-accident>
>            <date-of-filing>April 11, 2009</date-of-filing>
>            <description>
>              Car failed to stop at stop sign and broadsided
>              the car.
>            </description>
>            ...
>        </claim>
>    </soap:Body>
> </soap:Envelope>
> 2. Separate Workflow and Content Documents
> The workflow data is placed in one document and the content data is  
> placed in a separate document. The two documents are connected via  
> links. The workflow management system deals just with the workflow  
> document. The tasks deal just with the content document. For example:
> -----------------------------------------------
> Workflow Document (workflow-49303203-AAD.xml)
> -----------------------------------------------
>    <Workflow-Data href="claim-49303203-AAD.xml">
>        <estimated-claim-value>$200</estimated-claim-value>
>        <client-location>Denver, CO</client-location>
>    </Workflow-Data>
> -----------------------------------------------
> Claim Document (claim-49303203-AAD.xml)
> -----------------------------------------------
>    <claim xmlns="http://www.auto-insurance.com";
>           href="workflow-49303203-AAD.xml">
>        <ID>49303203-AAD</ID>
>        <type>auto</type>
>        <date-of-accident>April 9, 2009</date-of-accident>
>        <date-of-filing>April 11, 2009</date-of-filing>
>        <description>
>          Car failed to stop at stop sign and broadsided
>          the car.
>        </description>
>        ...
>    </claim>
> 1. Are there other approaches than the two listed above?
> 2. What approach do you recommend?
> /Roger

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