# Thursday, 18 August 2005
In case you need to get up to speed on SharePoint Products and Technologies.
A typical usage of SharePoint is to use its form or document libraries as steps in a workflow process, like an approval process for example, for any form or document. Each work flow step = one document library.  If I had a workflow that contained 10 steps, I will have 10 document or forms libraries.
Jan Tielen has built an excellent workflow engine, called, Workflow Lite for SharePoint that uses an XML configuration file to describe the number of workflow steps, plus other elements such as properties and actions.  Properties reference document library columns, in which you customize and actions describe, well, actions like copy this document from one workflow step (i.e. document or form library) to another.
The idea is that you install Jans workflow engine, which is a .NET assembly that hooks into SharePoints document library event handler (a service point).  Once installed, the assembly reads the (XML) configuration file which contains all of the named workflow steps, properties and actions.
Here comes the software factory bit, which can be on demand.  The XML configuration file can be viewed as one part of a software factory schema in which we can build a user interface to filling out the schema with workflow steps along with properties and actions.  Another XML configuration file, (actually a SharePoint site template) can be used to specify the overall look, feel and some functionality (i.e. document library columns) of the overall SharePoint site, in which the workflow executes inside of.  You know, your company name goes here, upload your logo, URL naming conventions, etc.  We can also build a user interface to this part of the software factory schema.  Both XML documents represent the entire SharePoint workflow application, not only from a design point of view, but also used by the software factory template and at run-time.
In fact, I could set up an on-line web site with these two user interfaces and have anyone come to the site, fill out the forms that describe the SharePoint site definition and workflow schemas.  You could then press order, in which I will get your instance of a software factory schema. I can then use this customized factory schema in my software factory template, and with some Visual Studio scripting, I can check out Jans Workflow Lite from my source code control system, along with a SharePoint site generator, which will take the site definitions values from your order and build out a SharePoint site along (including the library columns) with the workflow, etc.  In fact, since I already know the steps in the workflow process, I can even write an automated test script to test out and certify.
I can then (automatically) back the site up and package the whole thing as an MSI (installer) file (from Visual Studio) and send it to you, an hour later after you ordered it. Running the installer deploys the solution to your environment, performs a self-test of the workflow steps and voila!  Hows that for an on-demand software factory?  Need changes? Go back to the web site, make them using your original specification files and re-order.  Just like that.  Sounds like an on-demand software product line for workflow applications in SharePoint.
Thursday, 18 August 2005 04:06:06 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Comments [0]
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© Copyright 2008 Mitch Barnett - Software Industrialization is the computerization of software design and function.

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