Wednesday, October 12, 2005

MS Windows Workflow

Michael posted this on Moscrosoft's beta workflow engine. Quite interesting I think. While I'm pretty sure I'm not quite technical enough and thus won't download the entire beta for trial, the MS write-up on MSDN didn't make me do backflips. I'll admit this is a good start though, and that it's hard to make me happy.
Windows Workflow Foundation will be used across many future Microsoft products including The Microsoft Office System, BizTalk Server and the Microsoft Dynamics Products (previously known as Microsoft Business Solutions products). Most applications can benefit from the asynchronous state management features of the workflow model, the rapid development features of the designer, the potential for end-user flexibility, and the increased visibility into run-time code execution.
First: Having a workflow engine that cuts through MS Office is a wonderful thing. No more turning on track changes and e-mailing things back and forth. However, I'm surprised that MS SQL Server is not listed here. If all we're talking about is the workflow of files rather than deep integration with stored data, then I think MS hasn't gone far enough.

Second: Notice that they use the term "asynchronous" for their workflow engine? I'm not sure how you write code in 2005 that uses an async transaction methodology.

The major difference between database workflow engines is they trigger off of data events. This could be someone saving data into a specific field (new hire event), data changing in an aoutomated fashion (increase life insurance rates on someone's birthday). Microsoft's workflow seems less data dependent and more of a management function.