Welcome back SDL Tridion Workflow

Over the last two weeks, I have had the privilege of spending a lot of time with some of the R&D folks at SDL who are working on the forth coming releases of their world beating WCM platform SDL Tridion. At both SDL Innovate 2012 and SDL Tridion HQ in Amsterdam this week, there has been a lot of talk about “bundles”. Now I can’t really tell you anything about bundles per se (because I really don’t know the details), but from what I hear “it will be the revolution of SDL Tridion Workflow” which has been the thorn in many a consultant and customer’s side since R4. The biggest feature of the new workflow offering will be grouping items together into “Bundles”, allowing you to process complete work packages through a workflow process instead of just a single Page or Component.

Now given the sparkle I have seen in people’s eyes whenever they say “Bundles…”, I am pretty confident that something great is coming in the next major release, and I thought it might be time resurrect the workflow debate in the community – if we get vocal about these things now, we may see some of our dreams sneaking in with the bundles.

This post is my thought on SDL Tridion Workflow and how to use security groups in a BluePrint Context. I plan to post future articles along the lines of “Why we switched off workflow in Tridion” and “Why can’t Tridion notify me when I have something to review”. Watch for those in the coming weeks.

Workflow Groups and SDL Tridion BluePrinting

There was a time… many years ago when a Workflow Process Definition (WPD) created in MS Visio was not BluePrint-able, but fortunately those days are long gone. Nowadays WPDs can be localized much like any item in the Content Manager.

Experienced implementers of SDL Tridion will understand both the pros and cons of localization, whilst it is an extremely valuable tool, it can lead to maintenance nightmares if you are not careful. This is just as true of a statement when it comes to WPDs as Components, Folders or Pages etc.

The fact that a WPD can be localized is very useful when there are business flows in local markets which follow different patterns to those in the corporate divisions in where shared content is typically created. However, localizing WPDs comes with the burden that when making changes at a high level in a BluePrint, they are not reflected in the child publications. Although arguably this is a better solution than having to localize the Schemas in order to apply locally created  WPDs (which was the only solution in the past).

More often than not, the biggest reason I see for localizing a WPD, is to change the User Group that each activity is assigned to.

I.e. In a corporate workflow the “Review Content” activity is assigned to “Corporate Reviewers”. The same activity is then assigned to “Italian Editor” or “German Editor” in the Italian and German child publications respectively.

An alternative to this localization lies in understanding a bit more about SDL Tridion security model. Over the years I have developed a practice of creating workflow specific groups/roles that are only used by workflow designers when they are creating WPDs in MS Visio.

The concept behind the idea is that you create User Groups like “Workflow Author”, “Workflow Editor”, “Workflow Translator” and “Workflow Publisher”. These groups are assigned to tasks in the MS Visio Workflow Designer.

Once the WPD is saved, it is then possible to modify the existing security based User and Groups by making them members of these “workflow groups”. The great benefit of this is that you can change who each step of the workflow gets assigned for each publication by modifying the security model, rather than needing to localize and rewrite the WPDs. The strength of such an approach will become even clearer when I share my thoughts on notification, but until then please share your thoughts. How have you worked with User Groups and BluePrinting when implementing workflows in SDL Tridion? What other things bother you about the current workflow offering from SDL Tridion?

This entry was posted in Development and templating, Helpful Tridion tips, Security, Tridion news and tagged , by Chris Summers. Bookmark the permalink.

About Chris Summers

Chris has spent his career creating and developing technology for website operation and management. With a background in engineering and design, for the past 12 years, Chris has focused on implementing SDL Tridion products, working with companies and their technical staff to ensure an in-depth understanding of the software and complete successful, on-going implementations. Chris has worked with more than 60 of the largest and most expansive SDL Tridion implementations in the world, from launching custom integrations, offering technical training and mentoring consultants through to certification. When he’s not talking or thinking about websites, Chris is an avid chef, an amateur carpenter and a flying trapeze enthusiast. A fan of travel and adventure, he’s a citizen of the world who currently makes his home in Boston, USA.

9 thoughts on “Welcome back SDL Tridion Workflow

  1. Pingback: Welcome back SDL Tridion Workflow | Tridion Developer | effort.ly

  2. Hi Chris,
    Great post! You mention that instead of localizing a schema it’s better to localize the WPD. I just want to point out to the readers that there is an inherent assumption here: the WPD is created in the same or higher (parent) Blueprint level as the schemas. If the WPD is in a child publication of where the schemas are, then you’d have to localize the schema.

  3. Hi Nick, good observation. I guess I forgot to mention that I consider it to be a good practice to place the WPDs as high in the BluePrint as possible. I normally place them in their own publication one level above the Schemas publication making them easy to share, use and localize wherever you like.

  4. Pingback: Why we don’t use SDL Tridion Workflow | Tridion Developer

  5. One of the things I dislike about workflow in Tridion is how it’s started. It’s always – and only – started when an item is saved. But many customers aren’t too concerned about what an editor saves in Tridion, they are worried about what they may publish to their company’s web site. Why couldn’t a workflow process be started by publishing a page or component?

  6. @Quirijn I like that idea. Workflow should have a “trigger” which could be any of Localize (or) Un-Localize, Save (or Delete), Publish (or Un-Publish). What other actions could be triggers? I had never though of it like that, but it would be really cool.

  7. Nice Post Chris and good meeting you at SDL Innovate.
    Is workflow the only way to avoid publishing items that are not ready for Live? Because of Tridion’s Link propagation, there is a high risk that items will prematurely get published in Live
    Raj

  8. Hi Raj – Workflow is the “out-of-the-box” way to manage approval statuses, how ever I have seen many custom solutions where an author can select whether an item is approved or not in a schema, and then a custom event handler or resolver would prevent items from being published. Do you have a specific challenge in mind?

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