August 30, 2014
  |   Blog, WEM / WCM

Optimizing Workflows in AEM

Unless you’re working by yourself (which you shouldn’t, because we are hiring), not one single person ever makes decisions. For example, if you were choosing your AEM implementation vendor. You’ve studied your possibilities, you’ve analyzed your return on investment and you’ve concluded that Blue Acorn iCi is your best option. So are we good to get started? Of course not! In fact, we’re far from it. There are several other people that need to bless this decision. The larger the job the longer list of people whose approval is needed.
Regardless of the task and/or process, workflows (implemented correctly) promote efficiency and consequently save time and money. In the CMS world the process is often the publishing of content. Hypothetically, that content could be a response to some analytics data that was gathered as a part of AB testing. The bottom line is, the quicker you respond to changes (especially driven by customer feedback), the better off you are in positioning yourself to rise above the competition. Gone are days when a manager tracked the progress of a work item sending e-mails asking for status updates only to find out that “I did my part, I just forgot to send it to that other guy”. In this day and age, time is money, more so than ever before.
Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) has adequate support for workflows. AEM comes with many different out-of-the-box (OOTB) workflow models from request content activation to updating asset metadata. You could also create your own customized workflow models using the drag-and-drop workflow console. For example you could take the OOTB “DAM Update Asset” workflow model that (among other things) creates renditions of fixed dimension that might not be applicable to your business and change it to more relevant dimensions. A customization could also include changing the workflow trigger event from a creation event to a modification event.
Common AEM Workflow Terminology

    • Model – A workflow model is made of steps and transitions. There is always a start node and an end node with one or more steps in between that are connected by transitions. This defines the workflow.
    • Step – CQ5 provides many steps types to define your workflow. They are:
    • Process step – Step where scripts are executed
    • Participant step – Step where particular user or user group has to approve in order to transition to the next step
    • Container step – Step to contain other workflows
    • OR Split – Step that splits the workflow with only active branch
  • AND Split – Step that splits the workflow with both active branch
  • Transition – The link between two consecutive steps.
  • Workitem – Instance of a workflow model
  • Payload – The resource that transitions between the steps
  • Inbox – Where workflow items are made accessible to the logged in user

OOTB Workflow Explained

Let’s take a look at the “Publish Example” OOTB workflow that, as the name suggests, publishes a page.

As you can see there is always a start node and an end node with one or more steps in between that are connected by transitions. After the start node, there is a participant step that is assigned to the Administrator. That is followed by a process step that would publish the page post Administrator approval.

When this workflow is started the Administrator will receive a notification in his Inbox which would look something like this:

Double clicking the work item would open the payload, in this case, a page. The Administrator has then the opportunity to review the page and choose what to do next. These options are conveniently located in the workflow tab of the sidekick. Under normal circumstances the Administrator would click complete to approve the page and process step that followed would publish the page. Voila! Content was created, validated and published.

Arguably the most important reason to implement a web content management system is their support for workflows. Workflows save time by automating processes like content activation, e-mail notifications etc. thereby reducing the time taken to complete those processes. Have I mentioned that time is money already? For most purposes, AEM’s support for workflows will suffice your needs. If you think otherwise contact us and let us show you how you can create customized workflows promoting automation and time-savings for your business.

Lifford Pinto
Lifford is a Senior Scrum master at Blue Acorn iCi, specializing in web development using Adobe CQ5, HTML, JavaScript and CSS in addition to being proficient with back-end development using core Java, Spring and SpringMVC. He also has experience developing mobile apps using the Titanium framework. He brings along a strong grasp of fundamentals in Computer Science, an aptitude for teamwork, a zest for challenges, and an enthusiastic desire to learn all he can.
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