How To Use Workflows in Adobe Experience Manager

How To Use Workflows in Adobe Experience Manager

Hey there, Stefan Hofmeister from the Adobe Experience Manager podcast team at Axis41. Today we talked with Vagner Polund, an Adobe certified AEM expert.  He answered a few questions we had concerning workflows in AEM 6.0.

How long have you worked with AEM?

Vagner: I’m coming up on two years.

How much of that time has been with workflows?

Vagner: It’s hard to say, because every project that I’ve touched has used workflows to some extent in the past two years. Typically if a project has a workflow issue, I’ve been the “go to” developer to help out on the project. So I would say about 6 months cumulative if I needed to give a time frame.

What can you tell us about workflows?

Vagner: Workflows allow you to automate specific processes in AEM. They are a series of step-by-step processes. Each step can perform a specific action on the item being pushed through the workflow. The item that is pushed through the workflow is called the payload. One step must be completed before the payload is moved from one step to the next.

What would you say is the most common used step and how do you get it to work for what you need?

Vagner: I’ve seen a number of steps that have been used for numerous reasons, but the one that I have seen used more than once is the Participant Step. This is a workflow step that allows you to select a user group to be part of a workflow process. I have seen it used typically for approval processes. If there is a specific page that needs to be approved by a series of officials, like editors, they need to sign off on the page content before it is pushed into a live environment.

The Participant Step is easy to configure for any CQ author and is relatively straightforward. The most important thing to remember about using the participant step is setting up the user group properly. Making sure that the right permissions to the content that the participant is going to be sent via the workflow is important.  If permissions are not set up right, the participant will not have the ability to view the payload that is passed in through the workflow.

What tips or words of advice would you give to future workflow creators?

Vagner: There is potential that workflow processes’ can go stale due to a failure in a step. It may not be likely for things to break in a workflow process, but it does happen. When it does happen, the workflow process needs to be terminated. Sometimes an author will try to send a page through a workflow process, but the workflow process will not start because the page is already in an existing stale workflow process. As long as the stale workflow process with a specific page exists as its payload, any attempts to put that specific page through that workflow will be blocked. The reason for this is because AEM will recognize that there is already an existing workflow process with that specific page. Even though the process is stale, it still will not launch a new workflow process with a specific page as long as the stale process is not resolved.

Workflows are typically created with pages being intended as the only payload. It is important to note that assets in the Digital Asset Manager can be treated as the payload. Such assets can be jpg, jpeg, doc, docx, zip, pdf, and many other mime types. This is an important consideration as workflows can be utilized to automate specific actions that need to be taken on digital assets that are uploaded. Such actions could be unzipping a file that you upload into the AEM environment.

Are there pitfalls to avoid when working with workflows?

Vagner: There is an important thing to note about workflows that are completed. A workflow process, even though it completes and is finalized, will leave traces of the process behind. This can lead to excess baggage that could potentially bloat the content repository and take up unnecessary space. Make sure you clean up old completed workflow processes’. It’s important because you want to avoid having your AEM application become bloated with old unnecessary content.

Thank you Vagner for taking the time to answer our AEM 6.0 workflow questions. If you have more questions about workflows or if you’d like to see podcasts, videos, or interviews on  a future topic, email us at [email protected] or tweet us @Axis41. To stay up to date on the latest Adobe AEM 6.0 news, check out our AEM showcase page on LinkedIn.