[Nottingham] using perl to control an office workflow

Godfrey Nix godfrey at gnnix.co.uk
Sat Jun 10 16:18:04 BST 2006


I have been working for some time on a Perl module that can be used to
control the sequence of filling out some web forms. My idea is based on
several points -
* the business logic should be external to the programs;
* the programs should be split into web interface and processing;
* sensitive data must stay on central server, with only minimal
info/requests being passed from/to the person at their PC. This led me
to reject packages based on java running on client machines.
* the connection from the web interface to the processing unit should be
open standard, so that other interfaces can be created in the future

This led me last September, to investigate the Workflow Management
Coalition (WfMC) and its XML standard for defining a workflow.

I have created a perl module that will read such an XML file, and given
a starting point produce the next action in the sequence.
Simple outline of a program is -
    read request submitted as XML (from web script or other process)
         handle action
         find next step action  (using my module)
    until action = display
    send XML reply back to requesting process, to be displayed

What I need to do is to expand the code to permit handling of any
'subprocesses', and calling the action within an activity (at the
moment, the subroutine that is executed is the name of the activity)

I see it as the beginning of something that can be used as an
alternative to commercial packages running on that 'other OS'. It can be
used to track documents within an office (plug-in to OCR them?), handle
order processing and interface to accounts, management reporting
packages, etc. You will realise that it is only useful where there are
several steps of processing that can be performed by a computer system.

Of course, you may feel that there is already a package available to do
this work, then let me know. Don't want to waste time if something
already available.

Is anyone interested in working with me on this?

Godfrey Nix <godfrey at gnnix.co.uk>

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