• mwinkle.blog

    Great Workflow Quote


    From Brian R's blog:

    "Workflow is both cute and pretty"

    A little more background on the quote will be coming in my next post!

  • mwinkle.blog

    wf.netfx3.com new rss feeds


    One thing that isn't so nice about the new http://wf.netfx3.com site is that all of the file listings do not roll up into one single nice syndication feed.  I want the ability to aggregate all of the files into nice rss feeds so I can stay on top of samples, activities, etc. In order to enable this I had to create new blogs that aggregate the individual folder feeds, and then another one to aggregate those blogs.

    So, here we go:

    And, the rss feed that rules them all

    All Content From wf.netfx3.com


  • mwinkle.blog

    New Screencasts for WF


    I just posted two screencasts over on channel9.

    I've got another one in the works and I will try to get these out with some regularity!

  • mwinkle.blog

    Must-See Workflow Sample


    First, a quick welcome to the world of wokflow blogging to Sergey, a developer on the WF team.  Sergey has just posted the Workflow Manager sample on wf.netfx3.com.  This is a sample application that allows you to inspect workflows that are running, change them using the dynamic update features.

    Go to the website, download the sample, and see what you can do with designer re-hosting, dynamic update, and the tracking service.

    This sample requires the June CTP of .NET 3.0


  • mwinkle.blog

    Hosting Workflows in a Web Service


    This started as a discussion over on the forums, but I ended up writing a fairly long winded response, and for the sake of the whole internet, I'm going to place it here as well so it doesn't get lost in forum-based obscurity!

    The question related to hosting WF as a web service, but not in ASP.NET.  If you expose it as an asmx web service, either by selecting "publish as web service" or by rolling your own asmx web service project, they are going to still be hosted in IIS, but in a different application.

    Anyway, my article is located here.

  • mwinkle.blog

    Speech Server Video on Channel 9

    Channel 9 has just posted a video showing off the new version of Speech Server.  Speech Server is one of the applications from Microsoft built using Windows Workflow Foundation.  As you can see in the video, they have created activities related to speech tasks, and allow you to arrange them using the workflow designer to give them drag and drop capabilities to design a speech app.  The goal here is to make authoring speech applications a whole lot easier.  The workflow designer makes its first appearence at 8:05 in the video!

    Check it out!

  • mwinkle.blog

    TechEd Workflow Chalk Talks


    One of the things that worked out incredibly well at TechEd was our chalk talks.  We had a small theater set up with about 20-30 seats, a whiteboard and a small monitor for presentations.  A number of the chalk talks on Windows Workflow Foundation were "steal a chair" events, where more people showed up than chairs.  These talks were a great chance to dive deep into some specific areas of functionality, answer questions and head on over to the whiteboard to work through some design issues as well.

    Now we have the talks posted on the community site, so check them out.

  • mwinkle.blog

    .NET Rocks does Workflow


    I'm still digging out from TechEd, but while I did that I fired up my podcatcher and found a new episode of .NET Rocks waiting for me, with a title that caught my eye.  I then found that on .NET Rocks TV, June has been the "Month of Workflow."  Check it out!

  • mwinkle.blog

    Look Mom, We Made CNET!!!

    The workflow Technical Learning Center appears in CNET's "The View From TechEd 2006"
  • mwinkle.blog

    WinFX Name Change


    S. Somasegar just announced the WinFX name change.  It's now the .NET Framework 3.0.  This is a name change for the technology, which still has all of the great parts: Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Communciation Foundation, Windows CardSpace, and Windows Workflow Foundation. I think that this makes it clear that WinFX is not a separate entity from .NET, the two have always been tied very closely together, and the naming now reflects this. 

    We'll be rolling out a new version of www.windowsworkflow.net shortly, watch this space for more details!


  • mwinkle.blog

    A Quick Update


    I was out of town for most of this week, so I am busy catching up on things here. 

    First, I would like to thank Jon for this post, pointing out some areas of improvement which can be made in the designer re-hosting sample that I pointed to.  Paul then let me know that Vihang's article on MSDN had been updated as well.  Vihang's article is a great introduction to a lot of the issues that you will encounter in designer rehosting.

    Other than that, I'm getting ready to head off to TechEd, where the WF team will be in full force.  If you're looking to find out anything about worklow, stop by our sessions or chalk talks. If you're plate is already full with other things to do, stop on by the Connected Systems TLC in the developer section (I think it's "blue").  There will be plenty of product team members hanging around to talk about any workflow questions you might have.  I'll be the guy wearing the blue Microsoft shirt, so I should be pretty easy to find! 

    Oh, and make sure to check out www.windowsworkflow.net on Monday morning, we've got a little bit of an update coming :-);

  • mwinkle.blog

    Custom WF Designer Sample

    As mentioned below, the sample is now available here.
  • mwinkle.blog

    MSDN Workflow Webcast Info


    I did my first MSDN webcast this morning (you can find details about it here).  As promised I wanted to put in links to all of the demos that I did during the webcast.  If you have any questions, please let me know.  SDK samples are available in the \Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows Workflow Foundation\Samples.zip.  I usually just expand the zip file so that I have a samples subdirectory in that folder.

    • Long Running Processes (expense reporting sample)
    • Using Comples Rules (rules driven ui sample)
    • Ad Hoc Workflow (SDK:  Samples\Applications\SpeechApplication)
    • Customizing Workflows Inflight (not shown in the webcast, SDK: Samples\Technologies\DynamicUpdate\FromHost)
    • Surfacing Process Information (SDK: Samples\Applications\WorkflowMonitor)
    • Allowing Users to Customize the Workflow (custom designer sample, this will be posted shortly)

    Special thanks to Vittorio Bertocci and Iwona Bialynicka-Birula for their work on the custom designer sample application.

  • mwinkle.blog

    Yet Another TechEd Post


    There is one additional chalk-talk that is not in the previous list.  In addition to chalk talks that dive deep into technical areas, we've got one from a customer who has just wrapped up a project that deployed Workflow.  Marc has been working with them on this, and they're going to talk about what they've done.  This is a great chance to hear about WinFX from someone who has already deployed it in their production environment.  The details are below:


    Abstract: Credit Suisse Group is a leading global financial services company, providing clients with investment banking, private banking and asset management services worldwide. Like in most enterprises, Credit Suisse provided their developers with physical machines for development. Issues such as combination of authorization, physical delivery times and compliance-related workflows led to slow development timeframes. Their R&D group built an extremely extensible self-service virtual-machine provisioning system that enables software developers in a fraction of the time to easily, securely and rapidly provision on-demand disposable workstations, servers, and multi-tier environments. Credit Suisse will exponentially increase software developer productivity, drastically lower IT costs and ensure compliancy with continuously stringent regulatory requirements. The solution uses Windows Workflow Foundation, Windows Communication Foundation, and Virtual Server.

    Speaker: Leslie Muller (Architect - Credit Suisse Global R&D)

    Location: Thursday 6/15/2006 from 10:15-11:30 in Theatre 2.

    If you can't make it to TechEd but are interested in this, please contact me and I'll see what I can get to you!

  • mwinkle.blog

    So, maybe you're not going to TechEd this year...


    No problem, you can still take part in the sessions.  Dennis will be doing one that talks about using Workflow Foundation and WCF together, always a topic a lot of people ask about.  It just so happens that talk will be broadcast live.  There's also a talk broadcast live on ASP.NET and WF.  If that's not what you're looking for, there will be a lot of sessions broadcast, check out this page.

  • mwinkle.blog

    Using the Rules Engine outside of Workflow


    Moustafa has put together a fantastic sample application that shows how you can use the Rules Engine in Windows Workflow Foundation to execute rulesets against any target object.  In this example, the ruleset prepopulates fields in a Windows Form, validates entries as well as performs calculations.  This example shows the application obtaining the ruleset from an external database, allowing an easy way to separate the logic expressed in the ruleset from the compiled code that makes up the form.  In this way you can alter the specifics of the business logic of your application, say a pricing policy, without diving into the code of the application.

    If you're interested in learning more about the Rules Engine, these other samples are available on the community site.

    Also, Jurgen has written an excellent article on MSDN discussing the Rules Engine.

  • mwinkle.blog

    Workflow @ TechEd 2006


    The scene: Boston, June 20006

    The story: Workflow is going to be out in full force, we've got a ton of great sessions lined up, and we've tried to create a bunch of good chalk-talks for people to attend when they just can't get enough workflow!  Ok, to be specifice, we've got 15 workflow sessions, and another 8 chalk-talks on top of that.  You can't find the chalk-talks from the main site yet, so I'm going to list them below.  When you get to Boston come find us in the Connected Systems (CON) in the developer Technical Learning Center (TLC), which I believe is going to be color designated the blue TLC.  We'll have something that lets you know when you can attend these great sessions. And remember, these aren't recorded, so it's a one time show, you may never be able to catch these presentations again!

    CON-TLC206 Monitoring Running Workflows Using the Tracking Service
    Presenters: Moustafa Ahmed & Joel West 

    In Windows Workflow Foundation, the tracking service keeps log information about workflow events and activity execution statuses. The workflow runtime automatically identifies events related to executing workflow instances and outputs them to a tracking service. This chalk talk will cover the capabilities of the out of box SQL-based tracking service as well as how and why you would build a custom tracking service.

    CON-TLC208 Hosting a web application business logic in WF
    Presenter: Matthew Winkler 

    In this chalk talk we’ll look at ways to leverage WF to handle the business logic in your web application.  First, we’ll look at hosting options (in process, exposed via WCF) and then move into a few different patterns for workflow.  These will include using WF to manage short lived business logic (from postback to render), participating in long running business process managed by WF, and using the Rules Engine to drive validation and other rules based scenarios.  We’ll also discuss security considerations in these approaches as well as listen to how you’re planning on using WF in your web applications.

    CON-TLC209 Rehosting of the Workflow Designer
    Presenter: Devinder Singh 

    Windows Workflow Foundation comes with a workflow designer which you normally use in Visual Studio 2005. The workflow designer component is allowed to be rehosted in your application. This talk will describe how you can add the workflow designer into your application so that your application can create and edit sequential and state machine workflow models. We will cover workflow designer feature integration of activity property binding, the rules editor and using code handlers with your designed workflow models.

    CON-TLC302 UI Page Flow by hosting WF in ASP.NET
    Presenter: Israel Hilerio 

    In a web application the transitions between multiple web pages is often written in code. The business logic deciding which page to send the user to next gets hidden in with the procedural code in the page. User interface page flow is a concept to allow the declarative modeling of page transitions and this can be implemented using Windows Workflow Foundation. This talk will describe the concept in more detail and give you a sneak peak at the advances that Microsoft is planning in this area.

    CON-TLC303 The Windows Workflow Foundation Scheduler Service and Transactions
    Presenter: Israel Hilerio 

    The WorkflowSchedulerService defines how CPU threads can be used by the workflow runtime. Standard ACID transactions are supported in Windows Workflow Foundation through the TransactionScope composite activity. Long running processes that require some compensatory action when an exception occurs are also supported through the CompensatableTransactionScope. This talk will discuss these interesting areas of Windows Workflow Foundation.

    CON-TLC304 Understanding Windows Workflow Exceptions, Transactions and Compensation
    Presenter: Gerald Walsh 


    Windows Workflow Foundation provides a rich set of features to support powerful fault handling, robust Atomic and long-running transactions, and flexible compensation support for failed transactions. This session will examine how to manage exceptions within a workflow, how to use the System.Transactions namespace, how to implement both atomic and long-running transactions, and how to utilize compensation and the compensate activity to recover from faults occurring during a transaction’s execution. Demonstrations will be provided to highlight the features and techniques developers need to know to build resilient and reliable workflow applications.

    CON-TLC305 Inside the WF runtime
    Presenter: Bob Schmidt 

    The WorkflowRuntime is the engine that manages executing workflow instances in Windows Workflow Foundation. It handles events for workflow instances, interacts with services that the host application adds and manages workflow persistence. This talk will drill down into the workflow runtime and give you some insight as to how it works. This will be an advanced talk and you should have some prior exposure to Windows Workflow Foundation prior to attending.

    CON-TLC306 Windows Workflow Foundation - Rules Engine Extensibility
    Presenter: Jurgen Willis 

    The breakout session “Windows Workflow Foundation: Building Rules-Based Workflows” gave an introduction to the rules engine capabilities provided in Windows Workflow Foundation (WF).  In this chalk talk, learn more about the WF Rules extensibility mechanisms, which support more advanced scenarios.  See an example of how to externalize rules so that they can be maintained separately from the workflow assembly.  In addition, learn how to author and execute rules outside of a workflow.  Also, see how you can create custom expression and action types that can be used directly in your rules.

  • mwinkle.blog

    Testing from Microsoft Word 2007


    I’m pleased to find out that Word 2007 produced this! More details available here.

  • mwinkle.blog

    New Workflow Activities


    We've gotten a few submissions over on the community site.  I want to thank the contributors, and point out the new activities that are up there;

    There are a couple of others in the approval queue that I am waiting to get modified just a bit and I will be posting those shortly as well.

    Got an activity?  Upload it to our activity gallery!

  • mwinkle.blog

    WF Beta 2 vs. Beta 2.2


    As announced on the community site, Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) Beta 2.2 is available here.

    A very important point to note: You can not install this on top of an installation of the February CTP of WinFx.  So, if you have WinFx installed you will have to uninstall it, all the pieces and parts, in order to install Beta 2.2. If you are focused on a solution that only leverages WF, and not WCF or WPF, and want to upgrade to a newer version of the bits which are closer to the version which will be released, this is the path for you.  If you are building a solution that leverages additional WinFx technologies, you will want to stick with the February CTP. 

    The install of Beta 2.2 contains all of the components (see below) of a WF install, and is titled the "Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Extensions for Windows Workflow Foundation Beta 2.2."  That's a mouthful.  For Beta 2.2, this is the only thing that you need to install.  A summary of the changes are contained here.

    On to a completely different topic.  I've also gotten some questions about why the WinFx install contains what seems like 3 different installs.  The simple answer is that there are really three components to WinFx (and thus, applies to WF).

    • The WinFx runtime:  This is all you need if you want to run WinFx applications.
    • The Windows SDK: As WinFx is a platform component of Windows, it has a Windows SDK component, consisting of samples, documentation, etc.  This is what you need if you want to build WinFx applications. 
    • The Visual Studio Extensions:  This is the design component that integrates with Visual Studio and contains documentation to that effect.  This is what you need if you want to design WinFx applications in Visual Studio.  A similar component is the CTP of the "Orcas" designer for WPF applications (available here).

    So, three pieces: runtime, SDK, designer, and now you know why they are there. 

  • mwinkle.blog

    Rules Engine Webcast


    Jurgen put together a great webcast on building rules-based applications using WF.


    Check it out.  Now.

  • mwinkle.blog

    Pointing out something cool...


    So, everybody out there probably saw this XBox 360 tracker application from http://untitlednet.com/.  I know that I've heard reports of links of this thing smoking through offices faster than a "it's Friday so you can leave an hour early" email.

    Craig takes the idea and really kicks it up a notch, while at the same time showing off some cool features that will ship as part of WinFx.  Go check out the code, and I'd like to point out the way that he uses workflow as a means by which to organize all of the work that he needs his application to do.  He also shows some ways to get your workflow instance to communicate back to your user interface. 

    Check out this channel9 video that documents the approach he took, and how he leveraged these technologies, WCF, Workflow, and WPF in order to create a pretty sweet application.  Now I just need to find an XBox 360 in Seattle!

  • mwinkle.blog



    So here I am...

    Two weeks following my NEO (new employee orientation) here in Redmond, I've finally caught my breath enough to put an entry up on this blog.

    First, a little bit about me, before I dive right into all things workflow.  I'm from St. Louis, where I grew up, and spent the last five years working for two different Microsoft partners.  Then, in January, I decided to accept a position here at Microsoft as the technical evangelist for Windows Workflow.  My wife, daughter, and pug then headed out here.

    I'm out here now as the Technical Evangelist for Windows Workflow. I'm working in James Conard's Longhorn Server Evangilism team, with some other evangelists are doing some cool things.

    I'm focused on talking about Windows Workflow, so let me start by talking about why I am so excited about it.  Almost every application, from an embedded video controller, to an enterprise content management system, manages a lot of the same things.  We manage where we're at, where we're going.  We (should) track where  we've been, what we're doing right now, how long things are taking, and we should make that information easy to see.  We usually need to act over a period of time that's longer than a quick void main(), and we should be able to gracefully recover in the case where something goes wrong.  If we don't like the way a current app is handling these things, we should be able to swap that out with an implementation
    that fits our situation a litle better.

    Now, a well-designed, well-planned, well-coded and well-tested solution will handle a lot of these scenarios. Windows Workflow Foundation gives a toolkit to developers that does a lot of this for us, giving us a very well designed base to build our apps on top of.  A lot of that infrastructure that we write again and again on applications, or bake into frameworks we push out to our organization's developers to use, exists in Workflow already.  We can easily extend it to map to our specific objects by writing our own activities.  We can incorporate those activities (graphically) into our program flow or composite those basic activities into more  complicated ones.   If the out of the box host doesn't meet our needs, we can write a new tracking service, a new persistance provider.

    These are common problems faced in many problem domains, and this is an incredibly versatile swiss-army knife that many developers will be able to use. I'm excited becuase I think it's a well designed product, and I think it's something that almost every developer can use, and I can't wait to hear about how everyone's using it!  Until next time, check things out at http://www.windowsworkflow.net/

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