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Monday, September 12, 2011

Modeling Business Processes with AX 2012 and Workflow - Part II - What's new

Recently, I started series for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, focused on Modeling Business Processes with AX 2012 and Workflow. In the first part of that series, I covered past post, that talked to and relayed the vision behind the desired use of workflows in AX 2012 to design and configure business processes with. In this post I continue this series, with Part II, whats new.

A lot has changed with workflows, when comparing AX 2012 to AX 2009, and so in order to help facilitate our dive into workflows, we need to understand what is new, and what the new abilities bring to the game.

To help jump start our understanding of what is new in AX 2012 for Workflows, Microsoft has done a bang up job of providing us some nice information, specifically on this topic. I recommend going to the following resource, for a look at what's new in AX 2012 and workflows: MSDN: What's New: Workflow [AX 2012]

Some of the more interesting highlights of what's new in workflows are:
  • Simplified installation - Workflow server components no longer must be installed on a web server that is running Internet Information Services (IIS). Workflow server components are now automatically installed when you install Microsoft Dynamics AX Application Object Server (AOS).

  • Workflow editor - The workflow editor is a graphical user interface (GUI) that you can use to create Microsoft Dynamics AX workflows by arranging workflow elements on a design surface. The process resembles the process for graphically modeling a business process by using Microsoft Visio. You can add, delete, and reposition elements that represent the tasks and approvals that make up the workflow. You can also add flow-control elements, such as manual and automated decisions. As a result, you can create complex workflows that exactly model the business processes that you want to automate. For more information, see About the workflow editor.

  • Parallel activity – A workflow element that includes two or more branches that run at the same time. Note:This is a huge improvement, and shows the flexibility and power of using the .Net Workflow engine, hosted within AOS.

There are a number of other great improvements, that AX 2012 workflows bring, that just did not exists out of the box with AX 2009. The only low light, that I think is well worth pointing out, is the following.:
"Workflows that were created in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 are not upgraded. Before you upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, we recommend that you either process or recall all business documents that have been submitted for processing."

This is actually very understandable, as the workflow engine in AX 2009 was not the .Net hosted workflow engine really. It was a tack on, very limited offering, that can't compare to what AX 2012 workflows now offer. To try and enable a direct upgrade for these elements, just does not drive value, for the cost. The better value is to recreate, and take advantage of the new workflow elements, and possibilities that now exists in AX 2012.

I want to finish this part II of this series, with understanding what's new in AX 2012 for workflows is key to helping see, and know the possibilities and therefore benefits with using workflows. This is not the same workflow possibilities that were limited in AX 2009.

I plan on trying to keep each post in this series very focused, in building up to the point to where we are building custom workflows, and enabling them all throughout an AX 2012 instance. It think it's important we spend time through the different existing documentation Microsoft provides, we can build a solid base of knowledge, in which to use and extend with. To that end, that's all for now, check back soon though as a whole lot more to come. Till next time!

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