Low Code Automation & Nintex K2 Five Journey By Nintex MVP - A Deep Dive into K2 Designer - Workflow

AhmadAlbadri86
Nintex MVP
2 0 119

The workflow engine of K2 is by far its most powerful and distinguishing feature compared to other similar tools and platforms in the market. The user friendly interface, rich out of the box (OOB) tools, built in functions all contribute to a quick build and amend capability, making K2 workflow stand out both functionally and technically.

 

The workflow designer canvas is composed of different workflow web parts that can be easily dragged and dropped into the canvas area where they can be connected together to achieve hyper automation. 

 

The main webparts available include:

 

  • Tasks
  • Decisions
  • Messages/Notification Emails
  • Splits
  • Merges
  • Timers
  • End Block

 

Tasks: Process actioners are defined using tasks. Mandatory properties of tasks that need to be defined for a successful deploy of the workflow include:

 

  • Name of the task (By default, its set to Task)
  • Recipient of the task (By default set to the originator) 
  • The Smart Form that the task owner will need to action (By default set to a Basic Task form)
  • Actions list the task owner can perform
  • Email Alert to be received by the task recipient (K2 out of the box notification)

 

There are other properties which may be defined if needed such as:

 

  • Reminder frequency
  • Deadlines of the task and actions if task crosses deadlines
  • Standard Rules if task has multiple recipients (First Response to move workflow or Consensus meaning all recipients need to action to move the workflow)

 

Decisions: Decisions are the diamond shaped web parts and are considered the routing gates of a workflow. When connecting the task to a decision web part, the decision web part would automatically pick up the different action options associated to a task and create the different routes the workflow would move. Decisions may also be used on their own if they are not task related.

 

Email Messages: The Email Message is a web part that constitutes of a recipient, title, body, attachment composer. There is a common confusion between Email messages which are an independent webpart and the Email Alert which are associated to tasks. The difference is simple. The Email Alerts are messages to the task recipient for informing him/her of a task pending their action. The workflow would not move unless an action is taken. The Email Messages are web parts just to inform the recipient of something. They are not tasks meaning the workflow will continue moving after the email message is sent not requiring any sort of action from the recipient.

 

Splits: Similar to decisions, splits are the web parts that are used to define the different routes a workflow would take based on custom rules. In a split, a developer may choose for the split to take all routes at the same time which is the main different with a decision web part where a developer would need to choose a specific route. Splits are more efficient to use if the routing is based on rules not on tasks. 

 

Merges: Merges are used to merge to distinct routes into 1 route again. They significantly reduce redundancy of web parts for common purposes

 

Timers: Timers are used to hold the workflow from moving until a specific date or a period of time defined in Days, Hours or Minutes

 

End Block: The red square looking web part is used as the closure block of the workflow instance.

 

In addition to all the above web parts, there are other web parts in the left canvas menu of the K2 workflow designer module such as "Loops" "Smart Objects" and others. 

 

Loops: This web part is used to go through full lists of data sources. A loop can be used to look for a specific value in a data set.

 

Smart Objects: Values from a smart object or to be written to a smart object can be done by using the Smart Object web part in the workflow.

 

The context browser menu of the right side of the workflow canvas can be used to:

 

  • Create variables: Variable are containers that can be assigned data values that live for the period of the workflow instance. Smart Forms can pass values to the workflow via variables. Variables in the workflow can be used for assigning recipients to tasks, value checking in workflow rules and other reasons. 

 

  • Create References: A workflow can reference values from smart objects to be used during the workflow. A reference index may also be stored from looping through data sets.

 

  • Functions: Functions are similar to expression functions in a Smart Form which were discussed in the previous article. They allow developers to utilize out of the box functions to perform specific tasks. Example passing a date to a Year function would be an expression to capture the year of any variable date. A Count function would be able to give back the count of rows in a list etc..

 

  • Workflow: The workflow menu would give access to the developer to workflow related data that he/she can use in their workflow e.g. Display Name, Email of the originator, the start date of the workflow, the folio of the workflow, the ID of a task etc..

 

K2 workflow builder is extremely rich in capability and the above outline the most common used elements only. To come will be a series of videos that puts the knowledge outlined in the series of articles to the test via practical implementation. The series will be based on real life day to day scenarios, starting with how to build a simple workflow, and more complex workflows as we go.

 

I hope that the read was worth your time and was fruitful to introduce you to K2. If you think it was, i appreciate if you may tag, like and comment.

 

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