I recently went to go and see a presentation on Microsoft Workflow Foundation. They are coming out with a workflow engine at some point and I was going along to see if they had any good ideas for Kontinuum.
As Workflow Foundation is just a set of DLLs and programming interfaces i.e. it is just an engine I did not feel that it would compete in the same space as Kontinuum.
The guy presenting Workflow Foundation was about 5 minutes into his presentation (btw he couldn’t actually demo the beta do to some sort of error) but he told us that Workflow Foundation can only handle two types of workflow sequential and non-sequential. This means it can only do A->B->C or you can do A, B or C at any time. In all the workflow systems I have been involved with maybe only 20% fit into these two categories. The vast majority have other things happen in them that control behaviour.
1) Most have decisions i.e. if A is done due B or C depending on some result from A.
2) Most have some points that are combinations of sequential and non-sequential i.e. once A is done you can do B or C, but you can not do D until both b and c have been completed.
3) Some have loop back mechanisms i.e. continue to do instances of B until some condition is met
4) Some spawn 1 or more sub workflows
and those are just the bare bones basics….
Editors Note: Apparrently the above paragraph is not correct however I am leaving it in here as some of the comments that follow refer to this paragraph
I am not sure where Microsoft is going with workflow foundation. I suppose it is just meant for extremely simple single user workflows that are designed by people just getting comfortable with web browsers, but if that is the case then why is there only a programming interface. My main gripe however is the acronym WWF. Which in my mind is either the World Wrestling Federation or the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF acronym is overcrowded already.
Editors Note: It appears that since I posted this article Windows Workflow Foundation is now being abbreviated as just WF. Although if you query google on “Windows Workflow Foundation” or “Workflow Foundation” you get pretty much the same number of hits.