Workflow in Notes applications

Something I like about traveling is to be able to spend some time on reading larger documents than a couple of pages. For example publications / articles from The View magazine. This time I had printed out some old skool articles regarding OO development in LotusScript. Good stuff there!

So for another trip I was thinking reading some publications on creating workflow application in Lotus Notes. The results? Hmmm quiet disappointing. You would start to believe Notes is just not build for workflow.

I believe The View sends out a survey every now and then asking what the interest of their audience is but making this more transparent to the outside world via IdeaJam would that not be something for them? Just a thought (could be used also for IBM developerWorks).

In the meantime: If you know a good online source to read some tutorials, hints, tips, examples for creating workflow applications in Lotus Notes don’t hesitate to drop an URL here. Thanks!

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11 thoughts on “Workflow in Notes applications

  1. Sean Cull 2009-September-23 / 11:54 am

    It depends if you are looking at the question as a developer or super user.

    As a developer I think that it is fantastic for workflow but I roll my own for each application based on some modular bits that get reused – it is still a developer activity though

    Over the years I have tried to develop the ideal work flow engine for all applications and I have come to the view that it doesn’t ( and cannot ) exist. As you make it more complicated the configuration becomes more complex and IMHO a good developer could do a quicker job with code while still providing relevant configurability for super users.

    I have looked at other peoples very impressive attempts to do the same but I always come to the same conclusion

    Note that the workflow I am talking about is the more complex type such as a travel authorisation application that needs to refer to authorisation limits etc..

    For a simple approver A then approver B you can obviously do something generic, but there again so can Sharepoint

  2. Pierre 2009-September-23 / 2:05 pm

    Hi Patrick,

    Here is a link to a new Lotus Notes and Web clients workflow (processes) platform called “kiwi.hoop”. See the link to a on-line user training (sorry in french only for now). I beleive that this is the new way to do workflows with Notes/Domino.

    This platform is bilingual (FR/EN) and for Notes client or Web clients. It use extJS as the web framework.

    Link: http://hoop.kiwi.ca/p/help-fr.html

    Here is a link to a demo (EN) of our one year old release. New release in octobre.

    http://www.kiwi.ca/p/solutions/hoop/demo-en.html

    Hope this help.

  3. Patrick Picard 2009-September-23 / 4:38 pm

    The Lotus Notes Developer’s toolbox by Mark elliot has a chapter on Workflow application. It is a rather basic workflow application.

    Comparing that workflow with some I have internally, it follows a similar model….but as Sean Cull said, when creating new apps, bits and pieces are reused and no “framework” per se is used.

  4. Meg McGrath 2009-September-23 / 9:15 pm

    Totally agree with Kevin. We’ve been using ProcessIt for years and it’s as close to ideal as anyone here has seen. And we’ve looked at Percussion, Lotus Workflow, Kiwi (sorry, Pierre), and others. We standardized all workflow apps on it a while back and now that we (developers) have gotten the hang of it, I will never write another workflow app “the hard way” again. Not to mention, our CIO almost kissed me when I activated the ProcessIt Blackberry feature 😉

    I also agree with Patrick Kwinten. IBM has done a lame job at touting Domino’s strengths in the workflow arena while Microsoft has opened a can of Sharepoint marketing whoop-you-know-what . Notes was built for workflow! The real shame of it is that they (IBM) hasn’t incorporated something like ProcessIt as a template that ships with Notes yet.

    As far as other resources on the topic of workflow goes, I don’t know of any consolidated online resource. There are occasional speakers on the topic at LS and other regional meets, but whenever we are going to spin up a new project, we just call the guys at Teamwork Solutions. Whatever it is, they’ve already done it for other customers, so we don’t have to start from scratch. They have ended being the best resource on the topic for us by far.

    Happy reading!

  5. Patrick Kwinten 2009-September-24 / 8:48 am

    Hej Meg,

    I have looked at the Teamwork Solutions website, their offerings and pricing. But aren’t they shooting themselves in the foot in these ‘economic’ uncertain times by asking for example:

    Tier 4 – Up to 100,000 users: $240,000

    Which company wants to pay such an amount for a single solution? Sorry but I cannot sell these prices to my customers…

    • Pierre 2009-September-24 / 2:03 pm

      Comparing prices, kiwi.hoop is offered at 30000$ for unlimited processes/users/servers. It’s Notes and Web, French and English. It will be soon available to mobile devices (iPhone / Blackberry) also.

      It manage your organisation by providing user profile for employee, client and provider, workgroups, roles and your organization structure (manager, assistant-manager, department members).

      It seperare Data (form), People (organization) and Logic (process). So when a change happen in your organization, you can apply it without going through everything. For example, we recently had a request to revise 7 processes. The client wanted to add a new activity in every 7 processes. We acheived that in less then 3 hours even from a remote access (slow network).

      Their web site and content will be updated by mid-october when the new kiwi.hoop will be release. This is a very well design solution.

    • Notes Grrl 2009-September-24 / 2:29 pm

      Patrick,

      Fair point, but a little misleading. We use ProcessIt, too.

      I checked their site and they could probably do a better job with their information. But, a few things to consider:

      – That price is for the largest possible organization with unlimited use across the entire global enterprise. That’s like the biggest, most expensive license offered. And you have to be a big (VERY BIG, like Exxon Mobile or Coca Cola) Notes shop to qualify for that level. Even still, on a per user basis that’s as many workflow applications as you want for as long as you want for less than a capuccino at Starbucks.

      – They also sell other licenses – including (I think) a fully functional version for something like $7500. And there’s no limit to the number of users. So, to be fair, you can also get ProcessIt for 96% less than the number you quoted.

      – My company has an enterprise license, but we didn’t pay $240k. First, we aren’t large enough. And second, we got a fractional license. That means that instead of having to buy a license for all 25,000 users in the global NAB (which would have cost us $180k), we licensed just our domestic operations of 4,000 users for $60k – 75% less than your scary number. And so far we’ve deployed over over 50 different workflow processes and only need one developer to maintain them.

      Now those are real numbers, so I wouldn’t worry about trying to sell a single solution for $240k. I realize I probably sound like a cheerleader, but I’m just giving you my real world experience…

      PS – I just saw Pierre’s posts. Isn’t it poor etiquette to use someone’s blog space for your own marketing purposes? Ick.

      • Pierre 2009-September-24 / 2:58 pm

        Notes Grrl,

        This post is about “creating workflow application in Lotus Notes”. Teamsol with ProcessIt have a very successful product (I think) but there are other solutions also. Since ProcessIt had been mention many times in these comments, I just wanted to comment on the original topic about solution for creating workflows with Lotus Notes.

        Sorry for this etiquette you just gave me 😉

  6. Kim van den Berg 2010-July-11 / 10:49 pm

    May I add the workflow engine we use to build workflow applications to your comments?

    The Workflow Manager is a powerful, easy-to-use document-based workflow engine that works with any version of Notes/Domino from 5.0 upwards, including R8. Supports any workflow, including Serial, Multiple Approver (i.e. multiple users allocated a document at the same time) and Parallel workflows, with working examples provided.

    Feel free to view our website for more information: http://www.lialis.com/Applications/EnglishSite.nsf/dx/Workflow_applications_general

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