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More on Microsoft and its Workflow Foundation

Had a useful meeting with Microsoft in New York, discussing – among other things – the 'issue' of Windows Workflow Foundation 4.0. Microsoft's view is that the evolution from v 3.0 to v 4.0 is essential if the workflow tools are to keep pace with the evolution taking place within the rest of Microsoft's front and back office environments. (Remember, we've got Windows 7.0 – which, apparently, will permit a direct migration from XP to 7.0, skipping the Vista generation – and a new version of Office on the horizon next year.) Furthermore, although most of the whingeing about WF 4.0 is coming from some developers, particularly those with axes to grind in the Elite versus Aderant debate (Microsoft's wording was a little more tactful) – the move from 3.0 to 4.0 will actually benefit the developer community. For a useful discussion on the migration issues, check out this site…
http://blogs.msdn.com/endpoint/archive/2009/01/20/the-road-to-wf-4-0-part-1.aspx

10 replies on “More on Microsoft and its Workflow Foundation”

But at least it should not mean a pointless purchase and installation of Vista first before installing Windows 7.

Hi Guys, hoping you could help with this question. We're looking at PMS's and this workflow thing is important for us. I've read the other comments on the 'Elite vs Aderant workflow' stuff and I want to make sure I understand. Both Aderant and 3E have .NET capability, though 3E is 100% .NET whilst Aderant still uses non .NET functionality at it's core – this is the “Evolution not Revolution” thing (sorry can you see I've been speaking to both vendors??). 3E uses it's own proprietary workflow and Aderant use Workflow Foundation, and so the 'Elite vs Aderant workflow' argument. But if 3E is .NET you could use WF with 3E as easily as you could with Aderant couldn't you? Actually, it would probably be easier given 3E already is a workflow driven product so would be more likely to easily fit into a workflow environment. So there must be some reason that WF won't work with 3E, or this discussion doesn't make any sense?
Can anyone comment on this?

No reason at all why the MS Workflow product cannot be used with 3E. Easier with built in tools though.

You're asking the wrong questions. What you should be asking is:
1. “How much of your product's functionality can be driven by workflow of any sort?”
3E: All of it.
Aderant: Jam Tomorrow. (i.e. a few obvious functions so we can tick the box, we're working on the rest but who knows when it'll be done?)
2. “How many of your customers are running your latest release?”
3E: Not many (too new/not finished)
Aderant: Not many (can't be arsed to uprgade)
Rock –> You <-- Hard Place

Good points made above. 3e is engineered for workflow from the ground up. You can't just bolt workflow on – you have to completely re-build your applications code so that it consists of discrete objects that can operate as 'callable' functions. Your average time recording or billing review program the 1990's just isn't built for that. Aderant must be re-writing unless they have discovered some magical way to avoid using code, but are probably doing it in a way that's dressed up as 'upgrades' so that they don't phase their clients like Elite did when it became apparent that 3e would mean a complete re-implementation to move from Enterprise. The assessment above is probably correct – 3e is there today, save for a proper understanding of how to implement BPM systems from the ground up (they will learn).

So said the Thomson rep. The counter suggestion:
1. 3E: None. But then you can't make manual entries either if they involve more than one currency, one ledger, one anything. Aderant: Any. Some courtesy of Aderant development on top of WF, other by development in WF or waiting for Aderant to produce.
2. 3E: Hmmm. Can I get back to you please when it's ready (it's only been released three years, give me time to get one up and running). Aderant: About 100 now and ongoing at the rate of 2 each week.
Good fun trying to establish exactly what the truth is out there.

Who are the biggest resellers of MS workflow and CRM? We are just looking into this.

The trick with Microsoft WF is that as long as your PMS system database can be accessed by WF, and as long as WF can utilise a approved system API so that updates are processed correctly then there is no need to re-code applications entirely.
Obviously anything created directly using Microsoft Communication/Presentation Foundation (as is incrementally happening with ADERANT Expert) will be a better fit with WF, but given the caveats above there is no reason why existing systems cannot make use of WF – including, as previously posted, 3E where there may be requirements for non 3E systems to interact with 3E.

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