Documentum Workflow Manager, BPM, and Licensing

We just finished a new 6.6 Documentum install for a client and ran into something slightly unusual.  During the installation, we were not able to install a workflow template from an existing archive, a routine install activity.  In the past, we could always move workflow templates between repositories using Application Builder and Installer and create new templates with Workflow Manager.  While Documentum Application Builder and Application Installer became unsupported with the release of Documentum 6.0, Composer was introduced as a replacement.  Up until recently, Composer supported the archival and deployment of workflow templates.  Most of our Documentum clients were surprised to learn that the 6.6 release of Composer does not allow workflow templates to be archived without having Process Engine, a component of the Business Process Manager (BPM) suite, installed in the repository.  This post will discuss this issue, as well as our thoughts on possible future Documentum licensing around workflow tools.

Background

For those familiar with Documentum, workflow was something that has always existed within Documentum as part of the client interfaces (SmartSpace, WorkSpace, Webtop….).  Workflow relies on certain unique Documentum objects, including dm_process and dm_workflow.  Users had the basic ability to:

1)      create a workflow template with Workflow Manager (using DA, Webtop, or the stand-alone client packaged with Composer)

2)      pick the template when initiating a workflow

3)      inbox, approve, reject, delegate…

4)      port workflow templates between repositories using Application Builder/Installer or Composer

With a new Documentum 6.6 installation, clients can still perform functions 1, 2, and 3 but need to have BPM components installed in the repository in order to perform 4.  While difficult to find, a stand-alone version of Workflow Manager (similar to the version that was formerly packaged with the Application Builder suite) is packaged with Composer.  User documentation states that, “Workflow Manager is only bundled but not integrated with Composer.”   Workflow Manager is also still included as a plugin that can be launched in Documentum Administrator (DA) and Webtop.  Workflow Manager takes care of creating and editing workflow templates, but provides no way to archive a template and install it into a different repository.

The real challenge with our workflow implementation came when we tried to move workflow templates between development, staging, and production repositories.  Templates were successfully created in the development repository using the bundled Workflow Manager, however, the templates could not be added to an archive (DAR) and installed in another repository.  Previous versions of Composer, up through 6.5 SP2, allowed workflow templates to be imported, however, when using the latest release of Composer 6.6, we received an error message stating that the operation could not be performed because Process Engine, a component of BPM, was not installed in the repository.

Our client logged the following ticket with Documentum:

“Outside of Composer, is there any other way to install or create a new workflow template in Content Server 6.6 without Business Process Manager (BPM)?”

and the response was,

“Unfortunately, BPM is required when you install the DAR on the target repository, even if you are not planning to modify the workflow.”

With the addition of TaskSpace/Forms Builder/BPM suite (now part of the xCP bundle), the following BPM products augmented Documentum Workflow for a more robust solution:

  • Process Builder (New Designer and similar to Workflow Builder)
  • Forms Builder
  • Business Activity Monitor
  • Advanced Process Engine
  • and other tools….

Future Licensing Issue

The question our team raised was, “While we understand that the 6.6 release will have more built-in licensing requirements, why would basic Documentum workflow creation and archiving only be part of the BPM licensing?”  Our guess would be that, as Documentum moves away from Webtop to xCP and CenterStage, the “included” version of Documentum Workflow might not be available for existing customers since:

1)      xCP only works with the BPM purchase as part of a suite

2)      CenterStage doesn’t have workflow yet

We would think that as long as Webtop and other interfaces are supported, the free version of Documentum workflow should continue to be supported.  For new clients, we would expect that a BPM purchase would be part of their Documentum bundled solution.

Work Around

For our client, since the underlying workflow object and components exist in the repository without installing BPM, we were able to create our workflow templates via Java code rather than having to use Workflow Manager or Process Builder.  This process was repeatable across multiple repositories, eliminating the need to archive the workflow templates.  Clients upgrading to Content Server 6.6 from previous versions should understand that they will not be able to move their existing templates into new repositories unless they upgrade in place.  They would have to recreate the templates using Workflow Manager.

Another work around option would be to use a previous release of Documentum Composer (6.5 SP2) to archive and deploy workflow templates.  This version of Composer does not have the BPM dependency.  Beware, though, that there have been numerous changes to Composer between versions 6.5 SP2 and 6.6, so it’s not recommended to use the older version for more than just moving the templates.

Recommendations

For TSG, many of our clients leverage the “free” version of workflow as part of their current Webtop installation, DCM, or our Active Wizard suite.  In building in our workflow solution, we were really trying to augment Documentum workflow with additional functionality for dynamic forms and workflow.  For clients that have built similar solutions to augment Webtop or build their own workflows, TSG would recommend:

  • Confirm with Documentum Sales Representative that this solution is still supported with plans to support in the future.
  • Consider moving to full BPM suite or BPM alternative.  TSG is moving to support Documentum Workflow, BPM as well as JPBM/Apache Activity for open source alternatives.

9 thoughts on “Documentum Workflow Manager, BPM, and Licensing

  1. I have to disagree with your post, my first thought was, how could Workflow Manager be left out of the product and why should it be impossible to move a Worklfow Template from one repository to another…

    I just tried exporting a Workflow Template from a 6.5 installation to a Composer project and installing it to a 6.6 repository and it worked like it should be.

    The next point I tried was opening up the 6.6 Adminitrator and had a look at “File -> New -> Workflow Template” so the Workflow Manager is still in place.

    I don’t know what’s going on with your installation but as far as I can see everything is still in place and working.

    • Thanks for the feedback. After posting, I was able to get Workflow Manager to launch from Documentum Administrator, and I’ve updated my post accordingly. I’m still not able to archive and deploy workflow templates using the 6.6 version of Composer without having Process Engine installed in my repository. I discovered that rolling back to an older version of Composer (6.5 SP2) allowed me to get the templates installed.

  2. There’s a version of Application Builder, 5.3SP6.5, that was released just for these kinds of situations. For some things the old App Builder is better suited than Composer. I’m using this version of App Builder on D6.6 repositories too.

    I hope the new Unified development tool will bring us back to using just 1 tool and 1 simple deployment process soon.

  3. This is a known problem and we’re looking into a permanent fix. In the meantime, using Composer 6.5 SP2 is a supported workaround. I’m sorry if this wasn’t communicated to you by Support.

    The issue was documented in the Process Builder 6.6 Patch 7 Read Me:

    BPM-4946: Importing Workflow Templates with Composer when Process Engine is not installed.
    Composer 6.6 requires Process Engine to be installed in order to import process artifacts from a repository.
    The import operation would fail otherwise. In order to import process artifacts from a docbase that does not have Process Engine installed, use 6.5SP2 Composer and import the process artifacts separately in another DAR project. Use the Documentum Composer 6.6 or later, to install this DAR file.

    It is also documented in the Composer 6.7 Release Notes.

    The issue is not related to product licensing and there is no intention to require customers using workflow to upgrade to xCP. For a functional comparison between xCP/BPM and workflow, please refer to the support article http://powerlink.emc.com/km/live1/en_US/Offering_Technical/Technical_Documentation/xCP-BPM-workflow-comparison.xls

  4. Jerry,

    Thanks so much for your post – I think our question wasn’t so much for folks upgrading but more would the old Webtop workflow be available for new customers without purchasing xCP?

    We completely understand bundled pricing and how different each purchase might be for given buyers, especially the “all you can eat” enterprise sales.

    As a quick update – it was explained at EMC World that

    1) New Mobile iPad client would be free and open source
    2) Existing Webtop or CenterStage licenses would be transferable to new Unified Web Interface

    Both positive steps for existig clients in regards to licensing – you can read the recap here:

    http://blog.tsgrp.com/2011/05/13/documentum-and-momentum-emc-world-2011-%e2%80%93-recap/

    Dave

  5. I’m experiencing the same problem. Although I could export a process template using Composer 6.5 SP2 it wasn’t able to compile it. I just installed Process Engine 6.7 & can now export the process template OK using Composer 6.7.. which gives me a licensing problem now. I may try Sander’s suggestion of using AppBuilder – will the export attempt to pull in all dependencies (such as workflow methods, etc which would exist in related Composer projects)?

    • From my experience, importing an existing workflow template into a new DocApp in Application Builder does not attempt pull in any of the template’s dependencies. It only pulls in the template itself. I’m curious, what kind of compile errors were you seeing when you tried to export a template with composer 6.5 SP2?

  6. I just discovered that Workflow Manager cannot edit workflows that were exported to Composer 6.7 (via Process Engine) then deployed to a repository. I suspect that I’ll need to use Process Builder to edit it now.

    Btw a colleague was able to deploy the exported workflow to a repository that didn’t have Process Engine installed but.. it initially fails to deploy because it cannot find BPM images in the repository. Once you deploy these images then it deploys OK.

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