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Building Workflows in Adobe CQ5 by:

July 7th, 2011

While developing websites and web apps is never an easy proposition, some parts of the process are getting easier and fulfill the promise of next generation platforms that trumpet easier application development. I have always been dubious about these claims, and the Adobe CQ5 Web Experience Platform defiantly offers up some challenges to even the most seasoned developers. Yet one aspect I have found really easy was building basic, but highly relevant and useful workflows.

I thought a step-by-step guide to building a workflow could benefit all developers using Adobe’s new suite of applications.

  1. Log into the CQ5 server as a user authorized to create and edit workflows
  2. Click on the workflows link in the white box
  3.  From the models tab, click on ‘new’ and give your new workflow a name.

A new window will pop up with the workflow editor. It looks like this:

The next step is to define a participant step that represents the content editor who is starting the workflow after editing or creating content. This first step is a ‘Workflow Initiator Participant Chooser’ and looks like this:

These are the properties of the workflow initiator you just created:

Once you have created a workflow initiator you could have the workflow go directly to an approver or you could define a more complex approval process, while keeping it simple to implement. For example, let’s say that your content editor needs to have his or her work approved by their manager, the legal department and the marketing department. All we need to do to facilitate this is drag ‘And Split’ from the Workflow menu onto the canvas.

  1. Double click the ‘And Split’
  2. Select 3 branches
  3. Click ‘OK’ to accommodate all of your approvers

Now add the approvers to the 3 new slots on the canvas. Those approvers are represented as ‘Participant Steps’. For each Participant step you will need to define a user or group of users to conduct the action required. Each user or group of users identified for a workflow step will receive an email notice when action is required, if the ‘Notify user by email’ checkbox is selected.

As seen above, I have set a 24 hour timeout and the ‘Send Email’ as the ‘Timeout Handler.’ There dozens of other stock handlers, but your developers can obviously script something custom as well.

Now that we have added a couple of parallel approvers (which incidentally could also be organized in a sequential structure, but I figured that was obvious and didn’t show off as much of CQ5’s workflow capability), this is what our workflow looks:

Some organizations will add another approver at the end of the ‘And Split’ but for simplicity’s sake, let’s start wrapping this thing up. First we will version our content modification and then publish it. CQ5’s workflows come with versioning and publishing steps as built in functionality.

From the ‘WCM Workflow’ menu in Sidekick I added a ‘Create Version’ step and an ‘Activate Page’ step to complete the workflow. Don’t forget to save your work by clicking save in the upper left corner of the workflow editor. Now let’s have a quick look at how to use this workflow and what the notifications look like.

The content editor is done making their changes. Now they need to:

  1. Go to the workflow tab Sidekick
  2. Select a workflow and click the Start Workflow button
  3. For workflow approvers, Sidekick will look like the image below if they are in the workflow tab

The options available are to ‘Complete’ (approve), ‘Step Back’ (reject) or delegate the workflow approval to another user.

Workflow approvers get to the page they are trying to review by going to the CQ5 inbox which is accessible from the main page once a user logs into CQ5. The inbox looks like your standard email inbox. A double click on the row will launch the page to be reviewed.

There it is: a workflow you could create in less time than it took me to type this blog post.

As always, feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll respond promptly.

Tags: Content Management, Technical, , , , ,

3 Comments on “Building Workflows in Adobe CQ5”

  1. Frank says:

    Hi Ross, thank you for this explanation! Especially the AND split is not so obvious, but very handy.

    This approval could be easily bypassed, if the editor didn’t start your workflow at all. What means, that the editor can request approval but didn’t have to. Seems a little bit weak to me.

  2. Ross Raphael says:

    Frank, there is no way for an author to edit content and get that updated content from the authoring instance of CQ5 to the publishing instance without using a workflow. A CQ5 administrator has the tools to do so, but even then, those are really only used when migrating content in a development or testing environment or perhaps initially when first setting up a production environment. I am sorry if that wasn’t clear. It is possible to create a workflow that doesn’t require any approval by a superior or reviewer. While I could see a business case for this kind of workflow, that would run counter to most applications of a working environment in CQ5.

  3. […] CQ5 for awhile now and, I have to say,  I’m a huge fan (just check out my last blog on Building Workflows).  Here, I’ve recorded a step-by-step guide to building Components in Adobe CQ5.  My hope […]

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