Tag Archives: Activiti

Improving the Kent Awards system

The positive pressure has continued for our iteration on the RMAS project, and has seen myself following on from looking at Spring Integration and going onto looking at Activiti – a Business Process Management System which comes with a light-weight API which we are looking at using to provide a solid and light-weight work flow engine.

One of the things that we are attempting to do as part of the project is not only make a significant contribution towards the RMAS project as a whole, but also improve the process for our own Research Services department.  With a workflow engine such as Activiti, we could potentially improve and automate sections of their currently manual workflows significantly.  As a starting point we have began looking at Awards system process and seeing what we can streamline and improve.

My role was firstly to look at how we can replace the paper-based ‘Announcement forms’ which are passed around the department for the different steps of an award process when a project is successful.  This gave myself opportunity to take a look at another new technology suggested by my peers called Backbone, which is sort of a Javascript based MVC and which supplies structure and ability to create JavaScript heavy applications.  The aim to create a sophisticated and easy to use replacement for the announcement forms (currently edited and printed from Excel and passed around internally).  In combination with this was investigating and making use of a Javascript based clinet-side templating engine called ICanHaz to hook into Backbone, which essentially consists of defining HTML within script tags with a particular id/name attached that you reference within your code.  A colleague made a very valid point that with the development of the form being done in this way, it was in fact application development more than web-based development being carried out, with no actual server based processing and everything done on the client side.

After getting to grips with the basics of Backbone and ICanHaz, my first task was to start thinking about how best to represent the varying different types of announcement forms (differing based on the awarding body), and I was able to separate out the common elements and get an initial awarding body template up and running (though not submitting yet) as a proof of concept.  Already in the early stages and through the use of autocompletes and field cloning, the benefits can be seen and i’m looking forward to moving onto the next step and hooking things up with the API being set up by my colleague which will hook up our forms with the Activiti workflow API.

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