Double, Triple Check - Moving workflows from test to production
By Kyle Knebel
March 2022 Consultant’s Corner:
For this Month’s Consultant’s Corner, we are going to dive into Laserfiche Workflow and how you can take your workflows from a test environment to production. We will also highlight some best practices to follow when designing and testing your workflow to help minimize errors as safely and securely as possible while hopefully saving you time.
To start, Laserfiche Workflow is an automation engine that can integrate with one or more repositories in your Laserfiche Environment. If you have Laserfiche RIO licensing, allowing up to 1000 repositories, you can use these workflows across your entire Laserfiche Environment. With so much space, you can create “test” repositories in which you design your folder structure, metadata, and workflows before putting them into Company use.
Over the years, our CDI Consultants have developed highly effective and safe procedures to be used as you build, test, and migrate your workflow from a test environment to production. These best practices are tips that we use daily, so we hope you find the information below helpful.
Now let’s dive in, shall we?
Connection Profiles and the Workflow User
First, a workflow must always have a “Connection Profile.” This profile connects the workflow that you are building to one or more repositories in which the workflow will interact.
Our Best Practice Tip for setting up your “Connection Profile” account is to create a repository or LFDS non-named user. By doing this, you will forgo the need to use a Full Named license to run workflows. In a sense, when you use this account in the “Connection Profile,” it will function as if it were a Full Named User.
Then we create an account called “WF” or “WFAgent.”
NOTE: Names can vary depending on your preference.
Next, you fill in the Name and Password fields in the “Workflow Profile Manager.” You can see this displayed in the image below.
When reconfiguring the workflow from your test environment to production, you will want to change the “Connection Profile” to connect to the production repository. If you already have a profile for that repository, navigate to your list of profiles and select the Copy from option.
If a production profile does not exist, create a new profile by clicking on the Manage Connections link.
Here you will define the Laserfiche server, repository name, and workflow user account (for example, see the image above). Once you have these fields filled out, select Validate.
Our Best Practice Tip is to create a “Common Profile,” which can be used by all Windows users on this workstation/server.
An example of the “Profile Manager” is shown below. Here you can create, edit, and remove profiles.
If provided a workflow from an outside source, such as when you ask us here at CDI to build you a workflow, we will then send you the exported WFI file. This self-contained workflow import file will contain both the start rules and the workflow itself. In these situations, you will definitely want to change the “Connection Profile” and review the start rules to match your repository.
Permissions and Access Rights
Make sure to set your security or access rights on all the folders in the repository that you want your workflow to interact.
For example, using our “WF” profile, you will give the “WF” account all access rights from the root level. If some folders show “Inheritance” as disabled, you will need to apply this account to those folders, if applicable. You can see this done in the image below.
Workflow Metadata (fields and templates)
Since workflows are most used in conjunction with fields and templates, our Best Practice Tip is to verify that the same metadata is found in both the test and the production repositories. If the metadata does not yet exist in the production repository, you can use a Laserfiche Briefcase to easily import the new template or fields into the production repository.
In the test repository, you will just need to assign the template and the individual fields to a document and then export it as a Briefcase.
When importing the Briefcase to the production repository, you will be directed to step through the import wizard. The wizard will help you add the new fields and template to your production repository. You can see this displayed in the images below.
Now that the same metadata is in the production repository, your production workflow will be able to satisfy any start rules. Now, any activities that rely on metadata for conditions or retrieved values will function correctly within the workflow itself.
Workflow Start Rules
Tell Laserfiche Workflow to ignore the WF user account
A hard-earned Best Practice Tip is to always (Ok, 98% of the time) add a condition in your start rules telling your workflow to ignore any actions made by the “WF” account in the repository (User, does not equal, WF). This will prevent the workflow from being accidentally triggered by another workflow that may be designed in the future.
Verify all start rules match the production repository.
Always review the start rules that are in place to determine if the paths, metadata, users, and other conditions match the production environment.
As a reminder, it is important to exclude the “WF” user from starting workflows. As you can tell, this is a practice to make a habit out of as it will save you from possible endless workflow loops.
Workflow: Saving a Backup
Once your workflow is in place and running smoothly in your live production environment, our Best Practice Tip is to backup your workflow. Now, if you’re backing up the Workflow server and its SQL databases nightly, then this step is not necessary.
We also recommend that you export your workflows in WFI file format. An exported workflow contains both the start rules and the workflow in one file, so exporting is also recommended when you are about to make changes to your existing workflow. Just in case you need to go back to a working copy to start fresh.
To start your backup, you can right-click on a single workflow listed in the “Rule Manager” to export.
You can even export several workflows at once. However, if you chose to export more than one at a single time there is an added step. You will need to navigate to the bottom of the “Export Workflows” dialog box. Select the empty box located to the left of “Create a separate .wfi file...” This will ensure a new WFI file is created for every workflow. If this step is missed, all the workflows selected will be included in one WFI file.
NOTE: Since On-Premises workflows are not compatible with Cloud, if you are moving to a Cloud system, you will need to rebuild the process within your new system.
We hope that taking into consideration our Best Practice Tips can save you time, energy, and hopefully unnecessary frustration. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this article, so please comment below on what you found most helpful and let us know if you have any lingering workflow questions.
We hope you found this article interesting and will find a way to put some of these ideas into use in the near future!
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