IntroductionWeb Development

This article quickly details the steps you need to perform in order to enable support for the Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) in ASP.NET (classic or MVC). Let’s use a very small demo application to show you how you can do this.

Integrating WF in ASP.NET is something I had to do in the last few projects I worked on. So I thought I’d build a small sample application that shows you the bare minimum of code required in order to achieve this. Let’s build a sample application step by step…

Remark: This article is not a primer on WF. Some basic understanding of WF is required.

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Introduction

These last few weeks I have been reading Bruce Bukovics’ book about the Windows Workflow Foundation. If you are new to workflows I recommend getting this book. It discusses developing workflows in great length and contains many examples along the way. It is fun to read, isn’t too verbose and the code examples really help you get up to speed on the WF Foundation.

This article assumes that you already have a working knowlegde about workflows and in particular about using rules. Working with rules is one of the most interesting parts of the WF foundation. They offer you the ability to extract business logic from the workflow or activities (standard or custom). You can opt to put certain logic into one or more rules and group these rules into a set. Defining rules can be done with normal procedural code, but is usually done by using declarative conditions. Sets of rules are saved in a .rules file in Xml format. The sets you define are later evaluated and executed for you by the rules engine.

While these rule sets are normally part of a workflow, you can use this mechanism in other types of projects without having to compose a workflow in which these sets are contained. You can put the rules engine to use in a normal Windows Forms application for example and apply a set of rules against one of your custom type of objects. This allows you to seperate certain business logic from a class into rules. Since these rules are stored in a .rules file which you can store in a resource manager (assembly, database…etc.) of your choose this gives you the ability to changes the rules without the need to recompile your application. Pretty handy when your customer decides to change the business requirements.

This article demonstrates how to apply rules against a custom object in a normal Windows Forms application without the need to include a workflow. So let’s get started…

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