You might have already noticed that in our blog posts about the tcworld conference, we always save the reveal of our biggest new features until last. Last year we introduced you to the project configurator, a component for automatically compiling publications. This year, automation in ST4 is once again the focus – specifically the automation of your authoring workflows.
A completely redesigned workflow engine is the key innovation of ST4 2018. The centrepiece is the Workflow Designer, with which you can create custom workflows even if you don’t have any prior knowledge of programming. ST4 can automate individual tasks, or even whole sequences of tasks, so that you can handle jobs with maximum efficiency. Things that had to be done manually in the past can now be completely taken care of by ST4, bringing more efficiency, transparency and safety into your work processes.
The same as before, only more flexible and powerful
If you currently use ST4, then of course you already know that our content management system supporting workflows is nothing new. A set of predefined workflows has been part of the basic configuration for a long time. Aside from standard release statuses like “In Review” or “Approved”, the workflows in ST4 give you the option to allocate people specific tasks or assign them to a multistage approval process.
There has also always been the option to go beyond this set of predefined workflows and map out your own processes with custom workflows. But that required programming. This is precisely what’s changed in the new workflow engine – which can vastly expand your design scope as well.
Of course, the existing standard workflows will remain a part of ST4 2018. They will be brought up to date on a technical front, but they will function basically the same.
Workflow Designer – the control centre
How does the new workflow engine work? And how do you work with it?
The main hub for designing your own workflow is the configuration tool, the Workflow Designer. The same team that developed the Page Layout Designer and Online Media Designer has incorporated the operating concept behind both of these successful solutions into the Workflow Designer. You design your workflows as flow charts in a graphical interface, making the Workflow Designer easy to get to grips with and existing workflows easier to understand.
You can determine exactly what should happen at each stage of a workflow; the new workflow engine goes far beyond the traditional definition of sequences.
One particularly useful feature is that the Workflow Designer automatically brings up the appropriate dialogue window for each step of the workflow. What’s more, this not only functions in the Windows client, but also in the web client.Â This gives you the option to design interdepartmental workflows and assign work steps to colleagues who would otherwise have nothing to do with ST4.
During a workflow, as well as entering data, ST4 can also apply automatically calculated parameters and default data to further workflow steps.
Here’s a simple example: upon completion of a work step, ST4 automatically assigns a node to the user who is marked as responsible for it in the metadata. Automated procedures like this could also conceivably be used in translation management, as ST4 can automatically create a TMS export for a predefined set of target languages once the source language text has received final approval. Other application areas could include publishing, as ST4 can set processes in motion on the basis of metadata and release statuses, without any assistance from the user.
No programming thanks to the Workflow Automation Library
Complex scenarios like the ones just described can be put into practice with the Workflow Designer even if you don’t have any programming knowledge. You simply choose the appropriate scripts from the Workflow Automation Library in the Workflow Designer.
Scripts can also be combined, so “Approve” and “Publish” can become the automated procedure “Approve and publish”.
Scripts can be adapted to your needs too! If you are using one or more scripts from the Workflow Automation Library in the Workflow Designer, you can alter these through commands, so that, during the “Publish” script for example, specific metadata or parameters will be automatically requested, allowing the publication process to begin without any human intervention. The same “Publish” script could also be altered with a command so that when it is executed, the user will be asked for information at specific intervals. Commands make scripts in your workflows as interactive, automated or exact as you like.
Incorporate in-house automated procedures
With our Workflow Library, even more automation options are available. The Workflow Framework can be used to develop your own scripts and incorporate them into the ST4 Workflow Designer with the help of the ST4-SDK.
This means you have the option to implement automation scenarios that have been developed from your specific processes and system landscapes. For example, after publishing an approved document, the PDF file is automatically filed in your company’s archive system.
Discover more first-hand
Do you like the sound of configurable workflows for you and your team? Then come along to our stand at the tekom conference. You can see the Workflow Designer in action in the Blue Box on all three days of the conference. We’d also be delighted to have a one-to-one discussion with you.
Everything’s running like clockwork! Automating processes with the ST4 Workflow Designer
Tues, Weds, Thurs at 12.15pm – 1.00pm
BlueBox on the SCHEMA-Stand (Hall 2, Stand C07)