Authoring work is fun! Optimising and structuring content, modelling content management, refining the layout: this type of work is varied and absorbing. However, there are also recurring activities that are associated with many repeated steps, such as checking whether node contents have been changed. Or removing redundant comments, and adding taxonomy values to all nodes of a project. Whenever these or similar tasks come up, you find yourself wishing there was a way of eliminating some of these steps and getting the job done faster. With workflows in SCHEMA ST4, you can!
Signposting and navigation in workflows
When a task needs to be completed, there are usually several ways of getting to the end goal. This is no different in ST4 than, say, driving a car. However, the workflows in ST4 allow you – and colleagues – to be guided on the most efficient route, in much the same way as with a navigation system. The difference is that you can determine the diversions and alternative routes for your workflows yourself. This allows you to standardise the path to the goal. And where there is a standard, there are also further consolidation effects that bring an instant benefit! We will show you how this works in practice with some examples based on projects.
Some examples that may seem familiar to you
Example 1: Checking nodes for changes
A typical problem: you need to check whether nodes have changed since they were created. Normally, in ST4 you would now probably do the following for each node: open the “Comparison View” viewlet, drag the node to be checked into the relevant field, select the versions to be compared and confirm the comparison. So, it takes around 5 clicks for each node that needs checking. This is not necessarily particularly inconvenient, but when there are a lot of nodes to be checked, it all adds up and introduces the potential for error, such as selecting the wrong version for the comparison.
With an appropriately configured workflow, the procedure would look like this: You right-click on the node to be checked and select the relevant option from the context menu. That’s it. Everything else – opening the comparison view, selecting the relevant versions, the instant display of the comparison result – is done automatically by the workflow. The input required on the part of the user is just two clicks for each comparison. So, if you have 100 nodes to be checked … well, you do the maths!
Example 2: Deleting all content comments
Another case like this: a project is up to date on a preliminary basis, the documents have been published, but now a revision is required. To this end, you want to delete previous comments that are still contained in the nodes.
Normally, you would create (and confirm) a new version by right-clicking on the node, then go to Quick View and delete (and confirm) each comment in the node individually. That’s at least 5 clicks for a single comment. And, it only works for your own comments – you can’t delete comments from colleagues this way (further steps would be required to do this).
With an appropriately configured workflow, you could select the workflow from the node’s context menu, and all comments – not just your own – would then be instantly deleted. Here again, it just takes two clicks to complete the task and get the result you need.
Example 3: Sending an e-mail with node content
To send the content of a node by e-mail, you have to select the node and manually copy & paste its content into an e-mail, enter the addressee data, subject and undoubtedly add a brief explanation – if we assume at least 10 clicks, it would hardly be overstating it.
Here too, a workflow could be used. In this case, you would: right-click on the node, select the workflow, select a recipient address from a list of project participants and send it off. It’s all done in a matter of 4 to 5 clicks. A standardised subject and a short, explanatory e-mail text is automatically added to the e-mail and there’s no need even to switch from the content management system to your e-mail program! This is particularly useful where you regularly need to perform this type of task. To this end, new functionality not previously available has now been added to ST4.
Example 4: Labelling nodes with taxonomy values
Tasks like this one can be quite tedious and time-consuming: taxonomy values (or other metadata) need to be added to the nodes in a project at a later date. To do this, you would normally edit each node in the project individually, i.e. select it, jump to the original node, create a new version where appropriate, search for the taxonomy node and drag it to the target node – even if we assume just a small example project, we are soon talking about 60 plus clicks.
Using an appropriately configured workflow, you just click on the higher-level node, start the workflow, select the relevant value from the taxonomy and confirm the action – and the taxonomy label is applied to all subordinate nodes. The task can be completed in just 6 clicks.
How do workflows work?
To be able to use the workflows as illustrated in the examples, they need to be set up and configured. How it works:
- SCHEMA ST4 comes with pre-defined model workflows. You can then adapt these to your needs using the ST4 Workflow Designer.
- You define your own workflows by combining ready-made scripts to create commands and, in this way, determine the type and sequence of the program functions and processes used.
These basic but wide-ranging functions are available to you in Workflow Designer. All the examples shown here work on this basis! Together with the Workflow Automation Library, other additional scripts provide even greater functionality and more options for configuration. For example, these additional scripts let you:
- produce and then send a file by e-mail in just one step straight from SCHEMA ST4,
- generate and send a Schematron report, or
- produce multilingual texts, i.e. create several documents in different languages (using a menu option) without having to create and configure a separate document for each language.
- You can also access a TMS export, Excel or ST import, or HTTP requests in order to address other systems.
You can even create your own scripts with Workflow Framework.
The model workflows described above are included in SCHEMA ST4 as standard. We are also adding to and further refining the workflows. As a result, new ST4 releases will usually include new or improved model workflows that you can then import and use for yourself!
Are you still click-click-clicking, or going with the flow?
We have done our own calculations on the examples above and reckon on an average saving in clicks of more than 80%! Fewer clicks, which means: less effort spent on a specific task; less risk of clicking the wrong thing and introducing errors; and, last but not least, a big saving in time. Not only that, when procedures are standardised by a workflow the process is always uniform and it means everyone is doing the same thing. You can then use the time saved for other, more demanding and non-automatable tasks!
We would like to conclude by sharing a particularly impressive result from our customer Fresenius Medical Care: they have to produce three documents in up to 35 languages on a regular basis. Normally, this would take around 1600 clicks. Using a workflow, the customer has managed to reduce input by the user to just 30 to 65 clicks in total (depending on the number of languages). And, there is the potential to reduce it even further! Why not let us see if we can do something equally impressive for you!