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Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday wishes for 2015

May this Christmas bring happiness and joy to you and your loved ones and may the New Year be full of prosperity. All the best in 2015!


Monday, December 1, 2014

Datapolis Guest Webinar: Must-Have SharePoint Workflows with Vlad Catrinescu




Save time tomorrow 10am EST (that's 4pmm CET for you, Europe) for a guest webinar session with SharePoint MVP Vlad Catrinescu: "Must-have SharePoint workflows".

Process automation is one of the most wanted benefits that SharePoint offers. In this session we will look at three must have workflows for SharePoint by using SharePoint Designer as well as a lot of useful tips and tricks that can be used in any SharePoint 2010 & SharePoint 2013 workflows.

Agenda

During this webinar you will learn how to:
- Improve business processes with workflow logic
- Select the workflow which meets your process requirements
- Choose between SharePoint Designer and other solutions depending on your needs

Duration: 60 minutes

Speaker

Vlad Catrinescu is a SharePoint Consultant with more than 5 years in IT specializing in analyzing and deploying your perfect SharePoint infrastructure. He is currently working as a President and Senior Consultant at his own company: vNext Solutions. Vlad is currently the youngest SharePoint MVP in the world and is known in the community for his technical abilities and for founding the biggest and most active SharePoint Community that you can find at www.SharePoint-Community.net. Vlad also has his own blog at http://www.absolute-sharepoint.com and he often shares his knowledge by speaking at local conferences and community events.

Register HERE.



Monday, November 17, 2014

Next Datapolis Guest Expert webinar...

... comes up in early December. We secured a really great name from the SharePoint community, so stay tuned for more details in the coming days.

Right now we can announce the topic which will be:

"Three must-have SharePoint workflows"


Stay with us for next announcements about this webinar and the ways how can you improve your workflows in SharePoint.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Guest Expert Webinar: Limitations of SharePoint Designer


Watch the recording of Datapolis' first Guest Expert Webinar, "Limitations of SharePoint Designer", featuring Bjoern Harald Rapp. This is the first of the series of webinars to which we invited SharePoint MVPs and community leaders to ask them about various issues of workflow design and process management in SharePoint.



Agenda
During watching this webinar you will learn how to:

- Improve processes with workflow logic

- Select the type of workflow which works the best for your process

- Use Visual Studio to create custom workflows for large-scale complex processes

- Choose SharePoint Designer, Visual Studio or 3rd party solutions depending on your needs

Bjoern H. Rapp
Speaker
Bjoern H. Rapp is Senior Software Engineer at Steria Norge, Microsoft SharePoint MVP, and the author of the book "Beginning SharePoint 2013 Workflows" . In his native Norway he is a leading figure of the local SharePoint community, organizing such events as SharePoint Saturday Oslo. Visit his blog: SharePointViking.com

Monday, September 22, 2014

Datapolis Process System 4.1 release webinar

Join us for a live webinar on Thursday, September 25 to learn about new features of Datapolis Process System and discover how it can improve process management in your enterprise.
This webinar led by our product architect Tomasz Głogosz will focus on new Datapolis functionalities, including:

✓ Substitutions management
✓ Timer jobs control
✓ Application launch conditions
✓ Improved user experience for solutions and applications

This is your chance to learn first and ask questions about new features of our workflow solution. You won't want to miss it.

Register for the webinar HERE.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Datapolis Process System 4.1 is here

Today we released the new improved version of our solution. Datapolis Process System 4.1 includes a substitution feature, improved timer jobs, and is accompanied by the free Datapolis Tasks Application.

You can read the press release in PDF HERE:

Below is the list of changes present in the new release:

USER SUBSTITUTIONS

New functionality enables the process manager to set up individuals or groups who can substitute for other persons in the workflow. The Substitution lets you define who, where (in which workflows, sites, lists, etc.) and when the substitution will be active. When a user acts as a substitute for another process participant, he or she can launch the prescribed actions on their behalf.

TIMER JOBS CONTROL

Datapolis Timer Jobs can now be set-up using Central Administration allowing the administrator define how many jobs can run simultaneously and designate jobs to run on one or more servers at a scheduled time. You can also set up parameters relevant to given jobs so, for example, define the time after which a workflow history is removed.

APPLICATION LAUNCH CONDITIONS

Process designers can define additional conditions which have to be met to run an application when the workflow enters a particular state.

APPLICATION CUSTOM PARAMETERS

A new option in the Object Model allows for custom parameters in application classes. Dynamically loaded parameters are displayed on the application view page available from Central Administration.

API FOR SOLUTIONS AND APPLICATIONS

Datapolis solutions and applications can now be managed with an API available through the web service for any 3rd party applications. The API supports REST and JSON.

SOLUTIONS AND APPLICATIONS USER EXPERIENCE

Redesigned forms with the new functionality of site workflows makes it even easier to develop and use Solutions and Applications. Among others, the “Share as Application form”, “Applications in State form”, and the Central Administration site have been improved.

You can download the 30-day free trial of Datapolis Process System HERE.

Friday, August 22, 2014

New Datapolis review by ITUnity

Datapolis Process System features once again on ITUnity, a new SharePoint portal for the SP community worldwide. This time our solution was approached from the technical side as a SharePoint add-on to simplify business workflows. The technical review includes a product description with solution requirements, SDK analysis, and links to resources for interested parties.

You can read the review on ITUnity's website HERE.

The review's author Karl Sand is an executive-level technologist and solutions architect with extensive management experience focused on collaboration technologies, unified communications, custom application development, and solution deployment / adoption. Karl has presented at multiple SharePoint Saturday events and continues his passion of testing and analysis of cloud-based technologies and service offerings from enterprise vendors.

We also encourage you to read the previous review of Datapolis Process System HERE. This business-oriented presentation shows Datapolis business value and provides details on its position on the market.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Datapolis Workbox 2010 hot fix

The new release of Datapolis Workbox 2010 is available for download. This product is a hot fix release which includes fixes for some issues encountered by users. Below is the list of issues solved in the new release of Datapolis Workbox.

- Self Timers don't work in specific cases
- Problems with automatic activation of Datapolis license
- Minor fixes in Datapolis licensing
- Minor language fixes in Central Administration Site
- In some cases licensing page shows CAL count less than desired
- Performance issue when providing large paremeters in functions
- In specific cases workflow actions are not visible to the user, causing a workflow to halt
- Second click on Form Fields Values in history causes error
- Support for parent content type ID in Add Items
- Unhandled exception when trying to start in code same workflow on same item twice in same time
- Performance issue getting workflow end time (in WBInterface)
- To much information on Launch Action Form and Start Worfklow Form while launching/starting. Forms were simplified.
- Errors when using bulk launch and actions have the same names.
- A number of other issues has been resolved.

You can download Datapolis Workbox 2.3.20.1500 (as a 30-day trial) HERE.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Datapolis Process System new intro video

Watch the new video introduction to Datapolis Process System and see how to develop SharePoint workflows into a coherent system. In this short animation you can check how our solution helps model, implement and evolve processes in your SharePoint environment as well as simplify complex processes and organize them into one clear network.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Datapolis features on ITUnity

Back from the summer holidays with some good news :)

Datapolis was reached by ITUnity, a new portal for the SharePoint community (it is just a few months old and already looks impressive, so you should definitely check it out) which is looking for new valuable SP solutions. We talked to its editor in chief Karen Forster introducing her to the product and providing details on its value proposition and position in the market. We received some very nice words about our proposal - thank you Karen :) Now you can read a product overview of Datapolis Process System on ITUnity's website and a more detailed review is coming soon.

The overview (together with a rich set of links to samples and case studies) is available HERE.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Datapolis Academy: Create application inside workflows

Watch the latest part of our Datapolis Academy tutorial series, and the first one based on our new solution Datapolis Process System. In previous videos, we created an approval workflow with simple business logic, user forms, permission settings, and notification activities. This time we will demonstrate how to include a Datapolis application inside a workflow, making process creation easier, faster and more comfortable.

In this video you will see: 


  • What is a Datapolis application. 
  • How to put an application inside a workflow. 
  • Where to define a data flow between the workflow and the application. 
  • How to set up application launch conditions.


Questions? Comments? Let us know!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Datapolis on Mai Omar Desouki's blog

Click here to read the description of Datapolis Process System on the blog by Mai Omar Desouki. Mai is an avid SharePointer, working now as a senior SharePoint administrator at Vodafone Egypt, and the founder of Dubai SharePoint User Group. Thank you, Mai!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Datapolis on the Belarus SPUG meet-up



Belarus SharePoint User Group will show Datapolis Process System on its next meet-up about workflows in SharePoint 2013. The meeting takes place this Thursday, June 19 in Imaguru, Minsk.

The agenda is the following:
- @7pm - "Microsoft Certification: deep dive", Dmitry RogozhnyNatalya Makarevich
- Coffee Break
- @8.15pm - "SharePoint Workflows 2013. What's new?", Sergei Leshchenko. - that's us :)

You can get more details on Belarus SPUG Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bel.spug/

We expect a great presentation tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Datapolis Process System hot fix

The new release of Datapolis Process System is now available for download. This product is a hot fix release which includes fixes for common issues:

- Self Timers don't work in specific cases
- Problems with automatic activation of Datapolis license
- Number of check-in/check-out problems in Workflow Designer
- No history of activities that were started after application finishes in history page
- SharePoint group disappears when an user adds it to Workflow Editors
- Workflow Editor disappears after product license upgrade
- Number of Datapolis Applications permissions issues
- Incorrect titles in Central Administration Sites
- In specific cases showing less CALs that in license

You can download Datapolis Process System 4.0.6.3828 (as a 30-day trial) HERE.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Datapolis webinar: Process improvement with SharePoint workflows

Join Datapolis and Kay Wise for a live webinar on May 28th and 29th to learn how to improve business processes with SharePoint workflow logic.

Our guest speaker shares secrets learned over a lifetime of designing, implementing and improving business processes for SharePoint. Watch the webinar and learn how to implement SharePoint workflows that fit almost every process and each participant.

The webinar takes place at:
Wednesday,May 28, 2.00 pm EDT (11.00 am PDT, 8.00 am CEST) - REGISTER 
Thursday, May 29 , 9.00 am EDT (6.00 am PDT, 3.00 pm CEST) - REGISTER

Agenda: 


During this webinar you will learn how to:
 ✓ Improve processes with workflow logic
 ✓ Translate improved processes to SharePoint environment
 ✓ Choose the type of workflow which works the best for your process
 ✓ Organize SharePoint workflows into a coherent process system

Speaker: 


Kay Wise, Principal of Wise Choice Consulting Co. Kay's professional experience includes program management for the American National Red Cross, semantic network research at Creighton University, designing management information systems for Applied Communications Inc., managing ERP and SEPG teams for First Data Corp, and designing SharePoint systems with Datapolis Workbox for Dubai Consultancy Research & Media Centre (b'huth). In 2013 she returned to Omaha to live and work, continuing to write and consult on business systems and process improvement.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Datapolis Process System press release: Create applications from workflows in SharePoint 2013

(Warsaw, April 14, 2014)

A new product unlocks advanced workflow capabilities in SharePoint 2013 to ease the job of administering complex systems.

Datapolis Process System is now available for purchase, following its debut in Las Vegas at Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2014, to create and deploy workflows, convert them into applications that can run independently or inside other workflows with central administration to simplify management and permissions while revealing statistics on usage and timing.

Paweł Bujak, Datapolis President: “When designing the new system we paid special attention to some issues that are relevant for SharePoint process engineers. Large organizations often use many dispersed workflows containing the same sub-processes, like invoicing, expenses, claims or legal statements. That’s why we decided to expand Datapolis Workbox and launch a new product. Engineers can modify only one application to implement changes everywhere it was used, keeping processes coherent and up-to-date.”

Datapolis Process System provides complete functionality to model, implement, manage, and evolve process driven applications in SharePoint. A readable drag & drop process designer, a simple forms builder and central administration allow administrators to build and manage workflows, set up clear permission structures and monitor workflow performance.

Solution providers will benefit from Datapolis development platform allowing them to build custom solutions. The licensing model will grant them rights to release solutions independently on a commercial basis.
Datapolis Process System is available in two editions: The “Workflow edition” supports existing applications, while the “Application & Workflow edition” enables building new ones and offers extended administration options.

For convenience, Datapolis prepared an online test site, a hosted SharePoint environment allowing registrants to test and deploy Datapolis Process System workflows free of charge. With up to five user accounts and no time limit, anyone interested in Datapolis Process System can assess its capabilities. A fully functional 30-day trial version is also available. More information can be found on www.datapolis.com.

About Datapolis

Datapolis develops user-friendly and flexible solutions for SharePoint environments which support dynamic processes, information and document flows in medium and large enterprises. Since its inception in 2001 the company has focused on strategic cooperation with Microsoft and is at the moment Microsoft Gold Partner in Application Development , Collaboration and Content and Communications. Datapolis is a member of Passus Group, a leading IT product and services company from Poland employing over 100 engineers and specialists.

Over 100 enterprises worldwide use our solutions. Among them are:, ThyssenKrupp Steel USA, Advantage Bank, Tyco International, TIM Mobile, Burger King, Dana Corp, DARPA, GridPoint, Los Angeles World Airports, Microsoft, North American Interconnect, SRA International, and The United States House of Representatives.

For more information contact Maciej Józefowicz at maciej.jozefowicz[at]datapolis.com.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Datapolis sponsors SharePoint Omaha User Group

Datapolis sponsors the April meeting of SharePoint Omaha User Group this Thursday, April 3rd. We invite all the SP users in Omaha area to come to Bluecross Blueshield at 11.30 AM, meet the community and learn a few new things about workflows and our solutions. Our partner Kay Wise will be there to have a presentation about SharePoint workflows and how to use them in process improvement. You can find more details here.

Topic : Process Improvement through Workflows: Connect the click points.

Consider real-life customer complaints facing a telecom company and imagine how to improve their order entry and fulfillment process using SharePoint workflows. See how data flow diagrams and workflow diagrams can improve communication with process participants. With a focus on design considerations and using workflows for more than just approvals, the presentation will describe a simple workflow for the telecom company and two more complex running workflows: one for simultaneous posting of content in two languages to an internet site and another to coordinate a publishing process.

Speaker : Kay Wise

Kay Wise has been processing information since she added page numbers to her Mother Goose book and indexed her favorite nursery rhymes. But her education in the field started at age 35 when she spent seven years assisting with an artificial intelligence project at Creighton. In 1982 at ACI, Kay designed and helped develop a relational database, client-server programs, and internal processes for software management, cost accounting, and billing. In 1989 Kay opened The Wise Choice Consulting Co. where her clients included the City of Omaha, and where she volunteered as chair of Infotec. In 1992 she joined First Data where she was promoted to Director of Financial Systems and later Director of the Software Engineering Process Group. Between 2001 and 2008, Kay retired to teach time management and project management, volunteer with the League of Women Voters, write about Positive Politics, and paint landscapes in oil and acrylic. During this period she also installed and ran SharePoint 2003 on an old laptop.

In 2006 Kay’s husband, Kenneth was asked to come to Dubai to organize a think tank, called Dubai Consulting Research & Media Center, (b’huth). Kay convinced management there that they needed SharePoint and workflows. She designed internal processes and organized teams to produce daily, weekly and quarterly research reports. Researchers, writers and translators, most working from home in a half dozen different countries, use SharePoint to coordinate their contributions to various publications. Having worked with Datapolis for workflows at b’huth and impressed by the company, Kay offered to edit English and provide local representation for Datapolis after she returned to Omaha in the summer of 2013.

Kay’s formal education includes a bachelor's degree summa cum laude in English, history, and education, and a master’s degree in history with subsequent coursework in psychology, computer science and fine art. She is also trained in project management, the Weinberg school of Quality Software Development, the Software CMM, and Six Sigma.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Datapolis Process System release notes

Datapolis Process System includes everything you need to model, implement, manage and evolve process - driven applications in SharePoint. With Datapolis Process System you can simplify complex processes and organize all your workflows into a coherent system. Visit www.datapolis.com to learn more.

Datapolis Process System replaces Datapolis Workbox 2013 and is available in two editions, the “Workflow edition” or the “Application & Workflow edition”.  Both introduce new functionality while remaining backward compatible with Workbox.  Visit www.datapolis.com to learn more.

What’s new in Datapolis Process System?

SOLUTION AND APPLICATION FUNCTIONS:

Unique to Datapolis Process System are Datapolis Applications, stand-alone objects which perform a series of sub-processes or activities that can reach beyond standard workflow functions.  Datapolis Applications can be grouped into solutions to unify a complex process or pull together data from disparate sources.


  • Transform Workflows into Applications*
  • Package Applications into Solutions* 
  • Associate an existing application with a workflow state.


ADMINISTRATION COMPONENTS:

Solutions and Applications Management

  • Lists all available solutions and applications and deploys them from available templates. The administrator defines who can use each solution and on which site collection. 

Datapolis Process System Workflow Edit Permissions*

  • Sets up permissions to create and edit workflows. The administrator can specify the site collections on which a workflow definition can be deployed or modified and which users or teams can do so.

Performance Monitor*

  • Collects data and generates system performance reports including duration of selected workflows with details, average deployment times, etc.


MY TASKS:

Web Part that lists workflows and actions assigned to the current user.

WORKFLOW DESIGNER (FORMERLY DATAPOLIS WORKBOX 2013):

Custom controls

  • Accepts custom developed controls in Launch Action and Launch Workflow forms.

New out-of-the-box activities:

  • Replace Text in .docx Document
  • Find Text in .docx Document.
  • Get .xlsx Spreadsheet Cell Values
  • Set .xlsx Spreadsheet Cell Values
  • Copy Items – Copy DocumentSet added
  • Move Items


*Application and Workflow edition only

Monday, March 31, 2014

Datapolis Process System features: Central Administration

Datapolis Central Administration lets you manage, monitor and tune a complex process system from within SharePoint. Simplify security, increase workflow performance, monitor thru-put, reduce errors and control maintenance changes from a central location.



Single list to control all workflows across the farm 


Thanks to workflow management, authorized staff can access all workflows from a single list. The list panel lets administrators deploy a new version or restore a previous version of any workflow at any time. The list view also displays useful information such as which workflows are in use and how many instances are running. With view security, users can check workflow definition diagrams and details directly from the administration panel.

Application management to keep order in the system 


The application management module lists all available applications, grouped as solutions. An administrator defines who can use each solution in process diagrams and where within SharePoint each may be used. Application management significantly increases security and reduces unintended changes by clarifying complex systems with many DPS applications.

Workflow maintenance permissions structure 


Each workflow definition within the Datapolis Process System is governed by a set of permissions. The administrator can specify the SharePoint sites on which a workflow definition can be deployed or modified and by which users or teams. Three permission levels – Farm, Site Collection and Web level, provide control over critical processes while reducing the risk that unauthorized development could pose.

Performance monitoring diagnostics 


The diagnostics module can collect data and logs from across any activities within any workflow. IT pros can create diagnostic reports and machine data for troubleshooting issues and supporting broader process objectives. The workflow management capability includes graphs and other visual tools to help manage simple or complex process systems effectively and efficiently.

Read more about Datapolis Process System HERE.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Datapolis Process System features: Applications

Datapolis Process System lets you convert workflows into DPS apps, stand-alone objects that may be used inside other workflows and by external solutions. Multiple processes can be managed from a single repository. DPS Application repositories help simplify and organize the process system, support process improvement, control changes, and accelerate acceptance, bringing order to the workflow system and the whole SharePoint environment.


Pull together common processes into a single repository

Use DPS Applications to combine generic processes and procedures such as booking a conference room or purchasing fixed assets then use them in workflows distributed throughout your organization. Modify only one application to implement changes in workflows and keep your process system coherent.

Simplify complex workflows by using manageable applications 

Divide complex workflows into a single top-level process diagram with multiple DPS Applications, each app reflecting a sub process or a group of tasks. Dividing a single process into multiple apps allows development teams to deliver quickly while facilitating maintenance long term.

Parallel sub-processes 

Design a workflow process to include DPS Applications that can be executed in parallel. Keep the workflow schema clear while allowing different sub-processes to be executed at the same time.

Automatically execute and handle multiple processes

Create workflows which enable multiple threads to execute a single sub-process at the same time. Grab and use machine data from all instances of this sub-process.

You can read more about our new solution HERE.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Datapolis Process System features: Workflow designer

Datapolis Process System combines a simple process designer and forms builder with a powerful activities development platform; all fully integrated with each other and with SharePoint. This unique dual nature distinguishes Datapolis Process System and fosters communication among process participants, managers and technical professionals. Stakeholders can share process logic diagrams, consider improvements with real-time thru-put graphs and manage complex processes from a single repository.



Drag and drop designer to model a process and create a workflow 

A web-based designer allows anyone to lay out process logic using icons to represent roles, states and actions then deploy the resulting workflow at the push of a button. Put a SharePoint group or user into a workflow role then drag and drop it onto an action icon to assure that only authorized users can execute actions such as approvals. Select and order SharePoint columns to build data entry forms for each workflow action.

Powerful activities designer to automate functionality 

A powerful activities designer allows programmers to create advanced workflow functionality and automate tasks without cluttering the business layer. You can quickly define an activities tree without programming by using out of the box functions, like Send an Email. Use variables, loops, lookups, and conditions to automate whatever tasks come your way. Create and deploy new custom functions individually or combine them into procedures using the SDK or external tools. 

Built-in forms designer ties user experience to workflow goals 

With just a few clicks, the built-in forms designer produces fully functional user forms for every workflow action. Form data may be drawn from or saved in lists or libraries or may be stored in workflow variables and passed from user to user within the workflow. Existing forms may also be used as templates.

Push button deployment within a managed environment 

Datapolis workflows can be deployed instantly to start a new workflow instance whenever a new list item or library document is created or modified. Workflows can also be started manually or by another workflow and associated with any SharePoint list, library, site or content type. Workflow deployment and user actions are controlled and managed from the Datapolis central administration.

SharePoint interface optimizes user experience

Process participants see only the workflow actions they are permitted to use. They select the action with one click from the context menu, list, ribbon, display form or edit form. A "Tasks" page shows all the tasks that are assigned to the process attender. The history of each workflow instance is presented as a graph with details to reveal and manage process bottlenecks. Data from workflow history can be aggregated and analyzed with tools such as Excel, Reporting Services or other external reporting solutions.

You can read more about our new solution HERE

Friday, February 28, 2014

Datapolis unveils Datapolis Process System

Datapolis Process System, the new process management platform for Microsoft SharePoint, will be presented to the public during Microsoft SharePoint Conference, March 2-6 2014 in Las Vegas, at the Datapolis booth no. 932. Here is the overview of our new solution:


Introduction


Datapolis Process System includes everything you need to model, implement, manage and evolve process - driven applications in SharePoint. With Datapolis Process System you can simplify complex processes and organize all your workflows into a coherent system.

Design a process and transform it into a workflow


Datapolis combines a simple process designer and forms builder with a powerful activities development platform; all fully integrated with each other and with SharePoint. This unique dual nature distinguishes Datapolis Process System and fosters communication among process participants, managers and technical professionals. Stakeholders can share process logic diagrams, consider improvements with real-time thru-put graphs and manage complex processes from a single repository.


Organize workflows into apps and manage them from repositories


Datapolis Process System lets you convert workflows into DPS apps, stand-alone objects that may be used inside other workflows and by external solutions. Multiple processes can be managed from a single repository. DPS Application repositories help simplify and organize the process system, support process improvement, control changes, and accelerate acceptance, bringing order to the workflow system and the whole SharePoint environment.

Manage your process system


Datapolis Central Administration lets you manage, monitor and tune a complex process system from within SharePoint. Simplify security, increase workflow performance, monitor thru-put, reduce errors and control maintenance changes from a central location.

You can read more about our new solution HERE.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Our new solution: Datapolis Process System

It helps you do whatever you do again and again on SharePoint. It includes everything you need to model, implement, manage and evolve process - driven applications in SharePoint. With it you can simplify complex processes and organize all your workflows into a coherent system.

 This is Datapolis Process System: our new tool which uses the design and capabilities of Datapolis Workbox, but expands them further. With Datapolis Process System you can organize SharePoint workflows into applications that can be used inside other workflows and by external solutions.

You will be able to:


  1. Pull together generic processes into a single repository that can be used in many workflows 
  2. Simplify complex workflows by building them from smaller-scale applications (think about building blocks!) 
  3. Design parallel sub-processs 
  4. Execute multiple instances of the same process simultaneously. 


You can also design a process and transform it into a workflow using a graphic designer known from Datapolis Workbox. All your processes can be managed with Datapolis Central Administration.

We will present Datapolis Process System for the first time at the SharePoint Conference in Vegas. A trial version and on-line test sites will be available very soon! Stay tuned for more information on Datapolis Process System and how it can improve your process management.

Monday, February 3, 2014

How to cut workflows and minimize risks? Datapolis article on SharePoint Reviews

Workflow automation is a must for all companies wishing to have their internal methods functioning smoothly and effectively. SharePoint workflows is a popular tool to help you achieve this goal, there are however some limitations that can cause deployment challenges. Do you want to know how to tackle them? Read the article by our product manager Tomasz Głogosz on SharePoint Reviews.

Read the full article HERE.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Datapolis Xpress 1/2014


Datapolis newsletter is back with its first 2014 issue. This month's feature is Allium, our partner providing document management solutions for SharePoint. You can read why they chose Datapolis Workbox rather than other workflow tools, what are its possible applications in the field of document management and what is the future of that business area.

The newsletter is available HERE.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Datapolis is on Facebook

Better late than never - Datapolis has its very own Facebook page. Visit us at https://www.facebook.com/datapolisworkflows to get news and insights about workflows and business processes in the SharePoint environment. We will do our best to get you the highest quality content and we promise - no cute cats pics! Enjoy!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Workbox Academy: How to build onboarding process?

Just for a quick reminder, the latest video from Datapolis Workbox Academy. Here we want to show you how to build onboarding workflow in SharePoint 2013 using our solution. Enjoy! If you have any questions, feel free to put them in the comments section.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Working together: Datapolis Workbox and Allium Document Management

As you may know, Datapolis has created Partner Program  for companies operating in similar niches. By participating in the program our partners can integrate Datapolis Workbox with their own solutions. Today I would like to present one of them. Allium Document Management utilizes our workflows to facilitate processing large quantities of documents

Allium is the Czech company providing ERP and document management systems. It solution, Allium Document Management, allows storing and processing documents in a controlled, structured manner. Datapolis Workbox powers the workflow component for multiple document types. It ensures faster processing, easy accessibility to the central document catalog, and, by reducing the human factor, a lower error rate.

Allium Document Management home page


One of the companies that use this solution is Pipelife Czech, the largest Czech producer and seller of plastic piping systems, Pipelife Czech has deployed Allium Document Management to streamline processing several thousand paper invoices each month, including document digitalization, workflow-based DMS, and integration with ERP software.

Radek Hradil, operational director of another Allium customer UNIBON, explains the benefits of introducing Allium Document Management in his company: “In the original plan, we expected to reduce effort and human resources by 50% processing almost 200 daily e-mails with two full-time people. In reality, we reduced human power to just 25% of the original and cut process time.”

Workflow actions in Allium Document Management


If you would like to know more about the solution, you can download the information package HERE.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

SharePoint reminders. Don't forget, always remember! Part 2

In the first part of our guide we discussed alternatives to Datapolis Workbox: alerts, SharePoint Designer, Visual Studio, and Nintex Workflow. Today we will take a closer look at our solution and show how it can do much more than simply setting up a reminder.

Datapolis Workbox is a graphical designer for state machine workflows in SharePoint. What does “state machine” mean? To keep it simple it will help us support advanced scenarios, much more complex than the one we described.

In Datapolis Workbox every state of a workflow has a name which is shown in a special column. We do not have to create custom status column as in the previous examples, because it will be created automatically. So what states do we need? Of course one: “Assigned” (and maybe some more for more complicated scenarios, but we will get back to it later). Let’s build our simple scenario:

An assignment workflow created in Datapolis Workbox

We have now one state – Assigned, and two actions – Remind and Start work on issue. What are those actions? They are transitions from one state to another, which can be invoked manually or automatically. Actions can include some activities like sending an e-mail etc. When a new item is added our workflow starts automatically and goes to the Assigned state. In SharePoint it looks like this:

Datapolis Workbox actions visible in the SharePoint list


A user can just click Start work on issue to move the workflow to the next state (which in this case is the end state). That move includes, like I mentioned above, some activities that will, for example, send an e-mail or update item (or do lots of other things).

But wait – what with our reminders? We just need to set them up. We will use Remind action which is a loop action that allows to go back to the same state. In Datapolis Workbox we can set up something called Self-timer. That mechanism  provides possibility to launch an action automatically after (or at) selected time or if chosen conditions are met. Its configuration is very simple – you just click on an action, then on Self-timers button and then just click “Add new self-timer”. The window below will pop up.

Self-timers window in Datapolis Workbox


The edited action will contain an activity (see the picture below) that checks if due date is passed. If so, it sends an e-mail to Author or, if not,  it sends an e-mail to Assigned person.

Send an e-mail activity in Datapolis Workbox


So how does the process work now? It checks daily if due date is passed and then sends an e-mail – to Author or to Assigned person. If an item is not assigned it does not send an e-mail at all. So we can celebrate – we have accomplished our scenario.

But if it is the same as before why did we do it? Is there a reason? Yes - we can now stop waiting and move our workflow further, so that it can support the whole process. This workflow does not perform only one waiting activity. It waits for several things at the same time – for the self-timer which launches “Remind” action or for a user who launches “Start work on issue” action. And it is not all. For example we can move workflow to other state automatically if due date is passed, send reminders to the author in the other state and, if the author changes something or requests additional work, we can go back to the earlier state and send reminders to the assigned person again. In more complex, real-life situation that workflow can look like below:

A sample workflow created in Datapolis Workbox

The workflow contains the whole process that supports assigning, working and checking of an issue. It can request additional work (Assigned person) and more information (Author). It also supports several ways of sending reminders to Assigned person or Author (when due date is passed or when there is a request for additional info). Moreover, as you can see (look at blue clock icons on actions which symbolize self-timer) the workflow automatically moves to “Due date passed” state if due date passes (self-timer set to the date loaded from Current Item).

You have to remember that in real life you will also need to create some roles in a process. It is rather hard to support it dynamically in SharePoint, but in Datapolis Workbox you can just add roles using the graphic designer, include them in special activities and use in actions, so only those entitled to see some actions will see ones.

Summarizing, we have accomplished our scenario. It took us the similar amount of time than in Nintex. The advantage is that in the next several tens of minutes we made a really complex solution that would take days or even weeks in code.

Simple answer?
So is there a simple answer which tool we should use? As you probably already guessed – of course not. It always depends on what do you need. Let’s summarize our research and take a look at tools we’ve used:
  •          Browser – you can set up alerts through it. Enough for very simple scenarios when you would like to see changes on a list or a library.
  •          SharePoint Designer – more effective, but support only simple sequential workflows, without repeating of reminders.
  •        Visual Studio – fulfills every scenario. And your time as well. Use it when you need a deeply customized coded solution.
  •         Nintex Workflow – supports easy creation of advanced reminders as well as development of sequential workflows.
  •           Datapolis Workbox – allows to create multiple reminders inside complex state machine workflows.

It is really easy to choose a wrong tool, so you should always think and analyze before. Maybe your needs can be changed? Maybe you do not need something complicated? Maybe you can discuss how you should really remind people about their assignments? Or perhaps you could create your solution partially by a 3rd party workflow tool and partially by coding? Remember that a good tool can save you much time, but knowing how you want to achieve a solution and choosing the right tool, even not the best on the market but the best for the current project, can not only give you spare hours, but really drive you to success.

Tomasz Głogosz is Datapolis Workbox project manager and senior .NET architect.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

SharePoint reminders: Don't forget, always remember! Part 1

Welcome in the new year! As promised, we begin it with an article by Tomasz Głogosz about one of the possible applications of Datapolis Workbox - SharePoint reminders. It was first published in Spanish in the December edition of CompartiMOSS, the magazine of Spanish-speaking SharePoint community. You can also read it on our company website.

Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! - Please no… just ten more minutes! Lots of us talk like that every morning with their alarm clocks. Usually we press the sleep button and after several minutes the clock rings again. But what happen if it does not? In most cases the result is oversleep and being late to work. Now let’s think about a situation when a  friend calls you in a day and asks for help. You say “Call me in the evening, I will help you” and usually forget about it. Unless he or she calls you later you will not remember to help them.
Where else people act like that? In a professional environment of course. It is quite likely that in your workplace you receive automated emails with information about some task to do. But, as you work on other tasks already, you would like to save it for later. Sometimes you will remember about a new task, but in lots of cases you will simply forget about that so it would be the best if someone reminded you later. Especially if you are a boss – you are probably tired of reminding others about their work and would like your IT system to do it. 
In this post I will describe several ways of achieving that using Microsoft SharePoint and its extensions. I will cover differences between them as well as their advantages and disadvantages. I hope that after reading it you will know which method fits your needs.

Environment
At first we need some environment - let it be a SharePoint web site with a simple list. The list contains three columns: Title (of an issue), Assigned to (some employee) and Due date. It looks like this:

Simple SharePoint list with assigned issues

How will the typical scenario look like? We have an issue (task, work item etc.) and we would like to inform a user that he or she has something to do. We would like to keep notifying that person for as long until the work on the issue starts. But what to do when due date approaches? The person who created the issue should be probably informed that something goes wrong. So we need a mechanism that sends an e-mail to the assigned user every day until he or she picks up the task (let’s debate later what does it mean) or, when due date approaches, alarms the user who created an item.

First idea
When you think about notifications in SharePoint the first thing that comes to mind are alerts. From a browser level you can simply set an alert on a library or an item to keep you (or other people) informed about what is going on. Alerts however work only when something happens: an item is added, changed, deleted etc. We will get information when an item is created, but later, if we want to remind a user about his task which remain unchanged, that is not enough. We need something more powerful.

Typical second step
Usually if there is no option to do something in a browser the second step is SharePoint Designer where can create declarative workflows. Let’s try!

The SharePoint Designer workflows may include several activities which are interesting for us, like:

  •          Send Mail, with the possibility to select as recipient Current Item Author and Current Item field
  •          If Activity, which can check and differ values of Current Item fields
  •          Pause activities, one for waiting for some time period and the other for waiting until selected date, which can be  looked up from Current Item

Putting it together gives us the workflow below:

A simple workflow created in SharePoint Designer


The workflow sends an e-mail after we create an issue (great!), waits until due date and notifies the author of the issue that it has not been picked up yet (even greater!). But wait, where is the most important thing – daily reminding?

Unfortunately we can’t do that. In SharePoint 2010 Microsoft removed from SharePoint Designer the Loop activity, the one that we really need for daily reminding. We still can make some workarounds, like putting Pause activity inside If and then, inside that one, other If with other Pause. The workflow waits, checks, waits, checks, etc., but only for the selected number of times. It could fit in some scenarios but in most cases we would need to find some other way.

Big gun
               
The third option, most powerful but also most time consuming, is Visual Studio. To use Visual Studio and develop SharePoint solutions we need a programmer, so the description below was written with programmers in mind – beware!

We can develop custom code for timer jobs that runs in selected time spans. At start we need to have a SharePoint type project (e.g. SharePoint 2013 – Empty project) deployed as a farm solution. Then we can create a class for our timer job which should inherit from SPJobDefinition. Remember to create two constructors: one with parameters for initializing a new instance in your code and one without parameters for SharePoint – it is needed for deserialization. The whole class will look like this:



Next step will be the filling Execute method. We need to open objects like SPSite, SPWeb and SPList – those ones where we store our issues.



Now we can load every issue which waits to be picked up. The best for it will be SPQuery which will load every item where Status equals Assigned and Date is greater than today’s date. For every item we will send an e-mail to Assigned To person with notification.



We should do similar thing for issues that are over due date, but this time we will send e-mails to authors of documents.



We need also a little code for installing and uninstalling the timer job. That code can be started from a farm feature or a farm configuration page.



At last we have our solution. It meets our scenario: reminds people about their issues every day and after due date alerts the author. And it is not very complicated. Is it?

But wait – we have a coded solution (so we need to be a programmer or have one) which contains hard coded data about site, list, mail content etc. If something changes we will need to update the solution and redeploy it. It takes time. Also we do not have anything to configure a solution, install the timer etc. So what should be next?

 To have a full solution you need at least:
  •          Farm feature, for installing/uninstalling timer job
  •          Configuration page (you need to decide where to put it – farm, site?) allowing at least to configure e-mails, site and list.
  •            Some store where you should keep your configuration data

And you need to decide how exactly you would like this to work. You have to remember that our scenario is very simple. Big companies may have very specific policies about such reminders, so you can have lot of work with more complicated scenarios and may need to create custom solutions for different departments. It could take from several hours up to several days. Sounds ridiculous for such a simple task. There should be some simpler method, shouldn’t it?

Other ways
There are plenty of 3rd party solutions for SharePoint - I will show that some of them not only support our scenario but also processes that this scenario is part of, so you can develop much more that only reminders. I will present their advantages and disadvantages, i.e. what you can do with them in context of reminders and what you cannot.

Nintex Workflow claims that it is “Workflow for Everyone,” so let’s check if it is for us too. In our scenario we can use activities similar to SharePoint Designer like Send Notification (i.e. send an e-mail) and Pause for (i.e. Delay) and include as well a loop activity. Now we can send an e-mail and wait until due date or until  the assigned person picks up an issue. The workflows checks if one of those conditions is met. Then it can move forward or send info to the author (i.e. when an issue is not picked up and due date is passed). Our workflow will look like this:





As you can see we accomplished our task. For constructing such a workflow you need less than an hour.  Great! Isn’t it? Mostly. But what happens if we would like this workflow to manage our issue process further? The workflow doesn’t know when an issue is picked up. What if we would like to send an e-mail to the author of the issue (in many companies we need such things)? Or if we would like to send back an issue to the author to update it? Or if after an issue is completed the author decides to send it back to us? We would need to reassign the issue and always send reminders for the assigned person and also for the author. Like I mentioned, it is a rather complicated task.


TO BE CONTINUED

Tomasz Głogosz is Datapolis Workbox project manager and senior .NET architect.