Installing and Configuring the Workflow Components

Introduction

Workflow in TaskCentre enables user interaction with a task and acts as a manual decision making step to influence a task outcome.

‘Workflow Components’ is the collective name for three installable web server based components which enables this task interaction. They are installed on a dedicated web server where Microsoft IIS 7.0 or later is present. This may be the same machine as TaskCentre or a separate one.

The components are as follows:

  • Workflow Agent
  • myTaskCentre
  • Workflow Web Service

Using workflow a recipient can receive a ‘Workflow Job’; a task generated web page allowing decision making actions. Using interactive controls within the workflow job, textual data can be manually entered or selected from a list of options and then the workflow job submitted.

This interaction from a user and the submission of a workflow job enables another task to trigger and fulfill the decision made.

For further details, the following knowledge base article provides a brief introduction to workflow and how it works: Overview of Building Workflow Tasks

The TaskCentre Server installation is always the first step in a new deployment, for further details please see the following knowledge base article:

Installing and Configuring the Server

The Three Components

Workflow Agent

The Workflow Agent notifies the TaskCentre server to trigger a task to run when a workflow job has been submitted.

It is installed on the web server where task generated workflow jobs (interactive web pages) are published to and must be registered with the TaskCentre server before it becomes operational.

The agent monitors the web server and detects when a workflow job has been actioned.

myTaskCentre

myTaskCentre is a web portal that provides users with a secure logon method and an interface for managing workflow jobs.

This component is installed on the same web server where the workflow jobs are published to.

Workflow Web Service

Note: This component is optional and does not need to be installed if you do not require its functionality. The Workflow Agent and myTaskCentre component are all that is required to enable workflow to operate.

The Workflow Web Service provides an alternative way for accessing and managing workflow jobs.

It is an application that allows developers to integrate functionality to add, edit, delete and manage workflow jobs into their web sites, web services and web applications.

Like the other two Workflow Components, it is installed on the web server where the workflow jobs are published to.

Planning an Installation

What do you need to do before installing the TaskCentre Workflow Components? Use this planning checklist to help you achieve a successful installation.

CHECKLIST – Workflow Components

Ensure that system prerequisites are in place on the machine that will host the components (set out in the release notes and software compatibility document)

  • Create a dedicated web site within IIS to process workflow requests.
  • Plan for a restart of IIS in order to initiate TaskCentre workflow. This of course has the potential to disrupt users that may be running web apps.
  • Ensure ASP.NET 4.5 Server Role is installed on the web server.
  • Obtain the server name or IP address of the TaskCentre server.
  • Obtain the administrator password for the TaskCentre server (in order to register the Workflow Agent).
  • Plan for a reboot of the server where you’re installing the agent (though it’s not normally required).
  • Check ports 4222 and 4223 are open on the TaskCentre server machine.

Why you need a dedicated web site

You have seen from our checklist that one of the planning tasks is to create a dedicated web site for the workflow components. This will enable workflow jobs to be published and stored within the web site and also allow them to be accessed by a user when the website URL is specified.

It is better that TaskCentre has its own web site to process workflow requests and is a web site that is not shared with other applications.

A separate web site allows you to allocate application pools and .NET resources as required by TaskCentre and avoids any potential contention with other web-based applications. For instance, other applications may use different versions of ASP.NET to those required by TaskCentre.

10. IIS App Pools

Creating a web site for TaskCentre workflow

To set up a dedicated web site for TaskCentre workflow it is advisable to consult with your systems administrator. This is because the site would normally need to adhere to the policies and procedures of your organisation.

The procedure for setting up the web site differs slightly according to the version of Microsoft Internet Information Services you are using.

The details about this are provided within the following section, together with links to Microsoft articles about installing the web server infrastructure necessary to support TaskCentre workflow.

Which version of Microsoft IIS are you using?

The procedure for setting up a web site differs depending on which version of IIS you are using.

Setting up a website for IIS 7

Step One

Check whether Microsoft Internet Information Services 7.0 or 7.5 is installed on your TaskCentre workflow web server machine. If not, you will have to install it.

The following Microsoft TechNet white paper provides step-by-step instructions:

URL: Installing IIS 7.0 on Windows Server 2008

Step Two

Decide where you would like the web site files to be stored and set up folders for it.

Our suggestion would be to store the files on this path:

C:\Program Files\Orbis Software\TaskCentre\Website\Workflow

If the sub-folders shown here under the TaskCentre folder do not exist, you will need to create them.

Step Three

Create the web site using IIS 7.x.

For guidance about this, you should refer to the following Microsoft TechNet white paper:

URL: Create a Web site (IIS 7)

Step Four (optional)

You can use host header names to configure multiple web sites in IIS.

For guidance about this, you should refer to the following Microsoft TechNet white paper:

URL: Configure a Host Header for a Web Site (IIS 7)

Setting up a website for IIS 8

Step One

Check whether Microsoft Internet Information Services 8.0 or 8.5 is installed on your TaskCentre workflow web server machine. If not, you will have to install it.

The following Microsoft TechNet white paper provides step-by-step instructions:

URL: Installing IIS 8 on Windows Server 2012

Step Two

Decide where you would like the web site files to be stored and set up folders for it.

Our suggestion would be to store the files on this path:

C:\Program Files\Orbis Software(x86)\TaskCentre\Website\Workflow

If the sub-folders shown here under the TaskCentre folder do not exist, you will need to create them.

Step Three

Create the web site using IIS 8.x.

  1. In the Connections pane, right-click the Sites node and select Add Web Site.
  2. Within the Add Web Site dialog, provide a name for your web site in the Site name field. For example, “TaskCentre”.
  3. Click Select if you want to specify a different application pool than the one listed in the Application Pool field.
  4. In the Physical path field, type the physical path of the web site’s folder, or click the browse button () to navigate the file system to find the folder.
  5. If the physical path is to a remote share, click Connect as to specify credentials that have permission to access the path. If you do not use specific credentials, select the Application user (pass-through authentication) option in the Connect As dialog.
  6. Using the Type drop down list select the protocol that the web site will use.
  7. The default value for the IP address is All Unassigned. If you need to specify a static IP address for the Web site, type the IP address in the IP address field.
  8. Using the Port field provide a port number.
  9. Optionally, type a host header name for the Web site in the Host Header box.
  10. Ensure the tick box Start Web site immediately has been checked.
  11. Click OK to complete configuring a new web site.

Step Four (optional)

You can use host header names to configure multiple web sites in IIS.

  1. In the Connections pane, expand the Sites node and select the site for which you want to configure a host header.
  2. Right-click the site and select Edit Bindings.
  3. Within the Site Bindings dialog, select the binding for which you want to add a host header and click Edit.
  4. Within the Edit Site Binding dialog, type a host header for the site. For example,  www.beltsandbraces.com
  5. (optional) To add an additional host header, click Add to create a new binding with the same IP address and port, and the new host header. Repeat for each host header that you want to use this IP address and port.
  6. Click OK to complete configuring a host header.

Installing Workflow Components

The Workflow Components are selected as features to install from the TaskCentre installer.

They are installed on a dedicated web server machine where Microsoft IIS 7.0 or later is present. This may be the same machine as TaskCentre or another on your network.

If your web server is remote to TaskCentre, then a standalone install of just the workflow components can be completed without the need for any other TaskCentre component being present.

Configuring the Workflow Components

After the Workflow Components have been installed you use the TaskCentre Configurator to complete the settings required for each component to operate.

Configuration will involve registering the Workflow Agent with the TaskCentre server and identifying the web site for myTaskCentre which will enable published workflow jobs to be accessed from the web portal.

If required, the website where the Workflow Web Service will reside on can be configured.

A prompt will appear after install and if accepted the Configurator will load. You can deselect this prompt if you want to carry out configuration at a later time.

You can open the Configurator from the Start -> Programs menu or for newer operating systems you can select the Configurator app from the start screen.

Prerequisites

Within the Configurator the Prerequisites node of each component requires that Internet Information Services (IIS) and ASP.NET components are installed if they are to work correctly and before any configuration can be carried out.

You can expand the Show Details drop down list which will provide further details about a specific requirement.

  • A tick symbol Tick indicates the prerequisite has been met.
  • A cross symbol Cross indicates that an aspect of the required environment is missing or not running and action is required before the feature will work properly.
  • A warning symbol Warning indicates that a configuration issue exists but the feature may still be usable.

If you have corrected a prerequisite issue, you can use the Refresh button to update the prerequisite report.

Workflow Agent Component

The Workflow Agent requires you to register the agent with the TaskCentre Server. This will  allow the agent to notify the server when a workflow job has been submitted, therefore triggering a task to run.

Locating the settings

When installing the agent for the first time the Configurator will take you straight to the agent component.

Otherwise, the configuration settings are located under the Event Agents folder. Located here will be the Workflow Job Trigger Agent sub-folder.

Once the agent has been configured, clicking this folder will display the server the agent is registered with along with the agent name and ID.

Registration Settings

The Registration Settings node allows you to check or change the server that the agent is registered with. By default, the current machine name will be displayed with the agent name as ‘Workflow Job Trigger’.

The name of the TaskCentre Server machine is entered into the Server field. Alternatively, you can use the server IP address.

The Agent Name can be changed if required. Having a unique name to identify the agent would be beneficial if you were to have multiple workflow agents across your network.

You click Save to proceed.

Authentication Required

The Configurator will prompt you to enter the TaskCentre Administrator account password to complete the agent registration with the TaskCentre Server.

You must ensure that you are not logged on elsewhere with the account, this will prevent the registration from being completed.

myTaskCentre Workflow Component

Configuring myTaskCentre requires setting the web site that myTaskCentre will use to present users with published workflow jobs.

The URL of this web site can then be used in any web browser to open the myTaskCentre web portal. This will allow login to view outstanding workflow jobs created within TaskCentre.

Locating the settings

You can find the myTaskCentre component as a folder in the navigation pane, titled myTaskCentre.

After configuration has been completed, clicking on the folder will display where myTaskCentre has been deployed to.

Configuration

Within the Configuration node you specify the web site where myTaskCentre will be installed.

Use the Website drop down list to select an available web site hosted by Internet Information Services (IIS) on the current machine.

Default Web Site will be displayed if no other web site has been configured. It is recommended that a dedicated website for TaskCentre is made available for selection.

Clicking Save will complete the myTaskCentre configuration.

Web Service Workflow Component

Configuring the Web Service component requires setting the web site that the Web Service will use to view published workflow jobs.

Locating the settings

You can find the web service component as a folder in the navigation pane, titled Web Service.

After configuration has been completed, clicking on the folder will display where the Web Service has been deployed to.

Configuration

Within the Configuration node you specify the web site where the Workflow Web Service will be installed.

Use the Website drop down list to select an available web site hosted by Internet Information Services (IIS) on the current machine.

Default Web Site will be displayed if no other web site has been configured. It is recommended that a dedicated website for TaskCentre is made available.

Clicking Save will complete the Web Service configuration.

Installing and Configuring the Workflow Components: In Summary

Workflow Components are three features you can choose to install as part of a standard TaskCentre deployment. For workflow to operate, as a minimum only the Workflow Agent and myTaskCentre components are required.

These components are installed on a web server using the TaskCentre Installation Console, IIS 7 or above must be present. A dedicated web site for TaskCentre is recommended to enable web-related workflow jobs to be handled.

The installed components are configured before they can be used. Using the Configurator tool you check that the prerequisites have been met. You then register the Workflow Agent with the TaskCentre Server to establish communication and identify the web site that myTaskCentre will use to view published workflow jobs.

Once setup, task interaction will be available for use to influence the outcome of a business process.