Thursday, November 11, 2010 12:45 PM Mikael Sand

ASI302 – Using workflow and AppFabric in your applications

Presented by: Ron Jacobs
Video here.

Me and Ron This is a presentation I really was looking forward to since I have been watching Ron’s show, enpoint tv, on channel 9. How much did I look forward to it? Enough for the this situation in the picture to happen.

As expected it was a good presentation but before the presentation started he stepped of the podium for a bit and started talking to people in the audience, just to get a grasp on people’s motivations’ for being there.

So the presentation was part introduction to workflow and part introduction to AppFabric, but there was also a short thing about the need for work flow and the rise of the need for a more declarative language, like WF. That way you can focus more on the What and not the How. Not only that, but WF really is a runtime, that runs on-top of a runtime (CLR), in the same way that is a runtime. So if you use for your web needs, you should use WF for your declarative needs.

Nowadays we also need our programs to be agile and see to it that “work should happen when data is ready and where resources are available” meaning that if you spread your work over a large number of servers, you should not have to worry about the correct recourse is being run. The work should be able to execute on any machine., within a group or cluster. Work must also be agile across 4 dimensions: Thread, Process, Machine, Time. You could also say that WF is a very good way to integrate that very unreliable and slow software called humans.

Ron preaching to the choir I really must digress at bit about Ron, because when he speaks you get this feeling that he first of all loves his job, but I also get the feeling that the reason why he is in the WF4 team is that he likes to see this kind of technology develop. It is like he does that just for himself.

Workflow problem

This is coming from me personally, and it’s that I think one of the reasons that WF might not be everyone’s first choice id that it' is ugly! The design surface is…well ugly and it does not look like a WF. I really wish that “someone” would design a skin for it, because it’s possible to skin and re-host.

Notes from the session

Here are some of my notes and take-aways from the session: Statemachine workflows was dropped from WF4 due to time issues but there is a version on codeplex right now, if you want it. There are also a couple of other interesting things there so check it out.

If you want to get a good example to really get you going with WF4 (and you should) you can point your browser to this address. This example does not only provide you with everything you need but it is designed to be displayed right there in visual studio! You get documentation and steps and code all in the same application. A great feature I think.

As things stand now technology-wise, Ron said it best: “There is no reason on earth to host as WCF or a WF service in anything but AppFabric". Guess I can say: I told you so!

One more thing is that the AppFabric and WF teams seem to like getting feedback and also makes it possible for you to stay informed: – Video podcast – The team blog – Ron’s blog – WF developer centre
Ron’s Twitter: @ronljacobs

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