Aegis Workflow 101 - Input Builder

Aegis Workflow 101 - Input Builder

Welcome to Part 2 of Aegis Workflow 101.  This time we look at Input Builder which is a basic but very powerful component of Aegis workflow design.

Looking back at Part 1, we build a 'Hello World' workflow which used the echo activity to output the value at its input.  This input was hard-coded.  Every time we run the workflow it outputs the same thing.  If you want to change what the activity outputs, you need to change the value at the input.  Clearly workflows need to be able to handle data dynamic data and this is where input builder comes in.  Avoiding hard coding values into workflows is always a design priority.

If we look back at the workflow from Part 1, and open up the echo activity, you will see a tick box for 'use input builder'.  When you check this box your text disappears and a new icon appears in the value field which you can click to edit the input value - this is the input builder icon.  You will find this icon in many locations in Aegis (many places you may not have heard of yet), in triggers, workitem attributes, connector logic, workflow properties etc.



The Input Builder Window allows you to add 'input elements', such as plain text, an output from another activity, a workitem attribute, an event attribute etc.  to form the required data for an input.  When you click on the 'New Input Element' you get a list of the available element types (this will vary depending on where you get access to input builder - input builder in a trigger is independent of workflow for example):


This list really covers all the areas you can get data from in a workflow.  Understanding each element type makes it much easier to build workflows.


Activity Output Parameter

This allows you to take the output of one activity and use it as the value or part of the current value.  This is used very frequently.


Activity Execution Parameter

This gives you info on the start time, end time and duration of a particular activity.


Event Attribute

An attribute of an event which triggered the workitem.


Work Item Attribute

All workitems have Standard workitem attributes such as the start time and endtime and the workitem id.  These are basically properties of the workitem.  A workflow can also have a number of Custom workitem attributes defined which can be set and read - these are sometimes described as local variables.


Trigger Custom Attribute

In a trigger definition, its possible to create a custom attribute based on attributes of a triggering event.  These are not often used as usually this type of value can be also generated in the workflow.


Global Setting

Access to Global settings which can be standard and custom.  These are sometimes described as global variables.


Input Form Link

This inserts a link to an input form activity - this would normally be used in an email for example so a user can follow the link to an Aegis input form.


Free-Form Text

This allows you to add text.  Any time there is text it is hard-coding but there are lots of occasions where generic text with a mix of dynamic values are used.


NewLine, Space, Empty String, Tab

These are all self explanatory.  The 'Empty String' option is really useful for when you need to compare a value to an empty string!


Now lets do a simple example based on the Hello World workflow from Part 1.  We will add a 'Write Text to File' activity, found in the 'Files and Folders (NetIQ)' activity library after the Echo State activity.  We will write the output of the Echo state activity, in Upper Case,  to a text  file whose name is the workitem id of the workitem.

So first for the File Path input, enable input builder.


First start by adding some free-form text.  Here we will specify the folder to save the file in (ok this is some hard-coding but this is a simple exercise).  Type the text in the text window.  You will see a check-box for 'encode special HTML/XML characters' - normally its best to leave this unchecked.  Enter a value like : C:\temp\  and click OK.

Now select Work Item Attribute.  You will get a window with a lot of attributes to choose from.  Find and select the 'Work Item ID' attribute.  This attribute is unique to the workitem which runs, so you will be able to identify which workitem wrote this file.   Select and click OK.

Finally choose 'Free-Form Text' again, and enter .txt and click OK


Looking at the Input Builder you can see your 3 values, and in the Input display you'll see what the output is formatted like.  You will see values inside curly brackets { } - these will be filled with correct values at run time.  You can go back in and edit each entry, add or remove or re-order the values.

Click OK.

We will leave the 'Encoding' and 'Truncate' options as default, again enable input builder on the 'String' input.  This is the value we are going to write to the file.

This time for the new input element we are going to choose 'Activity Output Parameter'.  Here you will get a list of all activities in the workflow (except the End of Workflow which has no outputs).  As you can imagine its really helps if you name your activities a suitable name or it can be pretty hard to find what activity you want to select here.  Workflows can have hundreds of activities depending on the complexity.  In this case though we just want to expand the 'Echo State' activity and choose the Echo output - there is only one output for this activity but most activities have many outputs.

On the lower part of the window is 'Output Parameter Qualifiers'.  Here is where we change the output of the Echo State into Upper Case.   Select 'Make Upper/Lower Case' and choose 'Make Upper Case' and click OK.


And that is it we are done - Put the process into production and test!

We will be coming across different locations Input Builder is used over the next few Parts.


Next up is: Aegis Workflow 101 - Events

Previous : Aegis Workflow 101 - Hello World

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