Windows Workflow Foundation and Domain Specific Languages

Monday, March 19, 2007

Windows Workflow Foundation is a multi-faceted technology. Some people will look at WF and see a tool to manage long-running business processes, while others see a rules engine. Yet another perspective is to look at WF as a tool for building domain specific languages.

Last week I had numerous conversations with talented individuals who reinforced this theme of WF as a DSL tool. For example- Kathleen Dollard builds code-generation tools for developers, and Sam Gentile builds applications for financial analysts. Both of them are giving their end users the ability to create tailored software using a domain specific language. The DSLs themselves are composed from custom activities in Windows Workflow Foundation. Microsoft has built a few DSLs on top of WF too, most notably in the latest release of Sharepoint Server and in Speech Server 2007.

Here's a few interesting resources on custom activity development in WF:

Build Custom Activities To Extend The Reach Of Your Workflows – Matt Milner

Speaker Verification Activity for Speech Server 2007 – Casey Chestnut

Custom Activity Samples in the SDK

HOW TO: Create a custom Windows Workflow Activity and make it available in SharePoint Designer – Todd Baginski

Creating a Custom Composite Activity – Morgan Skinner

I'm still hoping the WF team will one day publish and document the source code to the base activity library in WF. This would be a great starting point for developers who need to build robust, production ready custom activities.


Comments
Sahil Malik Monday, March 19, 2007
>I'm still hoping the WF team will one day publish and document the source code to the base activity library in WF. This would be a great starting point for developers who need to build robust, production ready custom activities.

... until then, use Reflector .. wink wink ;-)
scott Monday, March 19, 2007
Yes, but Reflector doesn't yield compilable code, particularly when the code makes heavy use of anon delegates. It would be nice to take an existing component and tweak it.
LIming Monday, March 19, 2007
That's some really hopefully information. Thanks for the info.

The ability to creat custom activity will add so much more functionality to my software, gonne have to keep track on this in the future.

Comments are now closed.
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