David Chappell


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Why Workflow Matters  
# Monday, July 18, 2005
With its recent publication of the 2005 Professional Developer's Conference session descriptions, Microsoft has confirmed what the press has already reported: workflow is being added to Windows. Workflow technology is used in many areas, and it's a safe bet that this new Windows component will be used in a variety of ways. Yet one application of workflow technology is by far the most important in a service-oriented world: providing logic that coordinates the activities of a group of services. Sometimes referred to as orchestration rather than workflow, this coordination is fundamental to creating composite applications. And composite applications look like today's most promising approach to building new software that really meets business needs.

As I've argued elsewhere (here and, at greater length, here), the coordinating logic of a composite app requires a particular kind of supporting platform. Workflow/orchestration technologies provide this platform, and without it, composite applications are tough to build. Developers and architects will need to learn how and when to use what workflow offers, something that's sure to take time. Still, by including workflow in Windows, Microsoft is clearly indicating that it views this technology as a standard part of the modern developer toolkit. This addition will give Windows developers a significantly better foundation for creating software that exploits a world full of services.

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