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eZ Publish Knowledge Series: Editorial workflow with Object States

Tuesday 24 March 2009 1:00:00 pm

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Typical workflow-like processes basically boil down to transitions in states for objects driven by human or other external interaction. The introduction of freely definable object states, possibly grouped in object state collections and coupled to the role/policy system of eZ Publish, enables a wide range of applications.

In this implementation, an object can have multiple object states, but can have only one at a time in any defined object state collection.

Use case

Currently, the workflow engine in eZ Publish does not allow for objects to be edited with fine grained access control while being submitted for a workflow process. An example is the approval workflow currently bundled with eZ Publish: an object is locked and can only be rejected or accepted by the person in charge of approval. No corrections or other editing are possible in this phase with the default approval event provided.

With object states, this can be easily governed by setting correct permissions for the various object states together with policies and roles on the transitions between object states. Let's see how this can be achieved.

Here is the situation: you are managing a team of journalists, which is broken down into several specialized subteams :

  • Bulk editors (Brad is part of this team)
  • Spellcheckers (Stefan)
  • Media enrichers (Mélanie)
  • Translaters (Telma)

Ok, this is simplistic, but stay focused please...

Each subteam should focus on its very task for every generated piece of content, in order to best leverage its skills, and then hand over the piece of content to the subsequent team. To achieve this, you will need to set up two key elements of the process :

  1. An access control mechanism, giving the right to each subteam to do its part of the work ( and only this one ) on a piece of content, preventing any destructive intereference.
  2. A hand-over mechanism, communication channel between subteams.

Say Brad writes an articles about Obama's fresh election as President of the USA. When he is done, Stefan takes his work over, and checks the various grammar and spelling rules. Then Mélanie adds cool pictures of Barack Obama's inauguration, and sends the resulting almost-ready article to Telma, who is in charge of translating it to Spanish.

Here come the object states on stage !

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