Two Minute WF: Core Services

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In this Two Minute WF, we’ll talk about Core Services.

When the WorkflowRuntime is hosting your WorkflowInstance, there are certain things going on to help manage the environment the WorkflowInstance is running in. These runtime-level, globally accessible services are the Core Services. There are four Core Services:

  • Scheduler: This is responsible for managing the threads used to run workflow instances. The default scheduler service implementation used if you don’t specify otherwise is the DefaultWorkflowSchedulerService. If you’re hosting your workflows in an environment with specific threading requirements (like within an ASP.NET application), you’ll need to change the scheduler.
  • Persistence: This is responsible for saving and restoring workflow instance state. For example, you may have a long-running workflow (maybe minutes, maybe days) and you don’t want it in memory that whole time - this service saves the state when the workflow instance becomes idle and re-hydrates the instance when it’s time to resume. There is no default implementation of persistence, but a SqlWorkflowPersistenceService is available out-of-the-box.
  • Tracking: This service helps in monitoring workflow instance progress. Very helpful in troubleshooting and tracing workflow instances for auditing and management. There is no default implementation of tracking, but a SqlTrackingService is available.
  • Commit Work Batch: This service manages the transactions around batched work. For example, if you have several activities in a workflow that need to succeed or fail as an atom, they’ll participate in a work batch. If you don’t specify otherwise, the DefaultWorkflowCommitWorkBatchService will be used.

You can only have one of each of these services (except tracking - you can have multiple tracking services) per runtime.

The beauty of the way WF was written is that you can create your own custom implementations of any of these services and instruct the WorkflowRuntime to use them. For example, if you wanted to create a persistence service that stores all of your workflow states in XML files in the filesystem, you could do that. Or if you had a special way you wanted to track workflow instance events, like in a proprietary logging system, you could implement your own tracking service.