Saturday, September 29, 2012

Activiti Modeler: Getting started part 1

Yesterday we pushed the new Activiti Modeler source code to the Activiti Github repository as part of the Activiti Explorer web application. In addition an alpha version of the new Activiti Modeler (as part of the Activiti Explorer) application was released here. In a number of getting started articles I'll explain the new functionality in more detail.

In this first part of the Activiti Modeler getting started article series, we'll explore the main functionality and we start off we a bit of history.

As you know we had an Activiti Modeler component as part of the Activiti project from the start. This Modeler was donated by Signavio as part of the Signavio Core Components project. But as the project site states now, this project was not maintained anymore since 2011. Because we think a BPMN 2.0 web modeler with support for the Activiti extensions is of great value to the Activiti community, a couple of months ago I decided to fork the Signavio Core Components project and build a new version myself. And after a couple of iterations this now resulted in a code merge with the Activiti Explorer project and a first alpha release for you to try out the new web modeler.

You can download the alpha WAR from the Activiti download page and copy it to your Tomcat servlet container or another application server. This application includes the Activiti Explorer app extended with the Activiti Modeler functionality. This alpha release uses an in-memory database for the Activiti Engine as well as for the model repository. To change this you can configure another datasource in the (for the Activiti Engine) and the META-INF/persistence.xml (for the model repository, only 1 table at the moment).

When you open the web application you'll see the login page of the Activiti Explorer application. Please note that for the Activiti Modeler functionality only one of the latest versions of Chrome or Firefox are supported. You'll notice the changes when you click on the process link at the top of the Activiti Explorer web application.

You now see a new Model workspace link in the web application. The table contains all the models available in your model repository. You can create new models, and edit and delete existing models. In addition, you can deploy a model directly to the Activiti Engine. Another nice feature is to open an already deployed process definition in the Activiti Modeler. You can do this via the Deployed process definitions link.

There's a new button name Convert to editable model (only enabled when the deployed process definition has BPMN DI information) and when you confirm the popup dialog, a new model is created in the repository and the Activiti Modeler is opened. Let's do this for the example Simple approval process.

As you can see, the palette contains already most of the Activiti supported elements. In addition you can open the attributes panel on the right side and you can see the attributes that you can configure for every BPMN element.

In the next part we'll discuss how to create a new process model using the new Activiti Modeler and how to deploy it to the Activiti Engine.