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Mail Pipe: Savvion BPM Integration with Mobile Devices Series

Submitted by Abhishek on Sun, 2011-05-15 20:43

Mobile Apps have been emerging as one of the most powerful drivers in the recent years. Any product offering which does not integrate with Smart phones is definitely on its way of facing serious resistance in market penetration. Savvion Business Manager from Progress seems to have overlooked the fact in recent years. What's surprising is that the version 3.0 of Savvion (Current Production release is 7.x) actually claimed to have an integration with Biz Mobile although I am not aware of a working version of the same. Organizations that have huge Savvion infrastructure are struggling to have an integration with Smart Phones and similar devices, Blackberry being one of the major phones being sought for.
This white paper intends to showcase some of the approaches in which Savvion Business Manager could be integrated with Mobile Devices with focus on Blackberry. Our overall approach assumes that Cellphone requirement pertains to task Approvals/Completions rather than Business Process Modeling etc.
Savvion Mobile Approaches: Mail Pipe
Although the term is no longer that popular, a Mail Pipe is essentially an Emailing Server which has capabilities to take actions based on incoming Emails. Since Emailing is the most common functionality available in Smart phones, a Mail pipe can also be used to take Savvion Actions. Here is how you can do it:

  • Setup an Emailing Server (SMTP/POP3) and provide it an id say
  • Write a Scheduled Job which could connect to the server using java mail (pop3) and search for new message. The scheduled job could have thread pools which would pick up the message and start processing
  • Email processor thread can interact with the Savvion Back end using API calls. Appropriate actions could be taken

This will be an extension of the Link based emailing approach. Before every task, an email would be sent out by Savvion which has details of the task. The Email could have headers/Subject which clearly depict which Instance this request pertains to. The mail itself will have options on how to approve and reject. One such instruction could be that “if you would like to Approve, type approve and reply back. If you disapprove, type disapprove and send back. You may optionally create a new line after approve/disapprove and enter your comments there”.
This approach needs coding from Server end. However its has several benefits

  • With No Browser based pop ups, this approach is totally Email based
  • No Need to worry about CSS, Javascript and layouts
  • Unlike other approaches, this system could even be used to launch processes and not just action them
  • Unlike other approaches, this method could involve parties outside corporate intranet to be part of the workflow

The overall cost of building application of this scale would be high. Since validations cannot be imposed on emails, the server end needs to be made strong enough to handle incorrect responses, security violations and concurrent responses. Another drawback of this approach is that an email with huge attachments might actually choke the mail pipe and cause processing delays.

Abhishek Mishra
Good experience in working with BPM technologies like Savvion, JBPM. Founder and Chief Editor of Founder of Savvion Business Manager Mobility Framework Savmobify| View my BPMGeek Profile
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