Design for Change: Evolving Workflow Specifications in ULTRAflow

  • Alfred Fent
  • Herbert Reiter
  • Burkhard Freitag
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2348)


Updating the specification of workflows on the fly in a workflow management system is currently considered an important topic in research as well as application. Yet, most approaches are either very simplistic, allowing only newly started workflows to take advantage of updated specifications, or they are complex, trying to transfer every active workflow from the old to the new schema.

In the workflow management system ULTRAflow, updates to workflow specifications are handled by using a multi-version concurrency control protocol. This is facilitated by the specification language for workflows, which is rule based and therefore provides a natural partitioning of specifications into smaller units. The proposed method allows active, running workflows to partly use new specifications if this does not conflict with already executed sub-workflows. Moreover, an architecture which is also applicable in a distributed system is presented.

While the method to update the specifications is discussed in the context of a workflow management system, it can also be applied in CORBA or EJB applications, or the now ubiquitous electronic services.


Data Item Semantical Information Basic Operation Concurrency Control Semantical Context 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    G. Alonso, D. Agrawal, A. E. Abbadi, M. Kamath, R. Günthör, and C. Mohan. Advanced transaction models in workflow contexts. In Proc. 12th Int. Conf. on Data Engineering, pages 574–583, 1996.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Apache Software Foundation. The Apache HTTP daemon, 2001.
  3. 3.
    A. Bernstein, C. Dellarocas, and M. Klein. Towards adaptive workflow systems (CSCW-98 workshop report). ACM SIGMOD Record, 28(3), 1999.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    P. A. Bernstein, V. Hadzilacos, and N. Goodman. Concurrency control and recovery in database systems. Addison-Wesley, 1987.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    P. A. Bernstein and E. Newcomer. Principles of Transaction Processing. Morgan Kaufmann, 1997.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    F. Casati, S. Ceri, B. Pernici, and G. Pozzi. Workflow evolution. Data and Knowledge Engineering, 24(3):211–238, 1998.zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    D. Edmond and A. H. M. ter Hofstede. A reflective infrastructure for workflow adaptability. Data and Knowledge Engineering, 34(3):271–304, 2000.zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    C. Ellis and K. Keddara. ML-DEWS: Modeling language to support dynamic evolution within workflow systems. Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 9(3/4):293–333, 2000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    C. Ellis, K. Keddara, and G. Rozenberg. Dynamic change within workflow systems. In Proc. Conf. on Organizational Computing Systems, pages 10–22, 1995.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    A. Fent and B. Freitag. ULTRAflow — a lightweight workflow management system. In Proc. Int. Workshop on Functional and (Constraint) Logic Programming (WFLP2001), Kiel, Germany, pages 375–378, 2001.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    A. Fent and B. Freitag. ULTRAflow — Ein regelbasiertes Workflow Management System. In Innovations-Workshop im Rahmen der Stuttgarter E-Business Innovationstage, 5.–8. November 2001, Stuttgart. Fraunhofer IAO, 2001.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    A. Fent, H. Reiter, and B. Freitag. Design for change: Evolving workflow specifications in ULTRAflow. Technical Report MIP-0104, University of Passau (FMI), 2001.
  13. 13.
    A. Fent, C.-A. Wichert, and B. Freitag. Logical update queries as open nested transactions. In Transactions and Database Dynamics, volume 1773 of LNCS, pages 45–66. Springer, 2000.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    J. Gray and A. Reuter. Transaction Processing: Concepts and Techniques. Morgan Kaufmann, 1993.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    C. Hagen and G. Alonso. Exception handling in workflow management systems. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 26(10):943–958, 2000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    M. Klein, C. Dellarocas, and A. Bernstein. Special issue on adaptive workflow systems. Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 9(3/4), 2000.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    H. F. Korth, E. Levy, and A. Silberschatz. A formal approach to recovery by compensating transactions. In V. Kumar and M. Hsu, editors, Recovery mechanisms in database systems, chapter 15, pages 444–465. Prentice Hall, 1998.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    J. W. Lloyd. Foundations of Logic Programming. Springer, 1987.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    N. C. Narendra. Adaptive workflow management-an integrated approach and system architecture. In Proc. 2000 ACM Symposium on Applied Computing, Villa Olmo, Italy, volume 2, pages 858–865, 2000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Object Management Group. The Common Object Request Broker Architecture, v2.0, 1997.
  21. 21.
    Orion Software. The Orion J2EE Server, 2001.
  22. 22.
    T. Pilioura and A. Tsalgatidou. E-Services: Current technology and open issues. In Proc. 2nd Int. Workshop on Technologies for E-Services (TES), Rome, volume 2193 of LNCS, pages 1–15. Springer, 2001.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    M. Reichert and P. Dadam. ADEPTflex — supporting dynamic changes of workflows without losing control. Journal of Intelligent Information Systems, 10:93–129, 1998.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    G. Shegalov, M. Gillmann, and G. Weikum. XML-enabled workflow management for e-services across heterogeneous platforms. VLDB-Journal, 10(1):91–103, 2001.zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Sun Microsystems. Enterprise Java Beans, 2001.
  26. 26.
    W. van der Aalst. Exterminating the dynamic change bug. A concrete approach to support workflow change. Information Systems Frontiers, 3(3):297–317, 2001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    C.-A. Wichert. ULTRA — A logic transaction programming language. PhD thesis, University of Passau, 2000.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    C.-A. Wichert, A. Fent, and B. Freitag. A logical framework for the specification of transactions (extended version). Technical Report MIP-0102, University of Passau (FMI), 2001.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfred Fent
    • 1
  • Herbert Reiter
    • 1
  • Burkhard Freitag
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of PassauPassauGermany

Personalised recommendations