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WfMC Wf-XML Demo

Observer Information Sheet

The Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC) Working Group 4 is assembling a demonstration of products that have implemented the Wf-XML protocol. We are looking for people interested in observing this demonstration.

Observer registration

I wish to receive information on observing the next Wf-XML demonstration
(ALL fields required)

Job Title:
Email: is email correct?

Note: fake, improper or incomplete names and companies will be discarded. Remember, if we don't have a valid email address we cannot contact you when the next demo is scheduled.

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Wf-XML is a web services protocol that can be used to a process engine remotely for the purpose of sending or retrieving the process definitions.  Most people are aware that various process definition languages have been developed in recent years; most famously is OASIS WS-BPEL, but equally notable is WfMC XPDL, as well as other specialized process definition languages.  The process definitions that are described by these languages are expected to be installed into a process engine for execution.  The language itself naturally does not define how to install the definition into the engine.  Instead, this is the role of Wf-XML.

The central concept is that there will be process design tools that specialize in allowing a user to edit a process definition which can consume and produce in a standard format.  There will be process engines that can execute it.  The process design tool uses Wf-XML to first list the process definitions that are loaded into the process engine, and then to retrieve a particular process definition.  Wf-XML also provides a way to update the process definition, as well as to install new process definitions.  More information on Wf-XML is included below.

As an observer of the demonstration, your responsibilities are very minimal.  You don’t actually have to do anything; you only need to indicate that you are interested in the results of the demonstration.

  1. You will be provided with a summary report of the results of the demonstration that will list the vendors that participated and their success in connecting to other vendor products.
  2. You will be listed by name and/or organizational name as being interested in the outcome of the demonstration.

You do not have to travel anywhere, as the demonstration will be on the Internet, and can be accessed equally well from any location.  You do not have to attend any meetings, but we have some conference calls and at least one face-to-face meeting where you may optionally attend to understand more about the protocol and the demonstration results. You do not have to review or comment on anything, but your comments are welcome on this openly developed protocol.  As an observer, you are not endorsing anything in any way.  You will, however, be authorized to access the demonstration directly for first hand experience if you chose.  By being listed, you are simply saying that you are interested in the outcome, success or failure, of the demonstration.

Your interest helps us attract a critical mass of vendors and products to participate.  We know that for any protocol to be successful there needs to be a critical mass of products that support the protocol.  Furthermore, the protocol needs to be shown to be capable of working between products from different vendors.  A vendor must invest time in preparing for a demonstration, and will participate only if influential people will take notice of the results. So you see, the demonstration is important, and your role is vital to its success.

The exact time and place is still to be determined.  If you are interested in being included as an observer of this demonstration, please make use of the sign up form provided above.


Update: Here are the slides (1MB zipped) from the live demonstration which took place on Monday, February 28 at the BPM Think Tank. This demo was repeated on March 11 at 0800 Pacific time with online observers only.

To become a PARTICIPANT in the next demonstration in the scenario role of Customer, Vendor or Retailer, follow the sign-up instructions here.

The discussion forum for feedback has been set up at

More information on Wf-XML 2.0 and ASAP can be found at:


ASAP/Wf-XML 2.0 Cookbook—Updated in Workflow Handbook 2005

Keith D Swenson, Fujitsu Software Corporation, United States
This paper is for those who have a process engine of some sort, and wish to implement a Wf-XML interface. At first, this may seem like a daunting task because the specifications are thick and formal. But, as you will see, the basic capability can be implemented quickly and easily. This paper will take you through the basics of what you need to know in order to quickly set up a foundation and demonstrate the most essential functions. The rest of the functionality can rest on this foundation. The approach is to do a small part of the implementation in order to understand how your particular process engine will fit with the protocol.


Wf-XML 2.0 (Current Draft) 337kb PDF
wfxml20.xsd (updated November 2005) 7kb


ASAP & Wf-XML Demo Scenario June 2004



ASAP/Wf-XML 2.0 Cookbook in Workflow Handbook 2004
This paper is for those who have a process engine of some sort, and wish to implement a Wf-XML interface. At first, this may seem like a daunting task because the specifications are thick and formal. But, as you will see, the basic capability can be implemented quickly and easily. This paper will take you through the basics of what you need to know in order to quickly set up a foundation and demonstrate the most essential functions. The rest of the functionality can rest on this foundation. The approach is to do a small part of the implementation in order to understand how your particular process engine will fit with the protocol.




Asynchronous Service Access Protocol (ASAP) Version 1.0
Working Draft G, June 4, 2004
asap.xsd (updated November 2005)


A good resource is the OASIS Cover Page on the subject:

bulletWf-XML 2.0/ASAP (October 2003)
ASAP_WfXML_2003_10.zip (zipped 158kb)

XML Based Protocol for Run-Time Integration of Process Engines
This document will:

Provide an executive overview


Specify the goals of Wf-XML as an extension of AWSP.


Explain how resource (object) model works and how URIs are used to invoke methods of those resources.


Specify preliminary details of the interface methods and parameters


Background Information
AWSP (Asynchronous Web Services Protocol )  June 2002 (Historical Reference ONLY)
(awsp-2002-04-05.zip).( zipped 497kb.)
In April 2002 at the San Francisco meeting of WfMC, the AWSP (Asynchronous Web Services Protocol was presented, discussed, and found to meet all the goals that had been identified at the Muenster meeting.  These goals specifically were (Layer on top of SOAP, Use XML Schema representation, Multiple Observers, Subscribe/Unsubscribe,Set process instance data).  Since that time: this work has evolved into the ASAP technical committee of OASIS, and has been entirely subsumed by that other work.  Please use this document only for historical reference, and refer instead to the ASAP working group (http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=asap) for current implementation information.

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Below is a list of frequently asked questions.

1          What is the relationship between Wf-XML and ASAP

Wf-XML is designed and implemented as an extension to the OASIS Asynchronous Service Access Protocol.  ASAP provides a standardized way that a program can start and monitor a program that might take a long time to complete.  It provides the capability to monitor the running service, and be informed of changes in its status.  Wf-XML extends this by providing additional standard web service operations that allow sending and retrieving the “program” or definition of the service which is provided.  A process engine has this behavior of providing a service that lasts a long time, and also being programmable by being able to install process definitions.

2          Why do we need a standard protocol for this?

Because it is anticipated that process editing tools and process execution tools might be produced by different vendors.  A standard way to retrieve process definitions and send definitions will allow a user to match the best process definition tool with the best process execution engine for their needs.  We already have groups defining process languages to give a common way to express a particular process definition.  Wf-XML completes the job by giving a standard way to pass the process definition between the design tool and the execution engine.

3          Where did Wf-XML come from?

The roots of the current effort began in 1997 with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) effort named Simple Workflow Access Protocol (SWAP) lead by Netscape, Oracle and others. This was followed by the WfMC standard known as WfXML 1.0 and WfXML 1.1.  Wf-XML was implemented by a number of commercial products.  Because it was invented before SOAP, it does not use SOAP message structures.  ASAP and WfXML 2.0 are efforts to move the same capability to be on top of SOAP messages, and to conform to other web standards that have come into existence in the mean time.

4          What would Wf-XML be used for?

Wf-XML is an ideal way for a BPM engine to invoke a process in another BPM engine, and to wait for it to completed.

5          How can Wf-XML be used by BP Design Tools?

Wf-XML provides a standard way to retrieve a process definition from a BPM engine, and to provide an updated one to the BPM engine.  A process design tool could used this standard web services based protocol to browse processes on remote BPM server.  It provides an interface between such a design tool and the BPM engine; this is the traditional WfMC Interface 1 for getting and setting the process definition.  There is no other effort known to be proposed for standardizing this interaction.

6          Does the protocol automatically convert the Process Definition Format?

No.  The protocol merely communicates the process definition to and from the client and server.  The process design tool and the process engine must be able to agree on a format to exchange.

7          How hard is it to implement?

At this point the underlying SOAP support is readily available, and because this uses web service technology in a normal way, it is quite easy to implement the 4 or 5 web service operations that are needed.

8          Is it really a web service?

The common definition of a web service is that the messages that are to be exchanged are defined using WSDL.  Since Wf-XML 2.0 is defined using WSDL, we say that Wf-XML is a standard web service.  We have been careful to assure this because only by strict adherence to the standard can we have the best chance to benefit from all the other work being done on web service standards.

9          Is it compatible with Wf-XML 1.1?

No.  The earlier protocol was not based on SOAP messages.  While it is based on many of the same ideas, we felt the conformance to SOAP standards was more important than ability to co-operate with earlier versions of the protocol.

10      Who is sponsoring the Demonstration of Wf-XML?

The Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC) is making the arrangements for the demonstration, and the publication of the results.

Any additional questions - please email [email protected]

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