Essential Workflow Manager vocabulary

This topic applies to ArcEditor and ArcInfo only.

The power of ArcGIS Workflow Manager is really in its ability to track many units of work concurrently. The applications allow authorized users to create, assign, and execute individual units of work, or jobs. At any time throughout the life cycle of the job, the progress can be checked by accessing the information through a single application. Workflow Manager maintains a wealth of metadata about the job, including a detailed history log of everything that happened regarding the job.

What is a job?

A job is basically a single unit of work that is carried out within an organization. It may have one or many people working on it. It could work with a single dataset, multiple datasets, or even no data at all.

Job type

Job types provide a way to categorize your work and processes. Although all jobs differ in some ways, there are usually commonalities that can be extracted and standardized. Job types allow you to group similar types of work together. In doing this, you provide templates for each unit of work you manage, making the creation and execution of that work more efficient.

By defining properties and components that are consistent throughout all jobs of a specific type, you will reduce preparation time significantly. ArcGIS Workflow Manager also opens up the possibility for easily querying metrics, as job comparison is much simpler for tasks that started out exactly the same.

In standardizing the way work is done, your users will become more efficient at their tasks. Once all jobs are streamlined into a few discrete types, it may also be possible to extract components or tasks that can be automated.


Workflows are collections of steps that users execute while working on a job. Workflows are designed to organize and simplify tasks to ensure that no step is missed. Workflows in ArcGIS Workflow Manager take on a dynamic approach, as tasks may be associated with customized executables, support automation, and can be configured on a number of levels. For extra flexibility and job restraint, job workflows may be dependent on other job workflows. Even steps may be assigned on the fly and branched based on conditional parameters.

Step type

Step types are the building blocks of your workflows. They provide the basic information as to what happens when the step is executed and how it is represented. When a step type is added to a workflow, it becomes a step but still references all the properties of the original step type. Multiple occurrences of a step type can appear in a single workflow.

Job history

ArcGIS Workflow Manager comes equipped with an automated job history. When a new activity has been performed on a job such as creation, reassignment, step execution, workflow modification, and so forth, the history log is automatically updated with the date/time stamp, the user who performed the activity, and information regarding the activity itself. Activities are managed by an activity type as defined in the ArcGIS Workflow Manager Administrator. When an activity occurs matching the activity type, the history log is updated. Users can create their own custom comments and history notes.

The job history makes it quick and easy to find how many times a particular step was done or what activities have already taken place. It is a simple way for managers to check job progress and monitor the efficiency of the workflow.

Data workspace

Data workspaces contain the data that users will work with while executing their jobs. Users can switch between data workspaces, allowing them to work on data stored in multiple locations during the same job.

Area of interest

The area of interest (AOI) is the geographic extent of a job. This helps confine the unit of work to a geographic area. It also helps managers and users track where edits are in progress to avoid conflicts and prioritize and coordinate activities among many users and user groups. The AOIs for all jobs are stored in a special feature class in the database maintained by ArcGIS Workflow Manager.

Querying and reporting

These allow you to extract and display information that meets a certain criteria from your ArcGIS Workflow Manager system.

ArcGIS Workflow Manager provides tools to allow you to quickly query and report on all the work you currently have in progress. All the information stored in the ArcGIS Workflow Manager repository can be used to define queries for finding specific jobs or for creating simple reports.


A way of sending alerts to members of staff automatically when events happen in the ArcGIS Workflow Manager system, for example, when a task needs attention or a major element of the job changed.

Consequently, users can confidently work on the important jobs without worrying about missing new job assignments or failing to meet proper job correspondence.

ArcGIS Workflow Manager provides e-mail notifications for job events. A user who has subscribed to a particular notification type will receive an e-mail once the event has occurred. For instance, when a quality assurance technician is subscribed to step assignments, and the map design team finishes designing a map, it will reassign the job to the quality assurance technician for further processing. Since the technician is a subscriber to step assignments, the user will receive an e-mail notifying him or her of the assignment.

Published 6/7/2010