Thursday Feb 27, 2014

Identifying HumanTask TaskId from IdentificationKey using XREF

Since Oracle BPM PS4FP there is an activity task called UpdateTask, which is able to alter a task within the process. By using it, we can Withdraw, Suspend or Resume a task based on the name of the task (implicitly using the activityId), all instantiated tasks within the process(generally used when we want to terminate the process), or using explicitly the instantiated task id.

Problem:  when multiple instances of the same task (instantiated within a multi-instance subprocess for example), how can I withdraw a specific instance only? On the paper, as mentioned above we can use the TaskId option in the UpdateTask to achieve this goal... but how to get the TaskId?

For once, the documentation could not be any help... it mentions that we can provide a "custom" TaskId during the Human Task instantiation, but without any further indication. So after multiple attempts, including modifying the execData/systemAttributes/taskId directly, I gave up the idea of trying to set my own TaskId. Instead, I explored another direction by checking how I can leverage the IdentificationKey that I have full control on, and when set properly I can definitely end up with a clean one-to-one mapping with the TaskId. The challenge is then to extract the mapping out.
Long story short, I will skip all the detail steps I went through before coming up with the following solution. I can only say that I initially start with using Event Task/Mediator to capture the IdentificationKey/TaskId couple, then creating a XREF definition and an utility service to handling the data lifecycle in the XREF map... A long, but necessary journey to end up with this final and clean solution, which can be considered as a generic pattern for others usages.

And as usual, you can download the complete project of the solution before hand here.

1. First of all, create a simple process with correlation including a multi-instance subprocess with parallel mode, so that we can instantiate multiple instances on a same Human Task at once. Of course, make sure that each instance can be uniquely identified by the IdentificationKey. In my case, I append the correlationId with the pre-defined variable loopCounter. (it is important to have the correlationId in the IdentificationKey,  I will explain later)

2. Create an event subprocess to take an input argument the IdentificationKey, from which we can extract the correlationId by leveraging the "#" character I specify above

3. Now we need to create a XREF definition file. This XREF definition will contain 2 columns - IdentificationKey & TaskId

4. In the XREF editor, check the option Optimize to "Yes", then "Generate Table DDL" By doing so, you will see a DDL statement to be executed into your SOAINFRA database. This table will be used as a key-value map, accessible via the out-of the box XREF XPath functions (more detail on XREF here)

5. This is the tricky part: DO NOT EXECUTE the ddl statement as it!
XREF is a generic feature for developer to temporary store process data directly into the SOAINFRA, shareable across multiple processes running from different context. In our case, the data are already present in the SOAINFRA schema, via the WFTASK table. So, we do not need to create the table, to populate, to lookup or to delete data into it. We just need to convert the CREATE TABLE ddl statement into a CREATE VIEW ddl statement to map out the IdentificationKey/TaskId (or any other process/task metadata that you would like to access from the BPM repository from your own process !!!).

6. Here's the CREATE VIEW that I used, but you can amend the WHERE condition to better fit your specific need. Run the view creation ddl into your database:


7. To finish, configure your UpdateTask activity by extracting the TaskId by using the XREF function with IdentificationKey as argument, and you are done !


Now, let's do a simple testing creating a process with 4 tasks instantiated together:

Then, just select one of the tasks to withdraw by selecting the withdrawTask operation and using the IdentificationKey as argument

Voila !!! 

Monday Jan 27, 2014

Extract Human Task Event payload detail in SOA Mediator

Oracle SOA/BPM Human Task provides a very powerful feature to generate Business Event upon a task assignment or completion. The associated Business Event will then be sent to the Oracle Event Delivery Network and it can be captured by a Mediator component, which in turn executes others services or processes, like creating a Microsoft Exchange Task with Reminder as nicely described from this blog entry.

When the information that you need from the Business Event is only related to the Task metadata (taskid, assignee, taskURL…) then the configuration is pretty straight forward as it is possible to extract each desired element easily from the XSL mapping tools. And there are plenty of blogs out there showing the step by step configuration for this purpose.

However, if you need to extract a specific ‘value’ from the Task payload, the picture suddenly becomes more complicated as the ‘payload’ element in the Business Event has a xsd:anyType type and it is not possible to “browse” the payload detail, hence mapping them out easily from the XSL Mapping tool in Jdeveloper for further processing.

To address to the problem there are 2 options: 

  1. (Easy but Restrictive) Map the specific values to be catch using the Human Task Mapped Attributes (or directly in the systemMessageAttributes in the execData). When doing so those values can not only be used for queries from BPM Workspace, and they will be mapped as the Task metadata so you can easily link them up during the XSL transformation. Nevertheless, every time you want to extract additional values, the Human Task has to be modified and the associated process needs to be redeployed. It is a valid option if you know exactly what you need upfront.

  2. (Relatively difficult but flexible) Fully utilize XSL Transformation capability to extract the “hidden” values from the payload element. This option requires more XML/XSL knowledge and not necessarily easy to comprehend. However it provides much more flexibility and it can have a completely independent design lifecycle from the original business process. This is the option we will explore in this post. If you want to get before hand the source code of the example below, you can download from here.

First of all, consider the following BPM Process with a very simple Human Task taking 2 Data arguments defined by the Business Object FirstBO and SecondBO. Please note a third Business Object ThirdBO is encapsulated within SecondBO.

Now let’s enable the Human Task to generate a Business Event upon the task assignment. To do this, open the Human Task, go to Event and check the box OnAssigned (Please note the other available option but there are not key in our current demonstration)

From the Business Process perspective we are all set. Now let’s consider the a separate SOA Composite Application which only contains a Mediator to capture the associated business event and an File Adaptor to extract write data into a file.

Once we link the Mediator to the File Adaptor, we can then generate a XSL stylesheet to transform the Human Task Event into service call to write data into a file. 

Now the challenge is to extract the Payload information within the stylesheet. This can be done via the XSL source mode with 3 major steps:

  1. Add all the namespace of the objects within the payload. Those namespaces can be retrieved either directly from the BO definition or the Human Task configuration page

  2.       xmlns:p1=""


  3. Create XSL variables, pointing to a specific argument of the Human Task with the Payload, using the namespaces defined above. In our case we have 2 arguments so we create 2 variables

  4. <xsl:variable name="">p1:firstPayload
    <xsl:variable name="p2:secondPayload"

  5. Finally, you can now manually extract each desired value from the XSL variable by using the XPath expression

            <xsl:value-of select="$p1:firstPayload/p1:one"/>
            <xsl:value-of select="$p1:firstPayload/p1:two"/>
            <xsl:value-of select="$p1:firstPayload/p1:three"/>
            <xsl:value-of select="$p2:secondPayload/p2:one"/>
            <xsl:value-of select="$p2:secondPayload/p2:two"/>
            <xsl:value-of select="$p2:secondPayload/p2:three/p3:one"/>
            <xsl:value-of select="$p2:secondPayload/p2:three/p3:two"/>

To get a complete view of the final XSL stylesheet, please download the source code of the 2 projects illustrated from here.

Now you can deploye both projects into your BPM domain, and you can initiate the SampleProcess to start the testing:

After the execution, monitor the process thread in FMW Control and you should see the execution on the Mediator upon the Human Task initialization. 

By clicking on the Mediator link you will be able to see the payload retrieved by the Mediator (Business Event):

And of course the transformed payload using the XSL Stylesheet we specified above:

Voilà ! Hope this entry is useful to you.

Thursday May 03, 2012

Extract emails list from Group ID for BPEL/BPM Notification service

Within Oracle SOA suite, it is possible to create email, SMS, fax or instant messaging based notification via the Notification task usable within BPEL or BPMN processes. For setting up the different communication channels, you can refer to this excellent blog from Rubicon Red -

However, unlike the notification within the Human Task where we can only provide user id or group id, we need to explicitly specify the email addresses or the phone numbers when using the Notification service independently. 

To address this need we can leverage the Identity Service functions available in BPEL to extract users properties. You can use the instructions below to extract those properties, either from an userid or from a groupid. But if you are lazy, you can download the SOA project with the processes below from here :)

Extract email address and mobile number from an userid

This step is fairly simple. We can use the Identity Service function 'ids:getUserProperty' to extract the user email address, or any other attribute available within the realm.

1. Create a synchronous BPEL process with the following input and output message type

2. Drag an Assign activity into the process 

3. Open the Assign Task, and drag the XPath Expression into the email attribute

4. Use the following expression to extract the email address from the userid ids:getUserProperty($inputVariable.payload/client:userid,'mail')

5. Then map the phone attribute using the expression ids:getUserProperty($inputVariable.payload/client:userid,'mobile') using the same approach

6. Finally, deploy and test the process

Extract email list from from a groupid

To extract an email list from a groupid, the process is a little bit more complicated. To summarize, there are 2 majors steps:

a. Extract the list of userid from the groupid, using the Identity Service function ids:getUsersInGroup()
b. Parse the userid list, and concatenate the email into a list from each userid, using the same ids:getUserProperty() as shown above

The challenge is to be able to extract the userid list, which is dynamic, and then be able to parse over this dynamic list to extract the property that we need. After some investigation, this is a way to achieve with a synchronous BPEL process

1. Create a synchronous BPEL process with the following variables

- usersList is mapped to the Users element specify in the XML schema here
- index and size are two int variables, with index initiated to "1" 

2. Drag and drop the Assign and While activities as shown below

3. In ExtractUsersList assign activity:

- Map the following functions onto $usersList/ns1:Users/ns1:user (using CopyList assignment) and $size:

--> $usersList/ns1:user

--> $size

4. In ParseUsersList while activity, use the following condition to loop over the $usersList/user elements 

5. Finally, in ConstructEmailsList assign activity add the logics to extract each email address and concatenate the result into a list with the seperator:


==>  $outputVariable.payload/client:emails

==> $index

6. The BPEL process is now completed. Deploy, and test it out !


Hi, I am Manh-Kiet Yap (known as Kiet @oracle) and I'm currently the Technical Director at the APAC Advanced Customer Services.

I've recently received my 15 years of long service award, after being successively Technical Consultant in France, Presales at Hong Kong, FMW Product Manager in EMEA, Presales Mgr in APAC and finally Architect at Oracle ACS.

With my 15 years experience around Middleware, I hope you will find this blog valuable if you are navigating around Oracle Fusion Middleware !

View Manh-Kiet Yap's profile on LinkedIn


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