News Column

Patent Issued for Method and System for Processing Work Items

September 9, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Information Technology Newsweekly -- From Alexandria, Virginia, VerticalNews journalists report that a patent by the inventors Buesing, Rainer (Stuttgart, DE); Peinert, Christoph (Stuttgart, DE); Randt, Malte (Jettingen, DE); Seifert, Mathias (Stuttgart, DE), filed on February 21, 2012, was published online on August 26, 2014.

The patent's assignee for patent number 8819696 is International Business Machines Corporation (Armonk, NY).

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "In computer science, a work item is a piece of information defining a task or a set of related tasks to be carried out by a user or process. A workflow system is a data processing system for managing a flow of work items, typically in a distributed office environment. Typically, the workflow system has interfaces to various data stores which store documents to be processed and handled by the workflow system, and the workflow system provides these documents to the users when needed. A workflow system commonly contains at least a workflow modeling component (sometimes called specification module, design environment, or build time system) which enables administrators and analysts to define process and activities, analyze and simulate them, and assign them to people. A workflow system typically also contains a workflow execution component (sometimes called the run-time system) which most often consists of an execution interface seen by end-users and a workflow engine. The workflow engine is an execution environment which assists or performs the coordination of processes and activities.

"As depicted in FIG. 1, most workflow systems provide a client/server architecture, that is, an application architecture in which an instance of a client software, for example, an application 100 using a graphical user interface, can send work item requests to a server, for example, a service or component 101 of the workflow system to deliver work items from an associated database 102. By a work item request is meant any request identifying at least one work item, for example, according to a set of selection criteria.

"For instance, client applications may query the server to retrieve work items in a specific state, with specific properties for a specific user/group. This query is then transformed into native standard query language (SQL) queries against the server database. Because of the complex schema of this database, work item queries are often expensive and time consuming. This leads to sluggish responses on the client application.

"An existing solution for improving responses to work item queries is the use of materialized views in the work item database 102. This solution is discussed in the IBM whitepaper 'WebSphere Process Server V6--Business Process Choreographer: Performance Tuning of Human Workflows Using Materialized Views.' The problem in using materialized views is that it depends on the query criteria whether it is possible to use materialized views. The processing of all work item queries is thus not made more efficient.

"The invention that is presented here aims to address the response time problem in a manner that improves the processing of at least most of the queries."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "Briefly stated, a method for processing work items of a workflow system is done in the following manner. Information identifying work items from a server responsible for handling work items is retrieved based at least on a set of configuration rules. The information is stored in a cache. In response to a work item request form an application, matching work items are searched for in the cache, and a piece of information identifying the requested work item is delivered to the application in response to finding at least one work item matching the work item request from the application. Statistics on work item requests are maintained, and the set of configuration rules are modified according to the statistics.

"According to an embodiment of the invention, a computerized method for processing work items of a workflow system includes the steps of: (a) retrieving information identifying work items from a server responsible for handling work items based at least on a set of configuration rules; (b) storing the information in a cache; searching for matching work items in the cache in response to a work item request from an application, the work item request specifying at least one criterion for work items; (d) delivering, in response to finding at least one work item matching the work item request, a piece of information identifying the at least one matching work item from the cache to the application; (e) maintaining statistics on work item requests; and (f) modifying the set of configuration rules according to the statistics.

"According to an embodiment of the invention, a program storage device readable by a machine, tangibly embodying a program of instructions executable by a machine to perform method steps for processing work items of a workflow system, the method steps including (a) retrieving information identifying work items from a server responsible for handling work items based at least on a set of configuration rules; (b) storing the information in a cache; searching for matching work items in the cache in response to a work item request from an application, the work item request specifying at least one criterion for work items; (d) delivering, in response to finding at least one work item matching the work item request, a piece of information identifying the at least one matching work item from the cache to the application; (e) maintaining statistics on work item requests; and (f) modifying the set of configuration rules according to the statistics.

"According to an embodiment of the invention, a data processing system for caching work items includes a retrieval unit for retrieving information identifying work items from a server responsible for handling work items according to a set of configuration rules; cache memory for storing the information; a search unit for searching matching work items in the cache memory in response to a work item request from an application, the work item request specifying at least one criterion for work items; a delivery unit for delivering, in response to finding at least one work item matching the work item request, a piece of information identifying the at least one matching work item from the cache memory to the application; and a monitoring unit for maintaining statistics on the work item requests and for modifying the set of configuration rules according to the statistics.

"According to an embodiment of the invention, a data processing system for caching work items includes means for retrieving information identifying work items from a server responsible for handling work items according to a set of configuration rules; memory means for caching the information; means for searching matching work items in the cache memory in response to a work item request from an application, the work item request specifying at least one criterion for work items; means for delivering, in response to finding at least one work item matching the work item request, a piece of information identifying the at least one matching work item from the cache memory to the application; and means for maintaining statistics on the work item requests and for modifying the set of configuration rules according to the statistics.

"According to an embodiment of the invention, an article of manufacture including a computer useable medium having computer readable program code means embodied therein for processing work items of a workflow system, the computer readable program code means in the article of manufacture include (a) computer readable program code means for causing a computer to effect retrieving information identifying work items from a server responsible for handling work items according to a set of configuration rules; (b) computer readable program code means for causing the computer to effect caching the information; computer readable program code means for causing the computer to effect searching matching work items in the cache memory in response to a work item request from an application, the work item request specifying at least one criterion for work items; (d) computer readable program code means for causing the computer to effect delivering, in response to finding at least one work item matching the work item request, a piece of information identifying the at least one matching work item from the cache memory to the application; and (e) computer readable program code means for causing the computer to effect maintaining statistics on the work item requests and for modifying the set of configuration rules according to the statistics."

For additional information on this patent, see: Buesing, Rainer; Peinert, Christoph; Randt, Malte; Seifert, Mathias. Method and System for Processing Work Items. U.S. Patent Number 8819696, filed February 21, 2012, and published online on August 26, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8819696.PN.&OS=PN/8819696RS=PN/8819696

Keywords for this news article include: Information Technology, Information and Data Processing, International Business Machines Corporation.

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Source: Information Technology Newsweekly


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