Workflow systems seek to provide an implementation vehicle for complex, recurring business processes. Notwithstanding this common objective, there are a variety of distinct features offered by commercial workflow management systems. These differences result in significant variations in the ability of distinct tools to represent and implement the plethora of requirements that may arise in contemporary business processes. Many of these requirements recur quite frequently during the requirements analysis activity for workflow systems and abstractions of these requirements serve as a useful means of identifying the key components of workflow languages. In this paper, we describe a series of
workflow data patterns
that aim to capture the various ways in which data is represented and utilised in workflows. By delineating these patterns in a form that is independent of specific workflow technologies and modelling languages, we are able to provide a comprehensive treatment of the workflow data perspective and we subsequently use these patterns as the basis for a detailed comparison of a number of commercially available workflow management systems, workflow standards and web-service composition languages.
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