Configuration

Configuring a repoze.workflow workflow requires an understanding of its terminology.

A workflow’s type is a string, such as “security”. You use this identifier to look up the workflow later. A workflow’s content type is a Python class or interface. You also use this value to look up a workflow later. An elector is a function which returns true or false; it operates on a “context” which you pass to a function named get_workflow which looks up the workflow. The state_attr of a workflow is the attribute of content objects which will be managed by the workflow. The state of the content object (a string) will be kept on this attribute.

A workflow contains states and transitions. The main job of a workflow is to transition objects into states. It can also check that a user possesses a permission before executing a transition.

A state is a workflow “end point” associated with a piece of content. A state can be associated with a callback. A callback is a Python callable that accepts two arguments: a content and a info object. The content object is the object being workflowed. The info object is an object which has access to information about the transition currently being undergone, the workflow, and other attributes.

A transition is the step from one state to another. A transition may also be associated with a callback. The callback associated with a transition is called as the transition is executed. The execution of a transition callback happens before the execution the state callback of the target state. A transition may also be associated with a permission (an arbitrary string such as “administer” or “moderate”).

More than one workflow can be used simultaneously in the same system. A workflow is unique in a system using multiple workflows if the combination of its type, its content type, its elector, and its state_attr are different than the combination of those attributes configured in any other workflow.

repoze.workflow workflows are configured using a combination of ZCML and Python.

You may use ZCML to define states and transitions, instead of composing them imperatively.

Here’s an example of the ZCML portion of a repoze.workflow workflow.

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<configure xmlns="http://namespaces.repoze.org/bfg">

<include package="repoze.workflow" file="meta.zcml"/>

<workflow
   type="security"
   name="the workflow"
   state_attr="state"
   initial_state="private"
   content_types=".dummy.IContent"
   permission_checker="repoze.bfg.security.has_permission"
   >

   <state name="private"
      callback=".dummy.callback">
        <key name="title" value="Private"/>
        <key name="description" value="Nobody can see it"/>
   </state>

   <state name="public"
      callback=".dummy.callback">
     <key name="title" value="Public"/>
     <key name="description" value="Everybody can see it"/>
   </state>

   <transition
      name="public_to_private"
      callback=".dummy.callback"
      from_state="public"
      to_state="private"
      permission="moderate"
      />

   <transition
      name="private_to_public"
      callback=".dummy.callback"
      from_state="private"
      to_state="public"
      permission="moderate"
      />

</workflow>

</configure>

The workflow Tag

The workflow ZCML tag defines a workflow. It has the following attributes:

type

The workflow type. This is attribute is required. It should be a string, indicating the situation in which it’s used (e.g. “security”). Multiple workflows configured in a system may share the same type.

name

A short name for the workflow. This attribute is required; it should be a short description of the purpose of the workflow.

description

A longer description (than the name) of the workflow. This attribute is not required; it defaults to the empty string.

initial_state

The initial state of content initialized into the workflow. This attribute is required. The details of the state referred to in this attribute must be declared via a state tag within the workflow definition. If it is not, a configuration error will be raised at startup time.

state_attr

The name of the attribute of the content object that will be used to retain the workflow state name. This attribute is required.

content_types

A sequence of Python dotted-names separated with space characters. Each dotted name refers to a class or a Zope interface. This workflow will be considered as a return candidate when looked up via the get_workflow function if the one of the classes or interfaces passed as the content_type argument to get_workflow is an instance of one of these classes or implements one of these interfaces (directly or indirectly). This attribute is not required. If it is not supplied, the workflow will be considered for all content types.

elector

A Python dotted-name referring to a callback. When get_workflow is called with a context argument, if a workflow names an elector the workflow will be considered as a candidate workflow if the elector is called and returns true. elector allows an object to participate in one workflow or another based on the context passed to get_workflow.

permission_checker

A Python dotted-name referring to a permission checking function. This function should accept three arguments: permission (a string), context and request. It should return True if the current user implied by the request has the permission in the context, False otherwise.

A workflow tag may contain transition and state tags. A workflow declared via ZCML is unique amongst all workflows defined if the combination of its type, its content_types and its container_type are unique. If the combination of these three attributes is the same for any two workflows defined in ZCML, a configuration conflict error will be raised at startup time.

The state Tag

A state tag is a subtag of a workflow tag. It defines a state in a workflow. A callback may be associated with that state. When a callback is associated with a state, the code in the callback is run, presumably to mutate the content object being transitioned.

The state tag has these attributes:

name

The state name. This attribute is required. Each state name must be unique within a given workflow.

title

The state title. This attribute is optional. If the title is not supplied, it will be presented as None in the representation of states used programmatically (except in the case of usage of the IWorkflow.state_info API; it presents the title as the same value as state_name if the title attribute is None).

callback

A Python dotted name that points at a callable object. This attribute is not required. If it is omitted, no callback will be associated with this state. See Callbacks for more information about callbacks.

The transition Tag

A transition tag is a subtag of a workflow tag. It defines a transition between two states in a workflow. A callback may be associated with a transition. When a callback is associated with a transition, the code in the callback is run, presumably to mutate the content object being transitioned. A transition callback is called before the state callback (if any) of the target state.

The transition tag accepts the following attributes:

name

The transition name (a string). This attribute is required. All transition names within a workflow must be unique.

from_state

The name of the “from” state for this transition. This attribute is required. It must match one of the state names defined in a previous state tag.

to_state

The name of the “to” state for this transition. This attribute is required. It must match one of the state names defined in a previous state tag.

permission

The permission name (a string) associated with this transition. Before the workflow machinery attempts to execute a transition, this permission is checked against the current set of credentials and the content object using the workflow’s permission_checker. If the transition cannot be executed because the user does not possess this permission in that set of circumstates, a WorkflowError is raised. This attribute is optional. If it is not supplied, no permission is associated with this transition, and it may be executed without respect to the current user’s credentials.

callback

A Python dotted name which points at a “callback”. See Callbacks.

The key Tag

The key tag can be used within a state or transition tag. It allows you to associate arbitrary textual key/value pairs with the state or the transition in which it is contained. For example:

<state name="foo">
   <key name="favorite_color" value="blue"/>
</state>

It can also be used within a transition tag:

<transition name="foo"
            from_state="from"
            to_state="to">
   <key name="favorite_color" value="blue"/>
</transition>

When the key tag is used within a state tag, the key/value pairs are accessible within the data element of each dictionary returned by the workflow.state_info method. When the key tag is used within a transition tag, the key/value pair it represents is accessible within the transition dictionary of the info object passed to a callback, or within data obtained via workflow.get_transitions.

The alias Tag

The alias tag may only be used within a state tag. The alias tag creates a state name alias. If a content object has a state_attr attribute that matches the state’s name or any of its aliases, it will be considered to be in that state, according to e.g. workflow.state_of, etc.

Callbacks

Callback objects (both transition callbacks and state callbacks) should accept two positional arguments: content and info. The info argument will be an object which has (at least) two attributes:

  • transition: a dictionary representing the current transition.
  • workflow: the workflow object which initiated this callback

The content argument will be the content object that is being transitioned.

Here’s an example of a callback:

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 def to_inherits(content, info):
     if hasattr(content, '__acl__'):
         del content.__acl__

This callback deletes an __acl__ attribute from the content object (if it exists) when it is called.

Executing a Configuration

To execute a ZCML-configured set of workflows, do the following.

If your ZCML file is in a package (and contains package-relative dotted names), use the following:

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import mypackage

from zope.configuration import xmlconfig
xmlconfig.file('configure.zcml', mypackage, execute=True)

If your ZCML file does not live in a package (and does not contain package-relative dotted names), use the following:

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from zope.configuration import xmlconfig
xmlconfig.file('/path/to/configure.zcml', execute=True)

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