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Introduction to Workflows


An entity can have assigned workflows. It means that an entity view page has a list of passed steps and allowed transition buttons. When a user clicks a button with the start transition (and submits a transition form if it exists), then in the background, a new instance of a workflow item of a specific Workflow is created.

Each step has a list of allowed transitions, and each transition has a list of conditions that define whether this transition can be performed with a specific workflow item state. If transition is allowed, then the user can perform it. If the transition has Init Actions, they are executed before the transition. If the transition has Post Actions, then these Post Actions are performed right after the transition. So, the user can move the entity through the steps of a workflow until they reach the final step where Workflow finishes.

A workflow does not always need to have the final step, and the user can perform transitions until they are allowed.

A workflow item stores all collected data and the current step, so the user can stop their progress within the workflow at any moment and then return to it - the Workflow will have exactly the same state. Each workflow item represents the workflow started for a specific entity.

Entity Limitations

To be able to attach an entity to a specific workflow (e.g., make an entity workflow related), a few criteria should be met.

  • An entity cannot have composite fields as its primary keys.

  • Entity primary key can be an integer or a string (for doctrine types it is: BIGINT, DECIMAL, INTEGER, SMALLINT, STRING). In other words, all types that can be casted by SQL CAST to text representation.

  • An entity should be configurable.


All Workflow entities are described in the configuration. Below is an example of Workflow configuration that performs some action with User entity.

  1 workflows:
  2     example_user_flow:                            # name of the workflow
  3         entity: Oro\Bundle\UserBundle\Entity\User # workflow related entity
  4         entity_attribute: user                    # attribute name of current entity that can be used in configuration
  5         start_step: started                       # step that will be assigned automatically to new entities
  6         force_autostart: false                    # if `start_step` is defined: force start workflow on entity creation like from cli, message queue (without any filters like applications, scopes, features)
  7         steps_display_ordered: true               # defines whether all steps will be shown on view page in steps widget
  8         defaults:
  9             active: true                          # active by default
 10         exclusive_active_groups: [group_flow]     # active only single workflow for a specified groups
 11         exclusive_record_groups:
 12             - unique_run                          # only one started workflow for the `entity` from specified groups can exist at time
 13         priority: 100                             # has priority of 100
 14         applications: [ commerce ]                # web application availability level
 15         scopes:
 16             -                                     # definition of configuration for one scope
 17                 scopeField1: 42                   # context for scope will have field `scopeField1` and entity with id `42`
 18             -
 19                 scopeField1: 42
 20                 scopeField2: 3
 21                 scopeField3: 77
 22         steps:                                    # list of all existing steps in workflow
 23             started:                              # step where user should enter firstname and lastname
 24                 order: 10                         # order of step (ascending)
 25                 allowed_transitions:              # list of allowed transition from this step
 26                     - set_name                    # first name and last name should be entered on this transition
 27             processed:                            # step where user can review entered data
 28                 order: 20                         # steps will be shown in ascending
 29                 allowed_transitions:              # order of step
 30                    - add_email                    # new email should be added on this transition
 31         attributes:                                           # list of all existing attributes in workflow
 32             first_name:                                       # first name of a user
 33                 property_path: user.firstName                 # path to entity property (automatically defined attribute metadata)
 34             middle_name:                                      # middle name of a user
 35                 property_path: user.middleName                # path to entity property (automatically defined attribute metadata)
 36             last_name:                                        # last name of a user
 37                 property_path: user.lastName                  # path to entity property (automatically defined attribute metadata)
 38             email_string:                                     # email string temporary attribute
 39                 type: string                                  # attribute type
 40             email_entity:                                     # email entity temporary attribute
 41                 type: entity                                  # attribute type
 42                 options:                                      # attribute options
 43                     class: Oro\Bundle\UserBundle\Entity\Email # entity class name
 45         transitions:                                        # list of all existing transitions in workflow
 46             set_name:                                       # transition from step "started" to "processed"
 47                 step_to: processed                          # next step after transition performing
 48                 transition_definition: set_name_definition  # link to definition of conditions and post actions
 49                 form_options:                               # options which will be passed to form type of transition
 50                     attribute_fields:                       # list of attribute fields which will be shown
 51                         first_name:                         # attribute name
 52                             options:                        # list of form field options
 53                                 required: true              # define this field as required
 54                                 constraints:                # list of constraints
 55                                     - NotBlank: ~           # this field must be filled
 56                         middle_name: ~                      # attribute name
 57                         last_name:                          # attribute name
 58                             options:                        # list of form field options
 59                                 required: true              # define this field as required
 60                                 constraints:                # list of constraints
 61                                     - NotBlank: ~           # this field must be filled
 62                 display_type: page                          # form will be opened in separate page
 63                 destination_page: index                     # after submitting form will be opened index page of workflow`s related entity
 64             add_email:                                      # transition from step "processed" to "processed" (self-transition)
 65                 step_to: processed                          # next step after transition performing
 66                 transition_definition: add_email_definition # link to definition of conditions and post actions
 67                 form_options:                               # options which will be passed to form type of transition
 68                     attribute_fields:                       # list of attribute fields which will be shown
 69                         email_string:                       # attribute name
 70                             options:                        # list of form field options
 71                                 required: true              # define this field as required
 72                                 constraints:                # list of constraints
 73                                     - NotBlank: ~           # this field must be filled
 74                                     - Email: ~              # field must contain valid email
 75             schedule_transition:                                            # transition from step "processed" to "processed" (self-transition)
 76                 step_to: processed                                          # next step after transition performing
 77                 transition_definition: schedule_transition_definition       # link to definition of conditions and post actions
 78                 triggers:                                                   # transition triggers
 79                     -
 80                         cron: '* * * * *'                                   # cron definition
 81                         filter: "e.someStatus = 'OPEN'"                     # dql-filter
 82                     -
 83                         entity_class: Oro\Bundle\SaleBundle\Entity\Quote    # entity class
 84                         event: update                                       # event type
 85                         field: status                                       # updated field
 86                         queued: false                                       # handle trigger not in queue
 87                         relation: user                                      # relation to Workflow entity
 88                         require: "entity.status = 'pending'"                # expression language condition
 89         transition_definitions:                                   # list of all existing transition definitions
 90             set_name_definition: []                               # definitions for transition "set_name", no extra conditions or actions here
 91             add_email_definition:                                 # definition for transition "add_email"
 92                 actions:                                          # list of action which will be performed after transition
 93                     - '@create_entity':                           # create email entity
 94                         class: Oro\Bundle\UserBundle\Entity\Email # entity class
 95                         attribute: $email_entity                  # entity attribute that should store this entity
 96                         data:                                     # data for creating entity
 97                             email: $email_string                  # entered email
 98                             user: $user                           # current user
 99                     - '@call_method':                             # call specific method from entity class
100                         object: $user                             # object that should call method
101                         method: addEmail                          # method that should be called
102                         method_parameters:                        # parameters that will be passed to the called method
103                             [$email_entity]                       # add email from temporary attribute
104                     - '@unset_value':                             # unset temporary properties
105                             [$email_string, $email_entity]        # clear email string and entity
106             schedule_transition_definition:                       # definitions for transition "schedule_transition", no extra conditions or actions here
107                 actions:                                          # list of action which will be performed after transition
108                     - '@assign_value': [$user.status, 'processed']# change user's status

This configuration describes Workflow that includes two transitions - “set_name” and “add_email”.

On step “started”, a user can update the full name (first, middle and last name) using transition “set_name”. Then on step “processed”, the user can add additional emails using transition “add_email”.

To perform transition “set_name”, the user should fill first and last name, the middle name is optional. After this transition, the provided data is automatically set to the user through the attribute property paths. To perform transition “add_email”, the user must enter a valid email - it must not be empty and must have a valid format. This transition creates a new Email entity with the assigned email string and User entity, then adds it to the User entity to create a connection, and clears temporary attributes in last action.

There are 2 triggers that will try to perform transition schedule_transition by cron definition, or when field status of entity with class`Oro\Bundle\SaleBundle\Entity\Quote` is updated.

The following diagram shows this logic in graphical representation.



If you want to test this flow in real application, you can place this configuration in file Oro/Bundle/UserBundle/Resources/config/oro/workflows.yml, reload definitions using the console command bin/console oro:workflow:definitions:load, and activate it from the UI. Next, you can go to the User view page and test it.

Console Commands

WorkflowBundle provides following console commands to work with workflows.


This command loads workflow’s configurations from .yml configuration files to the database. It is used during application installation and update processes. The command has two optional options:

  • –directories - specifies directories used to find configuration files (multiple values allowed);

  • –workflows - specifies the names of the workflows that should be loaded (multiple values allowed).


You must execute this command every time workflow configurations are changed in the .yml files.


This command performs transitions with specified name for the WorkflowItem with a specified ID. It is used to perform scheduled transitions. The command has two required option:

  • –workflow-item - the identifier of WorkflowItem.

  • –transition - the name of Transition.


This command handles workflow transition cron trigger with specified identifier. The command has one required option:

  • –id - identifier of the transition cron trigger.

Main Entities

Workflow consists of several related entities.

  • Step is an entity that shows the current status of the workflow. Before rendering each transitions, check if it is allowed for the current workflow item. It contains the name and the list of allowed transitions. The entity involved in the workflow has a relation to the current workflow step.

  • Attribute is an entity that represents one value in the workflow item, used to render the field value on a step form. Attribute knows about its type (string, object, entity etc.) and additional options. Attribute contains name.

  • Transition is an action that changes the current step of the workflow item (i.e., moves it from one step to another). The transition is allowed if its conditions are satisfied. Before the transition is performed, Init Actions are executed; and after the transition is performed, Post Actions are executed. A transition can be used as a start transition; it means that this transition starts the Workflow and creates a new instance of the workflow item. Transitions optionally can have a form. In this case, this form is shown to user when the transition button is clicked. The transition contains name and some additional options. Optionally, the transition can contain a form with a list of attributes.

  • Condition defines whether a specific transition is allowed with the specified input data. Conditions can be nested.

  • Actions are assigned to the transition and executed when the transition is performed. There are two kinds of actions: Init Action and Post Actions. The difference between them is that Init Actions are executed before the Transition and Post Actions are executed after the transition. Actions can be used to manage entities (create, find), manipulate attributes (e.g., assign values) and perform any other action.

  • Workflow aggregates steps, attributes, and transitions. A workflow is a model that does not have its own state but it can be referred by the workflow items.

  • Workflow Data container is aggregated by the workflow item where each value is associated with an attribute. Those values can be entered by the user directly or assigned via Actions.

  • Workflow Item is associated with the workflow and indirectly associated with Steps, Transitions and Attributes. It has its own state in the workflow data, the current step, and other data. The workflow item stores the entity identifier and the entity class that has an associated workflow.

  • TransitionTriggerEvent allows to perform a transition when during an entity event Doctrine triggers a corresponding event.

  • TransitionTriggerCron allows to perform a transition by cron definition.