Trying out the new z/OSMF Workflow Editor

I've been working on a new SHARE lab for San Jose for the new z/OSMF Workflow Editor.  I thought I'd put some thoughts here on how it's going.  Remember, I was very familiar with the XML schema for Workflows, since we did the z/OS Migration Workflow "by hand".  We used Notepad++ as our editor, so now I'm trying to move over to the z/OSMF Workflow Editor.  This might not be your experience, if you are unfamiliar with how Workflows are constructed.

Here goes...

  1. You need to get the PTFs installed for the z/OSMF Workflow Editor.  It is provided in z/OS V2.2 PTF UI42847 (closed January 3, 2017), and the z/OSMF V2.1 APAR PI71068 (started to closed January 20, 2017).  There are a lot of PREreqs for these PTFs, so be prepared.  A side note:  the Workflow Editor is included in these PTFs which was released for "IBM Cloud Provisioning and Management enhancements".  I see no mention of Workflow Editor anywhere in the APARs, so using "Workflow Editor" as a search term doesn't do any good.
  2. Everyone gets the Workflow Editor, just like everyone gets Workflow in the z/OSMF core.  So you don't need to update IZUPRMxx for it as a plug-in.  It's just there on the left side bar (after a stop/restart of the server).
  3. It really helps to know what is meant by the Workflow terminology ahead of time, such as:  definition file, variable, template, ...  If you don't know, there is help.  I am going to admit, the help still needs more help, because the explanations sometimes are rather short and recursively use the same words that the term is ("variable name is the name of the variable"), and doesn't give context on how it's used.  Still though, there are some spots of the help that do assist.  Some of the features of the Workflow we didn't use for the z/OS Migration Workflow, so I wasn't sure what it was asking for and if I needed it or wanted it.  While I'm on it, the error messages could be more specific.  This is something the writer is well aware of, and I know he'll be enhancing this.  
  4. I love that the Workflow Editor will never create an invalid Workflow!  Gone are the days when I'd use Notepad++ to make a change, upload to the host, try to create a Workflow in z/OSMF and have a schema validation problem.  Then I'd have to start the whole thing over again.  I know when I've saved the Workflow from the Workflow Editor, it **will** create a Workflow fine for the user.  Now it might not be what I wanted, but as least I can save lots of time by avoiding silly errors.
  5. I was very pleasantly surprised by the ability to create a "Step Library" in the first release of this function. This gives you the ability to create a common step that you might want to include in several Workflows, and export that step into a Step Library.  Then, I can import that step into any new or changed Workflow that I'm doing.   There are some considerations if you use variables for the exported steps, but I can certainly live with that.   I'm surprised that this wasn't something was added in later enhancement, so I'm very happy it's there Day One.
  6. The path through the Workflow Editor was very difficult for me to follow at first.  Meaning, I had expected there to be a "mini-wizard" to guide me through each of the things I might want to do in my Workflow.  You really are just put "in there" and you have to move to where you want.  That really threw me for a loop at first.  So much so that my first two sessions on it were a waste of time.  Finally, after talking with the development team and the writer for an hour and half and having them walk me through it, I realized that putting the path through the Workflow Editor in the context of a mini-wizard was wrong.  You need to have in mind what you want in your Workflow first, probably know what terms you need (see #3), and then click on those areas as you go.  

I'm working into my SHARE lab for the Workflow Editor (Tues, 13:45) all the hints and tips I needed to become productive.  I'm  hoping that this will save others time by learning from my mistakes.  This lab will be the same time as all the other z/OSMF labs we've been giving for a while.  This Workflow Editor is just an addition to the existing half-dozen that you've already been doing for while (or if you haven't, you should be!)

I'm looking forward to chatting to folks about their Workflow Editor experience in San Jose!


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