How to Customize the Workflow Manager

In this last blog post from the series of blog posts focused on Advanced Workflow module, I will show you how you can customize the WorkflowManager class to provide the last missing piece in the process of creating a custom Parallel Approval action.


In my previous blog post I showed you the steps needed to create a custom workflow action. The goal was to create an action to provide a support for Parallel approval. You can read more details here. When a user rejects the document, and it is sent to the custom approval step before the custom action, the list of managers stored in the document data is not cleared and the Parallel approval action doesn't work as expected. This is where the manager customization takes action.

Customizing providers, helpers and managers

In Kentico CMS you can customize several classes using the approach mentioned in our documentation. In version 7, you basically have two options for customizing the providers. The first is to programmatically provide the instance of a custom provider. The second is to use the extensibility section in the web.config file. For helpers and managers, only the latter can be used.

To make customization more straightforward, version 8 will bring an even better and easier way for all three customization methods, without the need of web.config file modification.

Please note: The customization of the managers is not possible in version 7 without hotfix 7.0.5 or later applied!

Custom WorkflowManager

To customize the manager class there are two basic steps to follow:

Change the web.config file

First of all I need to define the cms.extensibility configuration section:
<?xml version="1.0"?> <configuration xmlns=""> <configSections> <!-- Extensibility section --> <section name="cms.extensibility" type="CMS.SettingsProvider.CMSExtensibilitySection" /> <!-- Extensibility section END --> </configSections>

Now I can define the assembly and class for the custom manager implementation:
<!-- Extensibility section BEGIN --> <cms.extensibility> <managers> <add name="WorkflowManager" assembly="App_Code" type="CustomWorkflowManager" /> </managers> </cms.extensibility> <!-- Extensibility section END --> </configuration>

As you can see, I've decided to implement the custom manager using the App_Code folder. The reason was to be able to easily include the implementation to the export package, available for download at the end of this blog post.

Implement the logic

Since I already have the custom class registered in the system, I need to provide the implementation.

Because I want to customize the WorkflowManager class, I need to inherit from this class:
/// <summary> /// Custom workflow manager /// </summary> public class CustomWorkflowManager : WorkflowManager {

Also I need to provide the default class constructor to be able to create the instance of the custom class:
/// <summary> /// Constructor /// </summary> public CustomWorkflowManager() : base(null) { }

Now I need to customize the behavior of the manager, when the process is moved to previous step. This is why I need to override the MoveToPreviousStepInternal method:
protected override WorkflowStepInfo MoveToPreviousStepInternal(TreeNode node, WorkflowStepInfo step, string comment) { // Get custom parallel approval action definition var parallelAction = WorkflowActionInfoProvider.GetWorkflowActionInfo("ParallelApprovalAction", WorkflowTypeEnum.Approval); // There is custom action for Parallel approval if (parallelAction != null) { // Get previous step var previousStep = GetPreviousStepInfo(node); // There is custom action and the document was rejected to the action step of this custom action if (NextStepIsCustomAction(previousStep, parallelAction)) { // Clear managers list ClearManagersList(node); // Move to previous approval step return MoveToPreviousApprovalStep(node, previousStep, comment); } } // Move to previous step the standard way return base.MoveToPreviousStepInternal(node, step, comment); }

The code simply checks whether there is the Parallel approval action definition. If there is, and the next step of the previous one is the Parallel approval action step, it clears the list of managers stored in the document data and moves the document to the previous step. You can find the complete code of the implementation in the export package linked below.


That's it. By following just two basic steps, you can customize the manager class and provide your additional functionality to the system. As mentioned previously, these steps will be more straightforward in version 8, making the customization even easier.

Please find the export package here. It contains a workflow process definition with the Parallel approval action, the Parallel approval action definition and the implementation itself, together with the WorkflowManager class customization described in this blog post. Feel free to download it and customize it for your needs.

I believe you find the series on the Advanced Workflow module useful.
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Jaroslav Kordula

Jaroslav joined Kentico in 2006. He is a Technical Leader in a development team whose main focus is content management. This includes Documents, Custom tables, Media libraries and other related functionality.