Blocks: Workflow block

Maintained by Tim at Lone Pine Koala SanctuaryTim Hunt
This block allows you to manage the process of producing courses or activities. A workflow make it clear who is responsible for doing the next step, and what tasks they should be doing. The workflow can also assign and unassign roles, or automatically set certain settings, when the workflow moves from one step to the next.
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The Workflow system is used at the OU to manage the production of courses and some activities. It comprises a block and a related admin report.

A workflow (for our purposes) is a linear sequence of steps. A step has

  • a name
  • some instructions;
  • a check-list of actions;
  • a list of roles who are responsible for performing this step;
  • a list of actions that are taken automatically when the step is started/finished, for example assigning roles or changing activity settings.

The system allows the definition of different workflows. Each workflow has

  • a name
  • a description
  • an indication of the type of thing it relates to (e.g. ‘course’, ‘mod_quiz’)

Under Admin -> Plugins -> Blocks -> Workflow, there is an interface for Administrators to define and edit workflows, and to import and export workflow definitions as XML.

To use a workflow to manage the production of, say, a course, you go to the course, and add a workflow block to it. Initially, the block will display a message “There is currently no workflow associated with this course.” with an Add workflow button. Clicking the button allows you to select from any of the workflows that are appropriate for ‘course’.

When the workflow is added to the course, the first step in the workflow becomes active. The workflow block now displays the step instructions for the currently active step; the checklist items as a list of check-boxes; a comments area; a Finish step button; and a link to the workflow overview.

When a step becomes active, all the people responsible for completing the step are sent an email informing them that they should do the step. These people may also get an additional role assigned to them in the context the workflow applies to.

The comments area in the workflow block is a simple editable text area where people working on the step can leave notes for each other.

The Finish step button leads to a confirmation page. If the action is confirmed, then the workflow advances to the next step. When the last step of the workflow is finished, the workflow either stops, or loops back to one of the other steps.

The workflow overview gives an overview of all the steps in this workflow, and the progress through it. The system tracks the timestamp, and the user, each time a step is finished or made active.

The overview page also allows workflow administrators (those with an appropriate capability) to jump the workflow to any particular step.

There is also an admin reports that summarise the workflow across a selection of courses or activities.


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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Tim Hunt (Lead maintainer)
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  • Picture of Carlos Chiarella
    Tue, Jul 14, 2015, 6:21 AM
    There is a new version of the Workflow block (v 1.5). I cannot see a new version for the corresponding workflow report. Is that correct? Did only the Workflow block change?
  • Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
    Mon, Jul 27, 2015, 4:38 PM
    That is correct. The report is quite simple, so did not need changing. The block did need some changes to work with the latest Moodle, and also we added some small features, if I remember correctly.
  • Picture of Anderson Hsu
    Wed, Sep 2, 2015, 7:20 AM
    Dear all,
    We try setup a workflow report for course : , but when we generate the workflow report, it always show no data here. What's problem about it ? Thank you.
  • Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
    Mon, Sep 7, 2015, 7:40 PM
    Is the workflow being used by any course?
  • Picture of wera y
    Mon, Sep 21, 2015, 9:51 AM
    What is the item(“Items to complete for this step”)。
  • Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
    Mon, Sep 21, 2015, 6:16 PM
    When it is someone's turn to do a step in the workflow, they will see these items as a list of checkboxes in the workflow block, like a list of instructions. They can check them off as they do them.
  • Picture of Frank Smith
    Fri, Nov 13, 2015, 12:04 AM
    How do I set up a new email template, and could you confirm the syntax please ?
  • Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
    Fri, Nov 13, 2015, 3:13 AM
    Have you checked the "More documentation on this pugin" link above?

    Also, if you look in the code, there is a file blocks/workflow/tests/fixtures/testworkflow.workflow.xml which you can import, which can serve as an example. (It may not be the best example, it is just what is used by the automated testing.)

    If that is not enough help, please can you try asking a more specific question. I am sorry the documentation for this plugin is not better.
  • Picture of Frank Smith
    Thu, Dec 3, 2015, 9:21 PM
    I recently created a Workflow and made it accessible to a new role, Workflow administrator based on the Teaching Role.
    I've then assigned this Workflow to a GRID formatted course, and assigned one Tutor in the Course as a Workflow Administrator.
    Almost everything works - The Workflow administrator is the only person who can see and action the Workflow, Students can select Grid Items and they open normally.
    However, when teachers select Grid items they do not open in either the normal view or the editing view.
    Can anyone shed any light on this ?
  • Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
    Tue, Dec 15, 2015, 11:04 PM
    The latest version works fine in Moodle 3.0.
  • Picture of Manish Kumar
    Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 2:19 PM
    Hi All,
    I need some urgent help here. Can someone please send me a example of this workflow ? I want to create one for one of my course but unable to do so due to lack in knowledge of coding.
    I have gone through the full documentation and understand that there are some Commands for on step and completion step.
    I tried the test xml mentioned above by Tim , but still unable to get hang of this one.
    Manish Kumar
  • Picture of Manish Kumar
    Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 2:27 PM
    JSON.parse: unexpected end of data at line 1 column 1 of the JSON data
    Getting the above error while being logged as Manager

    Unexpected end of input
    Getting the above error while being logged as Admin

    When I click on FINISH STEP

    I have used Atto as well as Tiny to carry above steps but no change

  • Picture of Manish Kumar
    Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 2:28 PM
    While clicking on workflow overview I get the error

    Coding error detected, it must be fixed by a programmer: $course passed to moodle_page::set_course does not look like a proper course object.

    More information about this error

    I have installed Workflow Report as well on My Moodle which is 2.9 version
  • Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
    Mon, Apr 4, 2016, 11:35 PM
    Sorry for the slow reply. I was on holiday.

    1) exmple workflow: It is not a great example, but look at the file tests/fixtures/testworkflow.workflow.xml inside the block folder. Try importing that.

    2) Are you sure that you are using the latest version of this block? The latest version certainly works with Atto.

    3) Where have you added the block? It should be added to a particular course. I have not seen this errors or our system.
  • Picture of Tomasz Muras
    Wed, Aug 3, 2016, 2:54 AM
    Hi Tim,
    Just a thought - this page would look nicer if you could add a screenshot or two.
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