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Orquesta Overview

Orquesta is a graph based workflow engine designed specifically for StackStorm. As a building block, Orquesta does not include all the parts such as messaging, persistence, and locking required to run as a service.

The engine consists of the workflow models that are decomposed from the language spec, the composer that composes the execution graph from the workflow models, and the conductor that directs the execution of the workflow using the graph.

A workflow definition is a structured YAML file that describes the intent of the workflow. A workflow is made up of one or more tasks. A task defines what action to execute, with what input. When a task completes, it can transition into other tasks based upon criteria. Tasks can also publish output for the next tasks. When there are no more tasks to execute, the workflow is complete.

Orquesta includes a native language spec for the workflow definition. The language spec is decomposed into various models and described with JSON schema. A workflow composer that understands the models converts the workflow definition into a directed graph. The nodes represent the tasks and edges are the task transition. The criteria for task transition is an attribute of the edge. The graph is the underpinning for conducting the workflow execution. The workflow definition is just syntactic sugar.

Orquesta allows for one or more language specs to be defined. So as long as the workflow definition, however structured, is composed into the expected graph, the workflow conductor can handle it.

The workflow execution graph can be a directed graph or a directed cycle graph. It can have one or more root nodes which are the starting tasks for the workflow. The graph can have branches that run in parallel and then converge back to a single branch. A single branch in the graph can diverge into multiple branches. The graph model exposes operations to identify starting tasks, get inbound and outbound task transitions, get connected tasks, and check if cycle exists. The graph serves more like a map for the conductor. It is stateless and does not contain any runtime data such as task status and result.

The workflow conductor traverses the graph, directs the flow of the workflow execution, and tracks runtime state of the execution. The conductor does not actually execute the action that is specified for the task. The action execution is perform by another provider such as StackStorm. The conductor directs the provider on what action to execute. As each action execution completes, the provider relays the status and result back to the conductor as an event. Then the conductor processes the event, keeps track of the sequence of task execution, manages change history of the runtime context, evaluate outbound task transitions, identifies any new tasks for execution, and determines the overall workflow status and result.

When there is no more tasks identified to run next, the workflow is complete. On workflow completion, regardless of status, the workflow result contains the list of error(s) if any and the output as defined in the workflow defintion. If the workflow failed, the workflow conductor will do its best to render the output from the latest version of the runtime context at completion of the workflow execution.