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Version: 1.17

Execution Context

Audience: Citizen Developer

Skill Prerequisites: C# Data Structures JavaScript

Introductions#

The execution context(Action Context) is the container in which all contextual information and dynamic information(tokens) during the execution of a workflow exists. The purpose of this container is to give you access to data, help us log failures and generally make your life easier by letting you know about what happens during the workflow.

Context data and the types of workflows#

There are two different type of workflows. Inline workflows, which are defined in forms, grids and other modules. And normal workflows, those which you can define in the Workflows section of the app.

One thing which should be noted about contextual data in both workflows is that they do not persist between runs and they are not shared across different inline workflows(i.e. initialization workflow and submit workflow of a form). The inline workflows execute at different times and all represent a different part of the life cycle of a module. While this statement will always hold true, no matter the number of workflows and which event they are defined on, data will be available to all actions in the same workflow in a subsequent order with the exception of some actions which will take a copy of the context and leave it untouched even after they executed.

The contents of the context#

The context holds data about the current environment, such as the user or the page, but also, information that is automatically injected such as:

  • Form fields in the case of form
  • Grid fields in the case of grids
  • Input parameters for normal workflows
  • Query String and POST data for APIs
  • Database columns for database triggers and email information for mail triggers

More so, the data that is stored in the context is available in different forms for the user.

  • Tokens when used inside actions
  • C# variables when used in Razor actions
  • JS variables when used in JavaScript actions

Depending on where it's used, a token can either come as a string, or be casted to it's actual type in the case of the Razor/JavaScript actions. Plant An App also tries to cast the values used for conditions to booleans whenever possible.

Actions and their interactions with the context#

Depending on the action used, it interacts differently with the context. Some actions take the context as it is during its execution while others make a copy of the context and either leave the parent context untouched or it merges the modifications back in the original one, but no matter the behavior it has, after the end of the flow, the context is destroyed after the last action has executed or when a final action is used. In the case of async actions, which do one part of their execution at one moment and another part at a later time, the context is saved in a persistent cache which is brought back from the database as soon as it's needed. And a form can also save its field values as a type of mock-context through the State actions.

There are some actions which can modify the metadata information inside the context such as Load User, but this is generally an exception and it only applies to the Load User action. Non-metadata information is easier to overwrite, usually done when executing the Inject Data action. However, beware that injecting an empty string into a token of the context will not delete that token from the context, it will simply bring back an empty string every time that it's used after the Inject Data action.

In the case of recursive tokens, those which refer to other tokens, they won't be replaced recursively unless an Apply Token action is used with the necessary number of recursions.

The context is created from scratch every single run, this ensures no collisions or synchronization issues take place between the runs.

Action Context object, accessing and structure#

The Action Context is the object which contains all the data about the state of the app. You can gain access to it by implementing the IActionImpl interface. The interface exposes the Init and Execute methods, of which you will most often use Execute. The Execute method receives a context variable of Action Context type. The Action Context object contains two important pieces, the Metadata objects and the DataStore object.

Metadata objects#

Page#

The Page object stores data about the tab where the actions were called from. It is a TabInfo object and you can find more details about it here.

Portal#

The Portal object stores data about the portal on which the action executes. This object is important, especially when dealing with files or users, as they can be portal based. It is a PortalSettings object and you can read details about it's structure here.

User#

The User object contains the data about the current user that initiated the action, but be aware that this can be altered with the Load User action. It is a User Info object and and you can read details about it's structure here.

Users#

The Users property is a context entity of Hashset<int> type which is used by some actions and it can also be changed with the Load User or Load Users from SQL actions. It is something specific to PlantAnApp and it contains the IDs of the users that have been loaded into context.

DataStore object#

The DataStore object contains all the data about the tokens which have been added into the context and are available for use. It is of type IDictionary<string, ContextField> and you can access its context using the specific dictionary syntax.