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Open source workflow vs BPM Suites with API’s

Blog: Flokzu

You are developing a new software project, and you realize that for a part of it, you need a state machine. Or in other words, a workflow. You immediately think about looking for an open-source workflow engine that you can incorporate into your development. You search and find dozens. They all claim to be easy to use and integrate. None of them are.

open source code or API

This situation is very common. Open-source tools for managing workflows are usually very flexible and powerful, and equally complex to integrate, customize, operate, and above all maintain in the future.

Some open source workflow tool options are actually very powerful, robust, and flexible. For example Camunda, jBPM and Activiti, support the BPMN standard for graphical process notation. Other tools, such as Enhydra Shark, use other notations for graphical process modeling, and offer a specific execution engine for them.

At the other extreme, there are the BPM tools called low-code or no-code, such as Flokzu, which are based on not requiring programming or technical knowledge to be used. In these cases, the component that allows them to be integrated into other systems is their public interfaces, or simply API’s.

Benefits of Open Source Workflow

Open source BPM suites are especially advantageous in these scenarios:

Restrictions when using an open source workflow

Along with flexibility come some relevant restrictions:

BPMN 2.0.2 standard example: Shipment Process of a hardware retailer
BPMN 2.0.2 standard example: Shipment Process of a hardware retailer
BPMN 2.0.2 standard collaboration example: Ordering and delivering pizza

Alternative: Workflow Suites with API’s

As an alternative to using an open source workflow, you can use a commercial product (a BPM Suite or Workflow Suite). It will provide all the process related capabilities and also an API’s to integrate with other systems or applications.

As an example, Flokzu provides a public API, which facilitates the execution of process actions from any other application.

Perhaps the most common use case is having a website for the onboarding of new clients, and in its end, starting a new workflow instance to enroll that client. This workflow is started through the New Process Instance method of the Flokuz API. The values of the new client (name, address, etc) are passed as parameters and stored in process variables.

But in addition, communication can be bi-directional. In a certain stage of the process, the workflow engine can invoke through an API a web service in another system, which performs another operation. Continuing with the example, the customer could be automatically registered in other systems. The process modeled in Flokzu would look like this:

Instead of using an open source workflow, this example integrates a commercial BPM Suite. New Client process example with API integration
Process integration through API – New client example

Advantages of the Product + API approach

The advantages of the approach of using a non-open source workflow product, and then integrating it into your development via API’s, are the exact opposite of the previous restrictions:


Using an open source workflow as part of a larger development has some advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages include flexibility, customizability, and full control over what is running. Among the disadvantages, the main one is the high complexity that the workflow engines have. Their integration into another development will consume many resources (time and costs). And it will be very difficult to maintain afterward.

In this scenario, an alternative that deserves serious consideration is the use of a commercial, non-open-source workflow product. And integrate it with your software project through API’s.

Try Flokzu cloud BPM now.

Schedule here a 30 minutes session and see how you can easily integrate Flokzu with your custom software development.

The post Open source workflow vs BPM Suites with API’s appeared first on Flokzu | Cloud BPM & Cloud Workflow.

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