Leveraging the Script Engine in Workflow

Liferay’s Kaleo workflow engine provides a robust system for reviewing and approving content in an enterprise environment. Even if you don’t leverage scripts, it’s a powerful and robust workflow solution. Adding scripts takes it to the next level. These scripts aren’t run from the script console, but are embedded in XML workflow definitions and run during the execution of the workflow.

Injected Variables

Usually when you’re scripting in Groovy, you must define your variables.

KaleoInstanceToken kaleoInstanceToken=new KaleoInstanceToken();

In workflow scripts, there are several pre-defined variables injected into your script context, to be called without defining them first.

Variables that are Always Available

These variables are available from anywhere that you can run a workflow script:

kaleoInstanceToken (KaleoInstanceToken)
A workflow instance and corresponding instance token (the KaleoInstanceToken) are created each time a User clicks Submit for Publication. Use the injected token to retrieve its ID, by calling kaleoInstanceToken.getKaleoInstanceTokenId(). This is often passed as a method parameter in a script.
The userId returned is context dependent. Technically, the logic works like this: if the KaleoTaskInstanceToke.getcompletionUserId() is null, check KaloeTaskInstanceToken.getUserId(). If that’s null too, call KaleoInstanceToken.getUserId(). It’s the ID of the last User to intervene in the workflow at the time the script is run. In the created node, this would be the User that clicked Submit for Publication, whereas it’s the ID of the reviewer upon exit of the review node of the Single Approver definition.
workflowContext (Map<String, Serializable>)
The workflow context is full of useful information you can use in your scripts. Usually you’ll pass this as a parameter to a method that requires a WorkflowContext object, but all of the WorkflowContext’s attributes are available in the script as well. The workflow context in the script is context dependent. If a call to ExecutionContext.getWorkflowContext() comes back null, then the workflow context is obtained by KaleoInstanceModel.getWorkflowContext().

Variables Injected into Task Nodes

If a kaleoTaskInstanceToken has been created:

kaleoTaskInstanceToken (KaleoTaskInstanceToken)
The task’s token itself is available in the workflow script. Use it to get its ID, to use in other useful programmatic workflow activities, like programmatic assignment.
taskName (String)
The task’s own name is accessible (returns the same as KaleoTak.getName()).
workflowTaskAssignees (List<WorkflowTaskAssignee>)
If the script is inside a task node, get a List of its assignees.
kaleoTimerInstanceToken (KaleoTimerInstanceToken)
If a task timer exists, use the kaleoTimerInstanceToken to get its ID, by calling kaleoTimerInstanceToken.getKaleoTimerInstanceTokenId().

Scripting Examples

The final step in a workflow runs a script that makes content available for use. The snippet below accesses the Java class associated with the workflow to set content’s status to approved.

        import com.liferay.portal.kernel.workflow.WorkflowStatusManagerUtil;
        import com.liferay.portal.kernel.workflow.WorkflowConstants;

        WorkflowStatusManagerUtil.updateStatus(WorkflowConstants.getLabelStatus("approved"), workflowContext);

At virtually any point in a workflow, you can use Liferay’s script engine to access workflow APIs or other Liferay APIs. There are a lot of different ways you could use this. Here are a few practical examples:

  • Getting a list of users with a specific workflow-related role
  • Sending an email to the designated content approver with a list of people to contact if he is unable to review the content
  • Creating an alert to be displayed in the Alerts portlet for any user assigned to approve content

Of course, before you try any of this, you need to know the appropriate syntax for inserting a script into a workflow. In an XML workflow definition, a script can be used in any XML type that can contain an actions tag: those types are <state>, <task>, <fork> and <join>. Inside of one of those types, format your script like this:

            <![CDATA[*the contents of your script*]]>
        <script-language>*your scripting language of choice*</script-language>

Here’s an example of a workflow script created in Groovy. This one is used with a Condition statement in Kaleo. It accesses Liferay’s asset framework to determine the category of an asset. The script uses the category to determine the correct approval process automatically. If the category legal has been applied to the asset, the asset is sent to the Legal Review task upon submission. Otherwise, the asset is sent to the Default Review task.

        import com.liferay.portal.kernel.util.GetterUtil;
        import com.liferay.portal.kernel.workflow.WorkflowConstants;
        import com.liferay.portal.kernel.workflow.WorkflowHandler;
        import com.liferay.portal.kernel.workflow.WorkflowHandlerRegistryUtil;
        import com.liferay.asset.kernel.model.AssetCategory;
        import com.liferay.asset.kernel.model.AssetEntry;
        import com.liferay.asset.kernel.model.AssetRenderer;
        import com.liferay.asset.kernel.model.AssetRendererFactory;
        import com.liferay.asset.kernel.service.AssetEntryLocalServiceUtil;

        import java.util.List;

        String className = (String)workflowContext.get(

        WorkflowHandler workflowHandler =

        AssetRendererFactory assetRendererFactory =

        long classPK =

        AssetRenderer assetRenderer =

        AssetEntry assetEntry = assetRendererFactory.getAssetEntry(
            assetRendererFactory.getClassName(), assetRenderer.getClassPK());

        List<AssetCategory> assetCategories = assetEntry.getCategories();

        returnValue = "Default Review";

        for (AssetCategory assetCategory : assetCategories) {
            String categoryName = assetCategory.getName();

            if (categoryName.equals("legal")) {
                returnValue = "Legal Review";


Within a workflow, the next task or state is chosen based on the return value. See some examples of workflow scripts by accessing the embedded workflows and inspecting the XML.

Calling OSGi Services

How do you call OSGi services from a workflow script, accounting for the dynamic environment of the OSGi runtime, where services your script depends on can disappear without notice? Use a service tracker. That way you can make sure your code has access to the service it needs, and if not, do something appropriate in response. Here’s a little example code to show you how this might look in Groovy:

import com.liferay.journal.model.JournalArticle;
import com.liferay.journal.service.JournalArticleLocalService;
import com.liferay.portal.scripting.groovy.internal.GroovyExecutor;

import org.osgi.framework.Bundle;
import org.osgi.framework.FrameworkUtil;
import org.osgi.util.tracker.ServiceTracker;

ServiceTracker<JournalArticleLocalService, JournalArticleLocalService> st;

try {
    Bundle bundle = FrameworkUtil.getBundle(GroovyExecutor.class);

    st = new ServiceTracker(bundle.getBundleContext(), JournalArticleLocalService.class, null);

    JournalArticleLocalService jaService = st.waitForService(500);

    if (jaService == null) {
        _log.warn("The required service 'JournalArticleLocalService' is not available.");
    else {
        java.util.List<JournalArticle>articles = jaService.getArticles();
        if (articles != null) {
            _log.info("Article count: " + articles.size());
        } else {
            _log.info("no articles");
catch(Exception e) {
    //Handle error appropriately
finally {
    if (st != null) {

If you read the article on service trackers, the only odd looking piece of the above code is the getBundle call: why is GroovyExecutor.class passed as a parameter? The parameter passed to the FrameworkUtil.getBundle call must be a class from the OSGi bundle executing the workflow script. This is different from the context of a plugin project, where you’d want to get the bundle hosting the class where you’re making the call (using this.getClass(), for example). Note that for another scripting engine, you must pass in a concrete class from the particular bundle executing your script.

The combination of Liferay’s script and workflow engines is incredibly powerful. Since, however, it enables users to execute code, it can be dangerous. When configuring your permissions, be aware of the potential consequences of poorly or maliciously written scripts inside a workflow definition. For more information on creating workflow definitions, see the workflow documentation.

Running Scripts From the Script Console

Script Examples

« Running Scripts From the Script ConsoleScript Examples »
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