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Editing in Process Modeler — Utility shape

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A utility shape is an activity that can update a work item without human input. It may perform computations, searches, retrieve data from another system, make a decision affecting the course of the flow, and so on.

indicates that one or more tickets are defined on the Utility. Assigned ticket names appear beside this icon on the flow.

Some utility shapes appear in the flow immediately before an assignment shape, to complete preprocessing. Others may appear immediately after an assignment shape, for post-processing of user decisions and input.

Note Don't confuse Utility activities with functions — Java code in instances of the Rule-Utility-Function rule type. A Utility activity is defined in a class derived from the Work- or Data- base class and has an Activity Type of Utility.

Add a Utility to the process flow

On the flow Diagram tab, you can add a shape in one of three ways. Validation of the added shapes occurs when you save the flow.

Use the canvas context menu:

  1. Right-click a blank area of the canvas near the location where you would like the Utility shape to appear.
  2. Hover over Add on the submenu to display a list of shapes you can add to the flow.
  3. Click the Utility shape. After the shape has been added to the canvas, click and drag to reposition.

Use the toolbar Flow Shape palette:

  1. Click the toolbar Flow Shape palette to display a drop-down shapes menu that will remain open until you close it, facilitating the process of rapidly adding multiple shapes. Click the window title bar and drag the submenu to another area of the screen, as needed.
  2. Click and drag the Utility shape to the canvas.
  3. Close the Flow Shape palette at any time.

Use the Flow Shape palette drop-down menu:

  1. Click the down arrow on the Flow Shape palette the toolbar to display a drop-down shapes menu.
  2. Click and drag the Utility shape from the drop-down menu to the desired position on the canvas.

Editing Utility properties

1. On the flow Diagram tab, open the properties panel using one of the following:

2. When the Utility panel appears, enter a name, no longer than 128 characters, to the right of the shape title (Utility: [Utility]). Choose a name meaningful to application users who see this on the work item history display, the breadcrumbs control (for entry points), and the Where-Am-I? diagram. For example: CustomerOpen-To-Buy. The system automatically enters the name in the Specification section. The shape name is only descriptive; it does not affect runtime execution.

NoteThis name also appears inside the Utility shape on the diagram. To change the name after you have exited from the properties panel, click the name, and type over the highlighted text.

3. Complete the fields as described in the tables below.

4. Click OK to save edits and close the panel.

5. Connect at least one incoming connector to the Utility shape.

6. Connect at least one outgoing connector from the Utility shape to another shape.

Deleting a Utility shape from the flow

A utility may be deleted from the process flow. Right-click the utility, and select Delete from the drop-down menu.

You can also select the utility and do one of the following:

NoteWhen a shape is deleted, the connectors to and from the shape are not deleted.

Cut, copy, and paste Utility shapes

Cut or copy shapes from a flow and paste them within the same flow or in other flows within your user session.

Completing the property panel sections

Complete the sections comprising the property panel as described below.





Select a Utility activity to be executed when a flow execution reaches this shape. See Atlas — Standard Activities for Flows for descriptions of a few standard Utility activities.

You can ( although not recommended) enter the name of an activity that is not a Utility type. Doing so displays a warning message The selected Rule is not a Utility activity in the properties panel. Use the appropriate shapes for Assign,Connect, Notify, and Route types. For example, use an Assignment shape for Assign types.


If the utility selected requires parameters, supply a literal value for each parameter. PRPC validates these parameter values when you exit (unless the flow in is Draft mode).

NoteYou can use the notation param.name in a parameter field to refer to a flow parameter. In this case, you are instructing the system to set a value of a parameter to this call of the activity equal to the value of a parameter to the flow. (Inside the activity, the keyword param refers — as always — to activity parameters, not flow parameters.

Audit note

SmartPromptOptional. Select or enter the name of a Rule-Message rule to control the text of an instances added to the work item history (the "audit trail") when a flow execution completes this shape. PRPC includes a few dozen standard messages in the Work- class. (Through field value rules, the corresponding text on work item history displays can be localized. See About the Localization wizard.)

NoteOptionally, to reduce the volume of history detail instances, your application can prevent system-generated messages from being added to work item history. See Controlling the volume of generated work item history instances and the PDN article How to control history instances written to the audit trail.

Entry point

Select to indicate that this Utility shape is an entry point, which a user can return to using the breadcrumbs control or the standard flow action Previous. The default is cleared. 5.2

Because a utility shape presents no user form, if a user clicks a breadcrumbs control to return to this entry point, flow processing resumes and pauses at the next assignment or other shape that requires user input.

Only going Back

This check box appears only when you select the Entry Point? check box. Select to restrict users at runtime from jumping ahead to this step without having completed the preceding steps. After having completed this step, users may jump back to it from steps that follow it.

TipFor maximum user flexibility, clear this check box if your flow accepts inputs in any order.

Post action on click away

This check box appears only when you select the Entry Point check box. Select to run flow action post-processing when you click away from this entry point.

TipIf the activity uses the TaskStatus-Set method to one of a few possible activity outcomes, the outgoing connectors can depend on this Status value. For example, a utility activity might return the values "HIRE", "REJECT", and "WAIT" through a TaskStatus-Set method. Using three connectors from the utility, one for each status value, simplifies the flow diagram by eliminating a fork or decision shape.





Enter a name to associate a specification with this shape. If you change the default shape name [Utility], the system enters the name in this field. You can either:

  • Choose an existing specification by selecting Choose another specification from the Specification Actions menu.
  • Create a new specification by entering a name (or keeping the name entered by the system).

Enter a description in the text area beneath the specification name. When you click OK on the Properties panel, the system creates or updates the specification. See Working with specifications in Process Modeler and Case Designer.


Complete the Status and Tickets sections as described below.




Work status

Enter a work status in this field to set the status for the work item. This allows you to easily change the status at multiple points in the life cycle of a work item without adding a Utility shape to the flow for each status change. Similar to setting work item status using a Utility shape, setting the status invokes the UpdateStatus activity. Any defined tickets dependent on the status are raised, as appropriate. The selected status updates .pyStatusWork when the flow execution reaches this assignment shape.

A status indicator appears on connectors to shapes that change a work item status. For example, if the shape status is set to Pending-External, the connector to that shape displays a small red flag. All transitions connecting to the shape will display the status indicator. Following are the status indicators for the four status prefixes.






Add a Ticket Name field to indicate the ticket(s) available at runtime. Use the Ticket to mark the starting point for exceptions that may arise at any point in the flow, such as a cancellation. The ticket is a label for a point in a flow, much like a programming "GOTO" destination.

An activity executing anywhere in your entire PRPC application can set or raise this ticket by executing the Obj-Set-Tickets method with this ticket name as a parameter. See Ticket help for other ways to raise a ticket.

The scope of a raised ticket includes all flows on the current work item that contain this ticket. If found, processing stops on that flow promptly, and resumes at the ticket point.

The system adds to the decision shape to indicate one or more tickets are associated with this decision. The assigned ticket name appears on the flow.



Ticket Name

add row Select one or more tickets that are to be available at runtime from this decision. Add a row for each ticket. Use SmartPrompt to display all tickets available to flows in this work type.

TipCreating ticket rules is recommended but not required. You can enter here a name that does not correspond to a ticket rule .

NoteIf a shape has more than one ticket associated with it, then processing continues with that task only after all tickets are set.


Processing is connected to a ticket to respond to an exception, error flow or event. For example, if a mortgage application is withdrawn after some, but not all, of the application processing is completed, a mortgage processing flow can:

  • Include a ticket named Withdrawn on a utility shape that computes the fees due for work done so far, and any refund amount
  • Follow the utility shape with another that produces correspondence, to alert all parties working on the mortgage that it was withdrawn
  • Connect to external systems to back out (rollback) changes or void accounting entries as appropriate
Display NameThe Ticket Name appears by default. Enter a name to display other than the ticket name.
Related topicsAbout Activity rules
How to create activities for use in flows

TaskStatus-Set method
Standard rulesStandard activities for flows

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