[EXTENSION] simpleWorkflow




Hi all,

have you ever had to handle a ‘status’ attribute in one of your model ?

And how many values this ‘status’ could have :2, 5, 42 ?

The Yii blog Demo application uses 3 statuses for its Post model : [/font][font="Arial"]draft[/font][font="Arial"], [/font][font="Arial"]ready[/font][font="Arial"], [/font][font="Arial"]archived[/font][font="Arial"]… [/font][color="#008000"][font="Arial"]Easy [/font][/color][font="Arial"]! … and moreover, any status can be reached from any other status (a [/font][font="Arial"]draft [/font][font="Arial"]can become [/font][font="Arial"]archived[/font][font="Arial"], and [/font][font="Arial"]archived [/font][font="Arial"]can become [/font][font="Arial"]ready[/font][font="Arial"], etc…) … [/font][color="#008000"][font="Arial"]event easier[/font][/color][font="Arial"] !

But what if you have to handle a more complex workflow, with plenty of possible values for the ‘status’, and forbidden transitions between some statuses ? …hummm … [/font][color="#FF0000"][font=“Arial”]not so easy[/font][/color][font=“Arial”] ![/font]

[font=“Arial”][size=“2”]The [/size][size=“2”]simpleWorkflow [/size][size=“2”]Extension can help … well at least that’s why it was written for.[/size][/font]

[font="Arial"][size="2"]It is simple to use :[/size][/font]

[font="Arial"] [/font]

  • [font="Arial"][size="2"]define your workflow[/size][/font]
  • [font="Arial"][size="2"]associate your workflow with models[/size][/font]
  • [font="Arial"][size="2"]add the simpleWorkflow behavior to models[/size][/font]
  • [font=“Arial”][size=“2”]…and that’s it ![/size][/font]

To know more about the simpleWorkflow Extension, you can check the documentation, API reference, and play with some demo pages.

The extension can be dowloaded from the Yii Extension section. A modified version of the Yii blog Demo is also available to demonstrate the extension usage.

Please note the current release is RC1.

Hopefully it will be useful to someone ;)

Well done, will keep this extension in mind. And really excellent docs!

thanks … I’m sure there are still some mistakes, or things I forgot to mention (this is just RC1) … I will improve it for the next release (so feedback is very welcome )

Great work. This would have saved me a lot of trouble some months ago.

This is excellent. Being looking for workflow framework for a while.

Thanks … but please note that this is just a simple Yii extension, and not a "framework"

If you are interested in real framework, I suggest you take a look at the References chapter in the documentation. For instance the ezComponent Workflow seems to me closer to a workflow based framework than my simpleWorkflow extension (which is simple)


I should have put these comments in here instead of the in the review.

Great extension and excellent documentation. Very timely for a project that I am working on that requires speakers to submit an abstract which then goes back and forth between editors and finally to a publisher.

One thing that was unexpected was the value placed in the field ‘status’ I expected it would be draft or edited or whatever but mine was (as if it was your post example), ‘swPost/draft’ and ‘swPost/edited’ is this the intended result?

Also a small bug in SWNode.php on line 115. PHP5.3 bails flagging keyword ‘split’ as deprecated. Change ‘split’ to ‘explode’ and everything is fine.


Hi doodle,

…and thanks for your feedback.Yes, what you’ve noticed is an expected behavior.

The fact is that the extension allows you to use more than one workflow for the same model, because in some cases it is more convinient to have 2 (or more) simple workflows than just a big one, full of transitions and hard to understand (or you can also share workflows among different models, which leads to the same consequences).Then it is required not only to know in which status a model is , but also in which workflow.

Another reason is that status names, only have to be unique inside a workflow, and not among all available workflows. For instance you may have defined an ‘edited’ status both for your ‘swPost’ and ‘swComment’ workflow. Again, this explains the ‘status’ column format.

I’m aware that documentation misses some explanations on specific points like this one, and I’ll improve it step by step (begining by adding a chapter to explain ‘status’ column format ;) )

I will also replace split by explode … but that"s for the next release.

thanks again for your comment


OK cool

I see the output from

<?php print_r(SWHelper::nextStatuslistData($model)); ?>

gives me

Array ( [swEventAbstract/draft] => draft* [swEventAbstract/correction] => correction ) 

is there a simple helper to turn ‘swEventAbstract/draft’ to output ‘draft’ I guess I could just explode the input string but do you have a method for that?

If not it might be a good one to add to the helper.

Take care, ;)


Currently there is no such helper, and as you may have guessed, SWHelper::nextStatusListData was written to help create an options list for a select box. In this context, if you choose to turn swEventAbstract/draft into ‘draft’ then you loose the workflow id part. This could cause a problem if for instance you are using more than one workflow.

Could you please tell me why you would need to remove the workflow part from the array heys ? I can’t think of a possible scenario, but my imagination has limits ;)


Sure, lets say my speaker submits a proposal for a lecture. The initial submission is a draft. Then an editor looks at it and say’s great this is good enough to use and flags it as acceptable. The next step would be the publisher who has a final say.

The original author (speaker) could log in to the account and see the current status of the proposal, is it accepted, rejected, requires editing etc.

I think the logic for keeping unique states is very valuable but on the output end we need something more like common language.

So if the speaker sees ‘accepted’ it will make much more sense than ‘swEventAbstract/accepted’.

Make sense, just a simple tool for views.

Take care,

doodle ;)


Since the nextStatusListData helper function returns a list of options using the labels, why not offer a helper to display the status using the label?

If your imagination is depleted, here’s a picture to jog it:



When you define your workflow, you must set an id for each status (like you did) but you can also set a Label. The label is nothing but a user friendly name for the status. It doesn’t have to be unique or anything, and can handle internationalization.

When you use the SWHelper::nextStatusListData method, what it does is populate an array with key/value pairs, where keys are the status Id and value the status label. If not label is defined, then the Id is used (that what happened in your case).

Here is an example :


	return array(

		'initial' => 'draft',

		'node' => array(

			array('id'=>'draft' ,

	  			'label' => Yii::t('draft')	// I8N status label



	  			'label' => 'Ready for publication' 	// 'regular' string label



			array('id'=>'published', 'transition'=>'ready,archived'),

			array('id'=>'archived', 	'transition'=>'ready'),




As you can see, status draft has a ‘label’ key set to ‘Yii::t(‘draft’)’, so it uses Yii internationalization feature to display the status name to the user. The ready status has a simple string has label (‘Ready For Publication’), and eventually all other statuses don’t have any label key, so they will automatically be displayed as <workflowId>/<statusId>.

I hope this will help solve your problem.


Hi Jacmoe,

if you want to display a status label you can write something like :

echo $model->swGetStatus()->getLabel();

The swGetStatus() method returns a SWNode object. You can check the API reference here


Thanks a lot, it works! :lol:

Here’s how to use it in a zii.widgets.CDetailView:

<?php $this->widget('zii.widgets.CDetailView', array(



















                	'label' => 'Status',

                	'type' => 'raw',

                	'value' => $model->swGetStatus()->getLabel()




)); ?>

I am a Yii newbie, so tell me if there’s an easier way.

But ‘Status’ is now rendered by it’s label ‘New’. Perfect.

Thanks for a excellent extension. :)

Good to hear ! … and what you wrote is just fine…


This is excellent, thank you so much Raoul.

Great extension and nicely documented.


First I have to say this extension could really save me a lot of work so thanks for this ;)

Second one thing which I find strange. If I have a Workflow like in the Blog Demo with a constraint like:


	'constraint' => '!empty($this->tags)',


I would think that I could select those status if this state is currently is in correction even if the tags are not filled. And will get an error that the tags are not filled in the model validation.

Currently if some Author enters a text and fill only the title and the content because they are required and saves this as ‘draft’. Than the post status of this post will be set to ‘correction’ if editing is finished so the next state would be ‘ready’. But when you open the post entry for edit you will only see draft and correction as possible states because the Tags are not filled. Only when you enter some tags save and open the post again you will see the ready option available to select.

I would recommend that you will see all states which are possible from the current state in the dropdown. But would then get an error on model validate that the constraint isn’t fulfilled if he selects the state ready.

Otherwise he also wouldn’t know what fields he must fill to even see that ready state.

Hi Horizons,

if I understand well, you’d like that constraint evaluation occurs at the time the status changes (during model validation), and not when retrieving possible next status list. If that is so, then I must say that you are right ! One solution would be to add an argument so to the SWHelper::nextStatusListData method.

Something like :

SWHelper::nextStatusListData($model, $includeCurrentStatus=true, $evaluateConstraint=true);

What do you think ?

I could include it in the next release (that is, when I’m back from holidays ;) )


Something like this or and display_all setting for the helper to display all status possibilities from the current state without the constraint evaluation.

The only Problem would be that the error would just display "not a valid next status" for the status dropdown.

And wouldn’t make a hint that the tags failed (blog demo).

I guess the best thing would be that you would change the code that the validators themself could be added.

like an array


    'constraints' => array(

            array('tags', 'required'),




And the validation would be done as if it was done on the model itself and would display the error on the correct attribute (e.g here tags). But this validation for those attributes would only be checked on certain states.

Hmm would be similar to the ‘on’=>array(‘ready’) setting on the rules for the scenario’s.

Maybe this could be combined like that the SWActiveRecordBehavior searches for the rules with the same transition names in the ON setting (e.g. swPost/ready) an validates them when this state is set.

Or just set the model on that scenario ‘ready’ in the validation process and back to ‘correction’ if validation failed (don’t know if that is a good idea).