External Activities

You can add activities that run an application outside TotalFlow Production Manager. The external application can do special job-processing tasks. It must run on the same computer where TotalFlow Production Manager is installed.

Because the processing is external to the processing that the activities provided by TotalFlow Production Manager do, this type of processing is called an external activity.

TotalFlow Production Manager includes these external activities:

Run External Application
Invokes an external application using a command-line interface. You can configure the activity so that the external application reads the job from the unique spool directory created for the job, installation_drive:\aiw\aiw1\spool\default\JobID, processes it, and writes the output to the spool directory.
Run Hot Folder Application
Puts the job in a hot folder that another application monitors. That application picks up the print job, processes it, and puts it into an output folder. TotalFlow Production Manager monitors that output folder and retrieves the job when it is ready.

Choosing which activity to use depends primarily on how the external application can accept jobs. If the external application has a command-line interface, the workflow can include Run External Application. If the external application monitors hot folders for input, the workflow can include Run Hot Folder Application. If the external application has both interfaces, you can decide which activity to use.

Consider these points when deciding which activity to use:

Run External Application Run Hot Folder Application
Requires you to write a command and specify all of the necessary options. If you are not familiar with writing commands or do not have the syntax of the command to run the external application, this activity might be more difficult to configure. Requires you to configure the sending and retrieval folders correctly. The sending folder and retrieval folder can be the same one, if the file name of the file to send does not match the retrieval pattern. The retrieval pattern is a pattern-matching string used to identify a returned job.

For example, if the external application converts files from PCL to PDF, the retrieval pattern could look for a file with the extension .PDF. The activity can copy printfile.pcl into the hot folder and not mistake it for the converted file, because it is looking for printfile.PDF.

However, if you use the hot folder to send a PDF file to an application that returns another PDF file, the sending and retrieving folders must be different locations.

Lets you specify the code page and language to be sent to the external application. Does not let you specify the code page and language to be sent to the external application.
Lets you specify the return codes that the external application can provide without sending the job into an error state. Does not provide the option to specify valid return codes.

If the external application returns the expected file, the step picks up the file and moves the process to the next step without checking for errors. As a result, the external application should be configured so it does not copy a file with errors to the output directory. If the hot folder is set to time out, the job eventually goes into an error state and the issue can be resolved; if the hot folder is configured to wait indefinitely, the job continues to wait until an operator intervenes.