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Top Takeaways from “Process Automation – Performance Considerations and Best Practices” Infor Webinar

This 1 hour, interactive briefing from Infor provides an overview of the best practices for performance tuning your IPA process flows, grid tuning considerations, and tips to leverage the most from your system.

The full webinar can be accessed through a link on this page: (https://technology-blog.infor.com/2015/12/13/recording-now-available-for-ipa-performance-considerations-and-best-practices-webinar/)

Here are some notable takeaways from the video:

  1. IPA Settings Tuning
    Basic tips for improving performance:

    • Ensure you are on the latest release of Landmark Environment.
    • Upgrading your system to a newer release of Java will often result in performance improvements.
    • Core Pool Size: pfi.dispatcher.CorePoolSize setting within Grid determines how many simultaneous workunits can process at a time. Rule of thumb is to start by setting this value to the number of CPU Cores in your Landmark Server. (8 core CPU = 8 max workunits) In order to fully optimize, you can start simultaneous flows equal to your server’s cores and check Task Manager’s Performance tab. For example, if only 50% of your CPU is being used with 8 simultaneous flows in progress, you can probably safetly increase the maximum workunits to 12 or even 16 for improved performance.
    • Max Heap: grid.jvm.maxHeapMB setting within Grid sets the max amount of server RAM a particular Grid Node can use for processing. When setting this value, be aware of how much total RAM is available to use on the server. All the Max Heap sizes for all Grid Nodes, Operating System Memory, and Memory Footprint of other programs needs to be less than the total RAM of the server. The Max Heap should be set as high as possible with these considerations in mind.
    • LmrkDeferred Node: When installing Landmark, some grid deployments create this LmrkDeferred grid gode which combines the functionality of Async and IPA into one node. You should not be running Process Automation with this grid node. Infor recommends that the Async node and IPA node be broken out into their own grid nodes.
    • Configure the system so that there is only one IPA Grid node per Data Area that processes workunits.
  2. Process Tuning
    Basic tips for improving processes/flows:

    • Most important factor is the number of nodes. Try to minimize the number of nodes in your flow as flows take approximately 5-20ms time between nodes and 2-5ms time per variable assignment. An important tip when trying to reduce nodes is to remember that values returned from a query or processing node will automatically be assigned an internal variable name that we can refer to. There is no need for an additional assignment.
    • When using a query to cycle through records and write to a file, using a MsgBuilder versus a FileAccess or Assign node is more efficient as it is keeping the records in memory to write all at once at a later time. FileAccess in between a query is the most inefficient as it requires opening and appending onto a file once for every record encountered.
    • Turning on logging will decrease flow performance so it should only be turned on when troubleshooting flow failure or performance issues. When a flow is failing, turn on Workunit and Activity Logging and turn this off when done troubleshooting. For performance issues, run the flow with Workunit only logging turned on.
    • When creating a large csv file, consider using SysCommand node instead of writing to a file by looping through records.

For more details and the most recently updated KB articles, refer/subscribe to:
KB 1671693 – IPA Support Best Practices

Infor Process Automation (IPA) Best Practices and Performance Improvement Tips

Since Infor Process Designer is an open-ended visual design tool, different users can achieve the same end goal but in many different ways. While the flow might technically “work”, this level of design freedom usually leads to processes that are not as efficient as they could potentially be.

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you design your next flow:

  1. Use a MsgBuilder node instead of writing to file for each record

     

    By using a MsgBuilder node, we can append all found records to a String in memory. We can then call the string when we need to write the records. This is much faster than individually writing each line, each time through the FileAccess node.

  2. Merge Assign Nodes

    This is a common mistake in many processes. There is no reason two Assign nodes would have to line up one after another in a flow. You can simply use one Assign node for all your variables/javascript. More nodes in your flow results in slower speeds so you should always try to use as few nodes as possible.
  3. Remove Unnecessary Assign Nodes

    When a value is returned from a query or processing node, it is automatically assigned an internal variable name.

    In the screenshot above, we see the values pulled from my SQL query have already been automatically assigned a variable. Therefore, there would be no point in having an Assign node to set SQL ADDRESS to my custom variable <!ADDRESS>. It would be better to simply call <!SQLQuery1080_ADDRESS> when needed as the variable has already been created for me.

  4. Remote File Access
    When the Infor Lawson business applications and ProcessFlow are on the same server, file access is blazing fast since all the files are local. However, when IPA is on a separate server, the process slows down since the flow must now access the file across the network and not locally.

    To mitigate this issue, make sure file access is done as efficiently as possible. Perhaps reach out to those in charge of network IT to see about reducing network lag.

  5. Upload the Process with Logging Off
    Process logging can negatively affect performance. Unless you are troubleshooting a problem, processes should be uploaded with Log Level: No debug

IP Designer Email Node – Using HTML and Inserting Images

Using HTML or inserting images via the IP Designer Email node seems to be a common problem based on the number of forum posts on this topic.

Here are some of the solutions that have been proposed.

USING HTML

Based on the responses of senior IP Designer users, the gold standard for using HTML in your email is to write the HTML directly into a MsgBuilder node (http://www.nogalis.com/2017/09/12/ip-designer-series-message-builder-node/) so that we can call the MsgBuilder variable name in the email body of the Email node.

INSERTING IMAGES

  1. A simple way to insert images in emails sent by IP Designer Email node would be to compose HTML as shown above and bring in images from web servers.
  2. Another way would be to store the image in the Lawson emailattachments directory in order to attach it in the Email node.In Windows the directory to store the images is: lawsondirectory/bpm/emailattachments
    In Unix: lawsondirectory/LPS/emailattachments/


Designer Series – JSON Converter Node

The JSON Converter node can be used to build a JSON object from CSV or XML, or to convert a JSON object to XML or CSV.

Under the input tab on the Properties, the input could be output from some other node, a variable, or a text string.

The output from the converter node can be used to saved to a file, in a data iterator, or in other reader nodes in your flow.

IP Designer Series – JSON Builder Node

The JSON Builder node can be used to build a JSON object, which you can use later in your flow for reading or sending out to a server using a web call.

Under the input tab on the Properties, the input could be output from some other node, a variable, or a text string.

The output of a JSON builder can be used to send a JSON web call, or it can be read similarly to the JSON parser output.

IP Designer Series – JSON Parser Node

The JSON Parser node can be used to parse JSON data, either from a local file or from a response from a Web API.  The steps are very similar to getting XML data from a web API.

Under the input tab on the Properties, the input could be output from some other node, such as a file access node or Web Run result.

For the output, if you provide a sample file with a JSON response, that is an easy way to get the syntax for the variables coming across in the JSON response.  You can click “Set Variable” to see the syntax, and you can select “Export Variables” to get a file with the syntax for all variables in the sample file.

Use this output syntax to set variable values to use later in your flow.

IP Designer Series – User Action Node – Action Task

Before you can assign work to users in the User Action node, you will need to create the appropriate tasks and add users to those tasks.

*Before you perform this process, you will require Process Server Administrator access.

Log into Rich Client and navigate to Start > Applications > Process Server Administrator > User Configuration > Tasks.

Click Actions > Create, or click the “new” button. Give the task a name, description, and select the inbasket you want the users of that task to have (default “Standard Inbasket”).

To add users to your task, you must first make sure the users exist in the user configuration. Navigate to Start > Applications > Process Server Administrator > User Configuration > Users. Search for your users that need the new task. If they do not exist, click the “new” button or Actions > Create to add them (they must be existing Landmark users).

On the Tasks screen, at the bottom left, Click Actions > Create to add users to the task. Search for your user, give them a start date of when you want the task to be effective, and an end date if the task is temporary for this user. Click “Filter Is Enabled” if you plan to use filters on this task. Select a notify option.

In your IPA process, you can add the tasks on the User Action node. This will determine who is notified (and who should take action) when that node is processed.

IP Designer Series – User Action Node – Action Subject

One of the properties options for a User Action node is “Action Reason”. You can require that the approver enter a subject, reason code, and comment. Before you set up the User Action Node, you will want to create your Action Subject in Rich Client. It is important to note that the user creating Action Subjects must have a role with the GlobalUIConfigAccess_ST security class.

Once you have the proper security, log into Rich Client and switch to the data area for which you are creating the subject. Go to Start > Configure > Application. Select “DataArea”.

Click “Add Subject” and give your subject a name.

After you add your subject, you can add it as a Reason Subject on the actions for your User action Nodes.

IP Designer Error

When trying to open IPDesigner, we ran into this error:

 

Opening the log reveals a java.lang.StackOverflowError:

 

This error was fixed by going to (C:\IPDesigner\ADTALEMPRD\workspace\.metadata\.plugins\org.eclipse.ui.workbench)
And removing workbench.xml. We opted to rename it to workbench_old.xml and when we restarted IPDesigner, it generated a new workbench.xml and started working correctly.

IP Designer Series – User Action Node

The User Action Node is typically used for Approval Flows. It is uses with the IPA inbasket to allow users to take action on items as part of an automated process.

Select the task associated with the user action (this must be configured in IPA Rich Client prior to creating your user action node).

Configure actions associated with this task (such as “Approve” or “Reject”)

Decide when the action should proceed

Configure the timeout settings

Configure the notification settings

Configure the displays for various platforms

Decide if/how reminders will be handled