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How to Stop an IPA Schedule

There are a couple of different ways to disable an IPA schedule to stop it from running.  One way is to disable the process itself.  To do that, open User Defined Processes (Start > Process Server Administrator > Configuration > Process Definitions > User Defined Processes).  Select the process being disabled and clear the “Is Process Enabled” flag.  It is important to note that this method will cause the schedule to go into an error mode, and will have to be cleared and requeued when you are ready to start the schedule back up.

The other way is to set the Latest Time to Run on the schedule.  I like to set it to some date in the past (like yesterday) to make absolutely sure the schedule won’t run again.  When you click Save, the next time to run dates will clear.  To start the schedule back up again, simply clear out the Latest Time To Run and save the schedule.

View IPA Schedules in Async Administrator

To view/edit your own schedules, log into Rich Client and navigate to Start > My Actions.

To view/edit ALL schedules, log into Rich Client and navigate to Start > Applications > Async Framework Components > Requests.  From there, you will be presented with a list of all Async Action Requests.  The IPA process schedules are under module “pfi”.

 

 

 

Triggering an IPA Process Manually

To trigger a process manually, you first have to set up a trigger.  From Rich Client, navigate to Start > Process Server Administrator > Scheduling > By Process Definition.  Click Actions > Create to create a new trigger.  For Process Name, select the IPA process that you want to run.  Enter a descriptive Work Title (the trigger will fail if it doesn’t have a Work Title).  Click Save.  Then, click Actions > Start.  Check the Work Unit log to see that your process has run!  If you want to delete your trigger, you will first need to delete the work units associated with it.

Use IPA FTP Node to Transfer Multiple Files

When you are using IPA to transfer files, there may be some cases where you need to pick up multiple files, or where you need to get files for which you only know a partial name (such as a file that contains a date/timestamp).  To get multiple or masked files, you can supply an asterisk (*) in the filename as a wildcard.  Then, the destination file should actually be a directory name (of a directory that exists).  All files that are picked up in the FTP process will be placed in that directory, and you can use them from there.

 

IPA Dynamic Commands

One way to control the “clutter” on your more complex IPA processes is to utilize the concept of “Dynamic Commands”.  Many times your flows will follow a pattern of reading some sort of data, validating/manipulating the data, then taking action on that data.  You can move much of this work into Stored Procedures and set up a configuration table to tell your flow which command to execute next.  This method also allows for more granular error handling and logging.

Here is a sample configuration table and flow.  The flow will read this in and follow each step in order, and use a SQL Query node to get the command text.  The Action field shows what type of action will be completed once the stored procedure brings back the command.

Use IPA to update multi-step job

IPA is a useful tool for dynamically updating the parameters of batch jobs in Lawson. At some point you may find the need to update a multi-step job. In that case, you will need to supply values for some of the hidden fields on your batch job. You will need to provide a value for _STEPNBR (a 0-based array).  _f13 is used to name the print file, _f14 is used in the Reports section to set the distribution (“None” for default, “Dist Group” for a distribution group, “Printer” for a printer.  _f15 provides the value of the item in the _f14 selection. So, if you set a “Dist Group”, you would provide the distribution group name in _f15. Field _f18 sets the directory of the print file, if you want it to be different from the default. Here is an example of a multi-step update:

 

How to resolve the problem: LSF submitted processes aren’t triggering on IPA Server

Example: Submitted requisitions aren’t triggering on IPA server via reqapproval process and are not showing in Rich Client.

 

  1. Go to LSF application server, start LID and type: pfserv ping all

    Make sure Event Manager is running.
  2. When Event Manager is NOT running:
    Let’s restart it but make sure we can see the java process with –classpath in their command line close.

Now in LID on LSF server, run these stop commands IN THIS ORDER:

Verify the java.exe –classpath processes closed, else manually end them.

 

Now start them up IN THIS ORDER:

Now run a pfserv ping all to see if Event Manager is running.

 

Go to Rich Client and check Live Workunits to verify that hung processes are being picked up:

 

And you’re done!  Monitor and make sure users aren’t having any issues.

 

How to Resolve Workunits Sitting in Ready Status

Problem: Workunits for Infor Process Automation are sitting in Ready Status and not processing.

Solution:
1.  Via LmrkGrid (Grid Management), determine how many workunits may simultaneously process in your system. (see attached “DeterminingSimultaneous.docx”)

  1. Determine how many workunits are currently in a processing state.

NOTE:  Please refer to attachment “DeterminingSimultaneous.docx” for instructions on determining simultaneous processes.  In case you will need to engage support, you should screenshot this information to provide when you open the support incident.

 

– Command to count records in Ready Status:  dbcount <DATAAREA> -f Status=\”1\” PfiWorkunit

– Command to count records in Processing Status:  dbcount <DATAAREA> -f Status=\”2\” PfiWorkunit

– Command to count records in Completed Status:  dbcount <DATAAREA> -f Status=\”4\” PfiWorkunit

 

It is a good idea to monitor and take counts of these records periodically. Are the number of workunits in Ready status growing? Are the number of workunits in Completed status growing? Is the number of workunits in Processing status equal to the maximum number workunits that can simultaneously process?

NOTE: If the number of workunits in Ready Status is growing and the number of workunits in completed status is not, then either:

  1. You have workunits that processing for a very long time holding up the system; use the Grid Management UI to determine which workunits are processing so long and determine if those are stuck in a loop; or if they are just processing normally large jobs. Consider cancelling the long running workunits, and scheduling them to run in off business hours.
  2. If you are on Landmark 10.1.0.x, there was a bug in this version of Landmark that periodically caused Async to stop picking up new workunits. This issue was resolved by a re-write of Asnyc and LPA nodes in 10.1.1.x Landmark versions. If you are on Landmark 10.1.0.x you should restart the Async Node, and the IPA node.

NOTE: The workunits that were already queued to an LPA node will not automatically start back up;  the workunit polling frequency (default 30 minutes) will need to trigger before they are requeued to a new LPA node.

IPA Sample Flows and Scripts

Infor KB article 1667935 offers a list of sample flows and scripts used to carry out certain needs in Lawson.

Download Sample Flows Scripts

Preamble

During the course of providing support for Infor Process Automation, I periodically find the need to create a process flow or short script to satisfy some need that I have. This KB article is a place you can look for some example flows and scripts. The content here is built as examples of techniques and are not intended for executing within a Production environment without modification.

FP.pl – (perl script)

This perl script accepts a file as input, such as a workunit.log that is too large to open in a text editor, and breaks it into smaller pieces. Execute from a command window:

C:\>perl FP.pl -f C:\folder\filename.ext -n 100000

 

This would create new files C:\folder\filename1.ext, C:\folder\filename2.ext each with 100,000 lines.

 

LogReporter.pl – (perl script)

This perl script is used for determining where a process flow is spending all of it’s time processing. It is packaged in a zip file, when unzipping this the LogReporter.pl should be inside of a folder that contains a /lib folder which contains a required perl module. To run the perl script save off a workunit log that was captured at “Workunit Only” log level. Then from a command window, cd to the directory where LogReporter.pl exists and execute:

perl LogReporter.pl -f C:\folder\workunit.log

 

This will create two csv files, one being a report of where the flow spent all of it’s time.

 

IPABP-FileAccess-IntermittentWrite.lpd

This is a sample process flow which provides three examples that achieve the same result. The first technique stores all data in a message builder node, then writes to a file once. This technique is only possible if the process flow does not stop at a user action node or wait node, which would wipe current variable values. The second example makes a write to append the file once per record returned. I recommend avoiding this strategy as there is overhead to opening a file, writing, and closing the file repeatedly. The third example shows how to store data for X records, then periodically writing the data to a file. This is the recommended technique as it minimizes the memory footprint stored in memory, and eliminates the need to write to the file for every record.

 

IPABP-CSVFile-SQLCMD.lpd

This sample flow makes use of SQL Server’s Database utility to obtain a CSV file directly from the database. A technique like this can save significant resources and time to build a csv file from within a flow. The command we run is:

SQLCMD -S . -d DATABASENAME -U username -P password -s, -W -Q “SELECT PFIWORKUNIT, FLOWDEFINITION, FLOWVERSION, WORKTITLE, PFIFILTERKEY, FILTERVALUE FROM [DATABASENAME].[SCHEMA].[PFIWORKUNIT]” | findstr /V /C:”-” /B >

Microsoft sqlcmd utility documentation: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sql/tools/sqlcmd-utility?view=sql-server-2017

TIP: Adding -E, instead of -U -P, will cause the command to use a trusted connection and pass windows credentials to the database. Running this command from within a flow means the command is actually going to execute as the user that Landmark is running as. It will pass those credentials to the Database, if you add a Windows Authentication login for that user you won’t have to pass the user and password in plain text from a process flow.

 

TIP: The -h flag can be used to eliminate header row (-h -1) would be no headers. (-h 100) would print the headers every 100 rows of data.

 

IPABP-WorkunitGovernor

Periodically we see a flow that is deemed critical to the business, and there are also a few less important process flows that can take alot of time to run. In this scenario it is possible to trigger several less important flows that will occupy all available workunit threads. This causes important flows to wait for an available thread to process on. This is a sample of a technique that you could use to limit the number of less important flows that can run at the same time.

 

The flow is a simple Landmark transaction to count how many workunits with the same name are currently processing. If that number is higher than the value we set, the flow will wait for a few minutes then get another count. We are leveraging the wait node, which parks the workunit and makes its workunit thread available to other flows.

 

IPABP-JobSubmit and IPABP-JobWait

NOTE: Due to a bug in Landmark Runtime Environment, you must be above Landmark 10.1.1.10 for this flow to work

 

Lawson System Foundation deprecated the old cgi-lawson/jobrun.exe command in LSF10, and replaced all these cgi executables with lawson-ios/action servlets. I developed this example flow as a way to submit a job and have process automation wait for the job to finish before moving on. The benefit of this technique is it does not consume a workunit thread while the job is executing in LSF.

 

It works like this: You have a main flow (IPABP-JobSubmit) which uses a trigger node to launch IPABP-JobWait. When it triggers the JobWait flow it passes all the information that is required to execute the job, then JobSubmit immediately goes to a User Action node which drops it from processing and returns the workunit thread. JobWait submits the job then cycles through a WAIT node, periodically checking on the status of the job. When the job completes, JobWait will take an action on the Job Submit which wakes that flow up to continue processing.

 

IPABP-Multithread-S3Query

Before we found the performance improvements of using the Java Interpreter available in Landmark 10.1.1.48 there were times we needed to have some large running flows execute faster. This flow is an example where a S3 Query returned alot of records and we needed to perform another action for every single record that was returned. To improve the processing time we broke this up so that the S3 Query was executed simultaneously in multiple workunits, instead of a single workunit.

 

This sample collects a set of KEYS for the table we are querying inside LSF; then triggers a new workunit to handle that group of records.

 

IPABP-BackDatedProxyUserApproval & IPABP-ResetWorkunitsForNewProxies

In Infor Process Automation 10.1.1.x we introduced some new features. One of the new features is the concept of creating a Proxy User; this allows a Process Flow Approver to create a proxy that grants another user access to fill in for them while they are away. When this feature was developed, to avoid problems with pre-existing code we could not safely grant the proxy user access to pre-existing work items.

 

So if a user is assigned 2 work items on Wednesday, then sets up a proxy for another user to cover for them. Even if you back date the proxy access to Tuesday, the new proxy user will not see the items created Wednesday. So I came up with the following concept:

  1. If I can design my approval flow with this limitation in mind, I can have an action on every User Action node that simply leaves the current UserAction node then comes right back to the same UserAction
  2. I can design another flow to find all workunits that are waiting on a useraction, and have that flow execute this special action which would cause those flows to leave the current UA and return

Why? Because this means after I create a proxy I can run my Proxy Reset flow to have a flow leave and return thus creating new Work Items which would include the new proxy user.

 

The method I am describing works, but it make not be for everyone. In this instance I am stealing the Timeout action so that regular users can not see my “Reset Action”, but if you already use a timeout addition modification to this concept would likely be required.

 

IPABP-LargeHTMLContentInVariable

There have been several times where I have encountered a client looking to simply build a HTML content display exec to show a header record, and all detail lines. Like REQHEADER and REQDETAIL, however since the database is limited to 2048 characters for a string variable. If the flow has multiple levels of approval, after the flow stops at the first variable, the perfectly built HTML is now truncated down to 2048.

 

NOTE: If you trigger your flow from a File Channel, the Input Data variable is already populated and this approach won’t work for you. Essentially this flow builds the HTML, then makes a Landmark Transaction to create a PfiWorkunitInputData record to store the HTML, then the flow uses a short term wait node. The purpose of the wait node is so that when the workunit restarts it loads PfiWorkunitInputData into the variable where it can now be used anywhere else in the flow.

 

IPABP-LogLevelAdjuster (Windows Landmark)

This process flow is designed to update all Process Flow Definitions,  it sets the Workunit log level to “Workunit Only,  it sets the CancelCheckFrequency to “Intermittent @ 30 seconds”, it disables CaptureActivityStartandEnd times.   For efficiency sake this is the recommended settings for running a flow inside of a Production environment unless you are specifically troubleshooting an issue with the flow.

 

NOTE:   This flow contains 2 variables in the start node that must be updated before implementing it.   The “BaseLmrkDir” variable needs to be pointed to the absolute path of the Landmark directory where the “enter.cmd” command resides.  You must also use \\ instead of \ as we are storing the directory in a javascript string.   For example:   D:\\lmrkprod  if there are two directories be sure to use double backslashes for all directories  D:\\Landmark\\prod.

 

Also, you should modify the email address to your own email address.

 

UNIX – You should be able to modify this flow fairly easy to work for UNIX as well.   You simply need to modify the system command node so that it can run a landmark command.   cd /landmarkdirectory && enter.sh && listdataareas.  Everything else is landmark based.

5 needs your technical documentation should address

Here at Nogalis we perform managed service for several dozen enterprise customers. Most of our customers are either using Lawson V10 on premise or Infor CloudSuite products in the cloud. Our customers vary in their level of complexity but they almost all have several custom interfaces that support the operation of their businesses. Most of these interfaces are built with IPA (Infor Process Automation) or with ION which are both Infor supported products. Here are some examples just to name a few:

  • Positive pay interfaces to banks
  • Invoice import interface
  • Vendor creation interface
  • Automated user provisioning
  • Employee benefits exports and imports
  • COBRA interface
  • Batch job automation
  • Invoice or Purchase Order Approval interfaces
  • Journal entry imports

And many more

Many of these interfaces were designed and developed years ago and have been modified several times since. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the documentation that was once made for them if any. In an upcoming webinar and subsequent article, I plan to discuss how to develop accurate, useful, and easy to maintain documentation. But in this article, I want to focus on the reasons why we need these documents because without knowing why we do something, we’re not likely to do it right. The reasons below serve as guidelines for our documentation:

Reason 1 – Supporting the interfaces. This is the primary reason for creating good documentation. The goal of the any documentation should be that anyone can read it from start to finish and be able to support the existing process when it breaks. Therefore, one of the first things we do for our new managed service customers is to create detailed documentation of all their interfaces on our DOCR documentation portal and give them access to it. You can see some examples here. What’s nice about storing these documents on a web portal is that there is a central place for keeping them updated that everyone can contribute to. For support reasons, we make sure that we have a troubleshooting and a recovery section in each of our interface documents.

Reason 2 – Updates and enhancements. We’re routinely asked to update and enhance existing interfaces. While we can dig through the entire code of the interface to find out what every piece does, it is always helpful if some documentation exists that has an overview of the different components of the interface.

Reason 3 – Change Control. As we make changes to interfaces over the years, it is important to document these changes for change control purposes. Having a web-based documentation portal makes it easy to do this as it is the only version of the document that exists, and it is always updated with the latest changes.

Reason 4 – Application upgrades. As we upgrade our large enterprise applications, we always must study the impact of the upgrade on any custom interfaces that we have. The only way to do this quickly is to review the documents and specifically focus on any sections focusing on dependencies, and general data flow. Having proper documentation during an upgrade process can make the difference between a 1 month upgrade and a 6 month upgrade.

Reason 5 – Training and new hires. We pride ourselves in our one-to-one client to resource ratio in our managed service group. That means that for every new managed service customer, we add at least one new member to our team. This new team member goes through a rigorous training that includes reviewing all existing client documentation. This is an indispensable tool for our team as well as any client newhires.

If you need help creating your interface documentation, or to subscribe to our DOCR documentation portal, please contact us here.