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Understanding Activity Guides

This section provides an overview of:

Activity guides are a PeopleTools feature that allow you to define guided procedures for a user or group of users to complete. Users are presented with a list of actions, or tasks, that need to be completed to finish the procedure. Activity guides can be useful in a number of procedural scenarios. For example:

  • The on-boarding of a new employee.

  • Benefits enrollment.

  • A life change event, such as a marriage or the birth of a child.

  • Period end closing.

  • System or feature configuration.

An activity guide lists the tasks (referred to as action items) that need to be completed by a user or group of users. These tasks are linked to specific local or remote transactions or external URLs. The tasks can be assigned to a specific user by user ID or to a group of users by PeopleTools role. Activity guides provide a hierarchical organization of dependent and sequential tasks.

Typically, activity guides are generated from reusable definitions known as activity guide templates. These activity guide templates and action items are defined and managed through pages available under the select PeopleTools, then select Portal menu. At run time, an activity guide instance can be instantiated from a template by providing context data. The state of the entire procedure as well as that of individual tasks is maintained between sessions, allowing a user to return later to complete the activity.

Important! PeopleTools activity guides are very different from workflow activity guides that are created from workflow activities within PeopleSoft Application Designer. See Understanding Workflow Activity Guides for more information on workflow activity guides.

Typically, activity guides are defined by the properties and characteristics of activity guide templates. An activity guide template provides a reusable definition of the important aspects of an activity guide: its properties, participants, contextual data, list of action items and to whom they are assigned, and so on. Then, at run time, an activity guide instance can be created from the definitions stored in the template. The instance will be generated with the contextual data that uniquely differentiates one instance from another. For example, for a benefits enrollment activity guide, the contextual data would likely include the employee ID, the country and locale (state, province, and so on) where the employee works, and any other key data required to initiate the benefits process.

While activity guide instances are typically created dynamically through user interaction with the system, they can also be created manually from a template.

Action items are the transaction-based tasks that are assigned for completion within an activity guide. Within an activity guide, action items are organized into an ordered list. Action items can be organized hierarchically with a parent (summary) action item composed of child (detail) action items. Furthermore, an action item can be set to be dependent on the status of another action item.

Action items can be created and maintained within activity guide templates or within activity guide instances. However, typically you will define action items and their details at the template level only. Once an activity guide instance is created, updates to the action items themselves occur programmatically or through actions of the user.

An activity guide pagelet is the interface that presents the activity guide and its action items to a user. The pagelet lists tasks in sequence order and can optionally include a status bar indicating completion progress.

To develop and deploy an activity guide, follow this high-level procedure:

  1. Determine the tasks to be completed by the users and the order of the tasks.

  2. Determine whether task groupings exist—that is, summary tasks serve as parents to detailed tasks.

  3. Determine which PeopleSoft component (transaction) corresponds to each task. Alternatively, a task can be associated with a PeopleSoft query, a non-PeopleSoft URL or a process.

  4. Determine which user or role is to be assigned to each task.

  5. Determine whether each task requires any pre-processing or post-processing logic.

    For example, post-processing logic might change the status or assignment of subsequent action items depending the action taken by the user.

  6. Determine whether the activity guide instance is to be created dynamically from a template or manually from a template.

  7. Create the activity guide template.

    See Developing and Managing Activity Guide Templates.

  8. Create a definition for each action item to the template.

    See Creating and Maintaining Action Items.

  9. Generate an activity guide instance from the template.

    See Creating New Activity Guide Instances.

  10. Use Pagelet Wizard to generate the activity guide pagelet.

    See Generating an Activity Guide Pagelet.

  11. Create a WorkCenter page and assign the Activity Guide Layout (PTAILAYOUT) page layout template to the WorkCenter page.

    See Creating a WorkCenter Page for the Activity Guide.

  12. Add the activity guide pagelet to the WorkCenter page.

Action items are linked to transactions or tasks indirectly through the PeopleSoft Related Content Framework. You must create a related content service definition for each action item first, before you can complete the action item definition.

Please note the following limitations on developing and using activity guides:

  • Do not use think-time functions such as MessageBox, WinMessage, or others in the methods that define custom navigation frame buttons. See Developing Navigation Buttons.

  • Do not configure a remote activity guide pagelet for use in a WorkCenter defined on the local node. Instead, define both the WorkCenter and activity guide pagelet on the remote node. Then, using unified navigation or another mechanism, access the content reference for the remote WorkCenter from the local node.

  • Activity guide pagelets cannot be consumed as WSRP content.

  • If the user accesses and updates a transaction directly (for example, through standard menu navigation) rather than through the action item link in the activity guide pagelet, then any status change effected there will not be reflected in the activity guide pagelet.

  • Activity guides support a two-level hierarchy only—that is, only one level of detail is supported beneath a summary action item.

  • If an action item is linked to an external URL (that is, a non-PeopelSoft URL), then you must provide a custom button to allow the user to mark the action item as complete.

  • Do not link an action item to a mutli-step transaction such as a transaction that represents a wizard (for example, Pagelet Wizard).