The Difference Between Scribbles and Workflows



Workflow Diagram



Scribble Sample, illustrating the Hypermedia links across BOTbits (aka action representations of resources), in compliance with Resource Oriented Architecture’s constraint on HATEOAS state transition as execution flows.

This post evaluates and compares Scribbles and Workflow as technologies for enabling web tasking. The goal of web tasking is to put resources from systems of record, systems of instrumentation and system of people in the hands of web users in the systems of engagement in order that users can engage with these resources freely for their tasks to fulfill their personalized, situational tasks requirements without programming dependency [1].

“A workflow separates the various activities of a given organizational process into a set of well-defined tasks. The various tasks in a workflow are usually carried out by several users in accordance with the organizational rules relevant to the process represented by the workflow.” [2]

Scribble, on the other hand, is built for web tasking for web users’ personalized and situational tasks [1].

Purpose and Scope:

Workflow and business processes are designed for organizations in which many people work together. A clearly defined workflow shared by all participants within the organization is vitally important for the purpose of governance. This is a complete overkill to meet the goal of web tasking.

Scribble is built for web users to task freely with resources from across the web. The purpose is for personalized, situational web tasking. The notion of governance does not exist. While scribbles can be shared among web users, it is for the purpose of re-use, not for the purpose of governance.

Authorship of Workflow:

The defining question critical for web tasking is the question of whether web users can author their own personalized, situational tasks without any programming dependency.

Workflow typically has a workflow language that is too complex for typical web users to handle. Even RESTful service workflow requires a provision of an XML instance that complies to its workflow meta model, prohibiting web user authorship, defeating the purpose of web tasking.

Scribble, on the other hand, is designed for web user’s authorship in web tasking. Through widget, text or voice, web users express their web tasking in hypermedia sequences of resource actions. The scribble artifact is then generated for the user and processed by the Web Interaction Server.


In Workflow, Backend processes and different roles of the organization are the actors of the workflow.

In Scribble, either the web user himself, or his intelligent web agent are the only possible actors.


In Workflow, the interactions are highly structured. In Scribble, because of its hypermedia foundation, scribble is built to support unstructured interactions.

Architecture and Run Time

Workflow typically is run on a vendor-based workflow engine as the run time platform, that is typically not open for interoperability with other participants.

Workflows are static in nature. Any change of workflow requires redeployment therefore changes are costly.

Scribble is built on a Resource-Oriented Architecture that is open. Flow transition is on HATEOAS (Hypermedia As The Engine Of Application State) only.

Scribble is dynamic. Partial changes can be made by replacing new instances of BOTbits. There is no notion of redeployment. It provides great flexibility.



Contrasting Workflow & Scribble In the context of Web Tasking


[1] J. Ng, Web Tasking Position Paper, CASCON 2014.

[2] D. Georgakopoulos, M. Hornick, A. Sheth. An Overview of Workflow Management: from process modeling to workflow automation infrastructure.  Distrib. Parallel Databases 3, 2 pp. 119 – 153, 1995.


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