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Windows Workflow Foundation Glossary

Visual Studio 2008

The following terms are used in the Windows Workflow Foundation documentation.


Term Definition


The elemental unit of a workflow. An activity is added to a workflow programmatically in a manner similar to adding XML DOM child nodes to a root node. When all the activities in a given flow path are finished running, the workflow instance is completed.


The mechanism by which an activity can passively wait to be resumed.


A well-known modeling paradigm that represents program components as symbols linked together with directional arrows. In .NET Framework 4.0, workflows can be modeled as flowcharts using the Flowchart activity.

long-running process

A unit of program execution that does not return immediately, and may span system restarts.


The act of saving a process or service to a permanent medium, so that it can be unloaded from memory (and the host restarted if necessary). The persisted process or service is reloaded later in response to incoming messages that require interaction with it.

state machine

A well-known modeling paradigm that represents program components as individual states linked together with event-driven state transitions. Workflows can be modeled as state machines using the StateMachine activity.


A set of activities that are stored as a model that describes a real-world process. Workflows provide a way to describe the order of execution and dependent relationships between pieces of short- or long-running work. This work passes through the model from start to finish and activities might be executed by people or by system functions.