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Basic Workflows

Workflows are the use of custom access permissions to add structured stages to the flow of content creation or data generation. Workflows enable you to do things like pass off work in progress between multiple roles, build decision trees, and beyond!

Author: Eron Powell

Directus Version: 9.18.1

Explanation

Remember, your basic CRUDS permissions define what a role can and can't do to all items in a collection. Custom access permissions take things a step further and let you define what a role can and can't do to each item in a collection, based on its field values.

Workflows are when you use these permissions techniques to create structured stages to content or data creation. In simplest terms, it is when you have two or more roles, and you give them different permissions at each stage in the content creation process.

There are an infinite number of possible workflows you could configure. But for this recipe, we will configure a simple workflow where writers and editors work together to create, co-edit and publish articles.

A Workflow

For this recipe, our workflow will have three stages, draft, under review, and published, which will be defined in a status field.

statusAuthorEditor
Article is not yet createdAuthor can create new items in articles, but only with a status of draft.Editor cannot create new items in articles.
DraftAuthor creates and edits the article. Then can set status to under review when ready.Editor has either read-only, or no permissions at all.
Under ReviewAuthor can edit the article's content, but not the status field.Editor can edit the article, as well as set status to Draft or Published.
PublishedAuthor is no longer responsible for article, and has read-only permissions.Editor has permissions to update or delete the article.

This whole workflow is created with permissions. All we need to do to create these stages is change the author and editor permissions for each item in articles conditionally, based on the value of status.

A Workflow

How-To Guide

Requirements

To implement a workflow, you'll need:

  • An understanding of permissions and filters in Directus.
  • A collection with some kind of content. In this recipe, we'll use a collection called articles.
  • A field on that collection to validate conditionally. We'll use a status field.
  • Two (or more) roles that will work to author content. We'll use writer and editor roles.

To create a structured workflow for articles, follow these steps.

  1. First, create a field to track the article status. We'll call this field status, but it could be named anything.
  2. Create a field with a Dropdown Interface. Name it status and add the stages (draft, under review and published) needed for your content creation process.
  3. Next, create two roles: author and editor.
  4. Finally, configure custom access permissions for each role based on the value of the status field.
    • For the author role:
      • Set a filter under Create > Use Custom > Field Validation to ensure the author can only create articles with a draft status.
      • Enable all read permissions.
      • Set a filter under Update > Use Custom > Item Permissions to ensure the user can update articles with a draft or under review status.
      • Set a filter under Update > Use Custom > Field Validation to ensure the user can only update article status to under review.
      • Keep delete permissions restricted.
      • Keep shares permissions restricted.
    • For the editor role:
      • Keep create permissions restricted.
      • Enable all read permissions.
      • Set a filter under Update > Use Custom > Item Permissions to ensure the user can only update articles with an under review status.
      • Set a filter under Update > Use Custom > Field Validation to ensure the user can only update status to published.
      • Keep delete permissions restricted.
      • Keep shares permissions restricted.

Final Tips

This recipe covers one simple example of a workflow. As you move forward and created your own custom-tailored workflows, just remember:

  • You could use any number of roles.
  • You could use any collection or relationally linked collections.
  • You can add more stages in your workflow by adding more values to your status field.

Be sure to pay close attention to how you configure custom access permissions for workflows. Unintentional misconfigurations can have side-effects.

In our simple articles workflow above, a minor misconfiguration in a co-editing workflow between two team members might not be a big problem. But in other cases it can have big consequences. For example, let's imagine for a second that:

  • The writer and editor roles were teacher and student roles.
  • The articles collection was instead a tests collection.
  • The status field defined if the test was not started, in progress, or submitted.

A minor misconfiguration here could ruin academic integrity. Here's a few potential issues:

  • students retake/re-edit their own submitted test.
  • students take/edit/delete tests of other students.
  • teachers modify the results of students that they like or don't like.
  • and beyond!

When creating your own workflow, its a good idea to define each role involved, each stage in the workflow, and the explicit set of permissions each role has at each stage.

Next Steps

Workflows can be further enhanced with custom Interfaces as well as flows.