MicroWorkflow 1.5.0

dotnet add package MicroWorkflow --version 1.5.0
NuGet\Install-Package MicroWorkflow -Version 1.5.0
This command is intended to be used within the Package Manager Console in Visual Studio, as it uses the NuGet module's version of Install-Package.
<PackageReference Include="MicroWorkflow" Version="1.5.0" />
For projects that support PackageReference, copy this XML node into the project file to reference the package.
paket add MicroWorkflow --version 1.5.0
#r "nuget: MicroWorkflow, 1.5.0"
#r directive can be used in F# Interactive and Polyglot Notebooks. Copy this into the interactive tool or source code of the script to reference the package.
// Install MicroWorkflow as a Cake Addin
#addin nuget:?package=MicroWorkflow&version=1.5.0

// Install MicroWorkflow as a Cake Tool
#tool nuget:?package=MicroWorkflow&version=1.5.0

Micro Workflow .net

Stats Stats Stats

Micro Workflow is a very fast, small, embedable and distributed workflow system primarily for .Net developers.

The code base is so small every one can read and understand the inner workings if necesarry.

1. Why use Micro Workflow

You should consider using Micro Workflow due to one or more of the following reason

when you have a need for a queue, scheduling of code to execute, or a business process that needs to be robus. We provide many examples in "integration patterns"


  • We model only the steps in a workflow, not the transitions between them
    • This greatly simplify the model, the versioning of flows and steps
    • enable you to use reusable code blocks for determining a transition
  • It is easy to embed it directly into your solutions to improve resiliance or use as a stand-alone workflow

We use C# all the way

  • We don't want to invent a new language - we love C#!
  • Workflow code is readable, debugable, and testable - like the rest of your code base.
  • You can use existing best practices for logging, IOC containers etc. of your choice
  • Since Workflow code is just C# it is easy to commit and merge use your existing branching strategies
  • You do not need a special graphical editor for specifying flows

The datamodel is simple - just three DB tables

  • If things break in production, it is easy for you to figure out what has happened and remedy the problem
  • You can reason about the consequences of versioning the step implementations vs. simply change the existing flows

Distributed mindset

  • Supports Fail-over setup To improve up-time applications/integrations are often running on multiple servers at the same time. This is a common scenario is supported with no special setup.
  • Supports incremental deployments across more instances. When deploying multiple instances, the roll-out is typical gradual. Hence we support that steps may be added that is only known to a sub-set of the running workflows.


  • You can add more workers in the workflow engine (vertical scaling)
  • You can add more servers each running a workflow engine (horizontal scaling)

No external dependencies

  • The core library has no external dependencies, you can use whatever database, logger, json/xml/binary serializer you want ... in any version you want
  • Convenience supplement nuget packages for Newtonsoft json, Ado .net, and Autofac are provided

2. Overview


Supported scalabilities

Supported scalabilities

3. Getting started

To define a workflow with the two steps FetchData (which fetches some data), and AnalyzeWords (that analyzes the data), we implement interface IStepImplementation twice. To transition from one step to one (or several steps), use Done(). This tells the engine that the current step has finished sucesfully. You can supply one or more steps that will be executed in the future. This is how you control ordering of events.

There are no restrictions on the names of steps, but we found using a scheme similar to REST api's is beneficial. Hence we recommend you to use {version}/{business domain}/{workflow name}/{workflow step}.

class FetchData : IStepImplementation
    public const string Name = "v1/demos/fetch-word-analyze-email/fetch";

    public async Task<ExecutionResult> ExecuteAsync(Step step)
        var url = step.State;
        var result = await new HttpClient().GetAsync(url);
        var content = result.Content.ReadAsStringAsync();

        return step.Done()
                .With(new Step(AnalyzeWords.Name, content));

class AnalyzeWords : IStepImplementation
    public const string Name = "v1/demos/fetch-wordanalyze-email/process";

    public async Task<ExecutionResult> ExecuteAsync(Step step)
        return step.Done();

And then to start everyting we instantiate a workflow engine and add concrete steps

var engine = new WorkflowEngine(...);
engine.Data.Add(new Step(FetchData.Name, "https://www.acme.company/rss"));

Below are some more elaborate exaples.

Simple console demo

A fully working C# example in one file: https://github.com/kbilsted/MicroWorkflow.net/blob/master/src/Demos/ConsoleDemo/Program.cs

Webapi demo

Now that you have understood the basics, lets make an example using a real IOC container and a database see https://github.com/kbilsted/MicroWorkflow.net/tree/master/src/Demos/WebApiDemo

IOC container

You can use any IOC container that supports named instances. We use Autofac. For more information see https://github.com/kbilsted/MicroWorkflow.net/tree/master/src/Product/MicroWorkflow.Ioc.Autofac


You likely want to persist workflows in a database. We currently use Microsoft SQL Server in production environments, but and SQL database should be easy to get working. For more information see https://github.com/kbilsted/MicroWorkflow.net/tree/master/src/Product/MicroWorkflow.AdoPersistence

4. Core concepts in Micro Workflow

The model revolves around the notion of a step. A step is in traditional workfow litterature referred to as an activity. Where activities live in a workflow. The workflow has identity and state and so forth. In Micro Workflow, however, there is only a FlowId property. No modelling of transitions nor workflow state. It is often desireable to store state around your business entities, in fact it is highly encouraged that you keep doing this.

A step has the following properties

  • A step has a name that identifies what code to execute when the steps executes
  • A step has a state which can be deserialed during execution and is serialized after execution. It is not uncommon that it simply holds a reference to data in other database tables.
  • A schedule date that denote the earliest execution time of the step.
  • A singleton flag denoting that only a single step with that name can exist in the ready queue. This is useful for monitoring steps or scenarios where multiple servers are in use.
  • A step lives in either of 3 queues:
    • ready (execution has not yet started, or the step has executed with errors and is automatically retried).
    • failed (execution is given up and not retried),
    • done (succesful execution).
  • During a step execution a step can spawn one or many new steps. Hence forming a chain or a graph of things to do. These steps execute after the current step.
  • Each step has a number of tracking fields such as create date, execution time, correlation id, flow id, created by id.
  • There are a few more fields, they are all documented here https://github.com/kbilsted/MicroWorkflow.net/blob/master/src/Product/MicroWorkflow/Step.cs

Orthogonal to the step data we have step implementations.

  • These are code blocks with names.
  • An implementation may have multiple names, this is very useful in a number of situations
    • When reusing step implementations across versions or across multiple workflows
    • when refactoring step names
    • It provides better loggin context information, for example, rather than using a generic name like "send email", we can use a descriptive name "v1/customer-onboarding/send-email" and "v1/customer-churn/send-email", making it easy to identify which flows and business impact on failure..

Operations you can do on steps

  • A ready step may be activated meaning that it changes scheduling time, and activation parameters may be given.
  • A done/failed step may be re-executed, by making a copy of it and adding it to the ready queue.

5. Integration patterns

We discuss some of the typical integration patterns between services

A queue with unlimited retries and no strict FIFO ordering

A queue implementation where elements are placed in a persistent storage and processed one by one. In case of an error, the element is retried later whilst other elements are processed. This queue is mostly FIFO (first in first out), but due to the nature of the retry, it is not guaranteed.

This implementation is also known as an "outbox pattern".

The Micro Workflow uses a dynamic number of workers for execution so scale up easily.

The implementation roughly

class SendMemberEnrollmentToAcmeCompany(HttpClient client) : IStepImplementation
    public const string Name = "v1/Send-member-enrollment-to-Acme-company";

    public async Task<ExecutionResult> ExecuteAsync(Step step)
        var result = await client.PostAsync("...", null);
        return step.Done();

A queue with limited and intelligent retries and no strict FIFO ordering

Similar to the above example except

We retry only 5 times, and we retry only if the receiving service fails with a http 500 range. A http 400 range signals the payload is wrong and thus we fail the job.

class SendMemberEnrollmentToAcmeCompanyLimitedRetry(HttpClient client) : IStepImplementation
    public const string Name = "v1/Send-member-enrollment-to-Acme-company-limited-retry";

    public async Task<ExecutionResult> ExecuteAsync(Step step)
        if (step.ExecutionCount >= 5)
            return step.Fail("too many retries");

        var result = await client.PostAsync("...", null);

        switch ((int)result.StatusCode)
            case >= 200 and < 300: 
                return step.Done();

            case >= 400 and < 500: 
                return step.Fail("Wrong payload " + result.ToString());

            case >= 500:
                return step.Rerun(description: $"Upstream error {result}");

            default: throw new NotImplementedException(); 

A queue that may only perform operations in a limited time window

Some integrations are prohibited from running 24/7. For examples systems running nightly batch processing. Similar, integration with customers are sometimes implemeted such that the customer is not disturbed in the middle of the night with notifications but only within "reasonable hours" e.g between 7-20.

class SendMemberEnrollmentToAcmeCompanyLimitedTimewindow() : IStepImplementation
    public const string Name = "v1/Send-member-enrollment-to-Acme-company-limited-from-0700-to-2000";

    public async Task<ExecutionResult> ExecuteAsync(Step step)
        // ensure window of 0700 - 2000
        var now = DateTime.Now;
        if (now.Hour < 7)
            return step.Rerun(scheduleTime: now.Date.AddHours(7));

        if (now.Hour >= 20)
            return step.Rerun(scheduleTime: now.Date.AddDays(1).AddHours(7));

        // ... do stuff

        return step.Done();

A scheduled task Once every hour tp fetch latest data from source

For this scenario to work we run the same code block over and over again with a set interval. We utilize that a step may defined as singleton meaning that it can only exist once in the ready queue. Thus we cannot accidently add the step twice (i.e. in a distributed environment). We use AddStepIfNotExists() but could have used Add() with a try..catch.

public void ScheduleDataFetch(WorkflowEngine engine)
    var step = new Step(ScheduledFetchDataOnceAnHour.Name)
        Singleton = true,
        ScheduleTime = DateTime.Now.Date.AddHours(DateTime.Now.Hour)

    engine.Data.AddStepIfNotExists(step, new SearchModel(Name: ScheduledFetchDataOnceAnHour.Name));

And for fun, we fail the step if it has not been created correctly, to ensure we don't mess up.

class ScheduledFetchDataOnceAnHour() : IStepImplementation
    public const string Name = "v1/fetch-data-from-acme-once-an-hour";

    public async Task<ExecutionResult> ExecuteAsync(Step step)
        if (!step.Singleton)
            throw new FailCurrentStepException("Must be a singleton step!");

        // ... fetch data

        return step.Rerun(scheduleTime: step.ExecutionStartTime!.Value.AddHours(1));

6. Performance

Simplicify is the focus of the code base. Performance is simply a side-effect of keeping things simple.

On a 2020 mid-tier computer we execute 10.000/sec steps using a single Workflow engine with 8 workers and an un-optimized SQL Server instance.

Your milage may wary, so I highly recommend you do your own measurements before jumping to any conclusions. You can take outset in some simple test scenarios at https://github.com/kbilsted/MicroWorkflow.net/blob/master/src/Demos/MicroWorkFlow.Tests/PerformanceTests.cs

7. Flow versioning

Since each step may be regarded as being part of a flow, or as a single independent step, there is no notion of versions. However, you can use a version number in steps (similar to using version in REST api's). This enable you to create a new version with new steps that has a different implementation to the old. This way existing steps can operate on the old code, and new steps operate on the new code. If all steps need to execute on the new code, simply use multiple step names for the new implementation that match the two versions.

8. Retries and ordering

The automatic retry of a step in case of a failure is key feature. You can control ordering to some degree by putting longer and longer delays when retrying a failing step. This technique is sometimes called exponential back-off, since the time between retries exponentially increase to ensure throughput of succesful jobs. The default retry delay is calculated as delay = retries^3 seconds.

If you want to stop retrying either return a step.Fail() or throw FailCurrentStepException.

Step execution is only orderes by an earliest execution time. If you need to control that step "B" execute before step "C". Then from step "A" spawn a step "B", and in step "B" spawn a step "C".

Another way to gain conceptual insights into the framework, we explain why Micro Workflow is a good implementation fit to many concepts.

Micro Workflow as a Queue

You may not think of Micro Workflow as a queue since the step execution is unordered. Queue's are asociated with FIFO - First In First Out. A consequence of FIFO is that when queue elements can fail and retry, the FIFO property will stop the entire queue. For most real life scenarios this is unacceptable, hence most queues are in fact not FIFO.

Thus we can implement a queue as a a workflow with only one step.

Micro Workflow as a Job scheduler

The system can act as a job scheduler. A step can be scheduled for a certain time and re-executed again at a certain time. To ensure only one instance exist, use the Singleton attribute.

Micro Workflow as the 'outbox pattern'

The outbox pattern is an implementation strategy you often read about when dealing with events or distributed systems. It is a way to ensure that notifying other systems of a change happens in the same transaction as the change itself. The implementation is simply to insert a row into a queue that notifies the other system.

This is exactly a one-to-one match with a step in Micro Workflow.

Product Compatible and additional computed target framework versions.
.NET net6.0 is compatible.  net6.0-android was computed.  net6.0-ios was computed.  net6.0-maccatalyst was computed.  net6.0-macos was computed.  net6.0-tvos was computed.  net6.0-windows was computed.  net7.0 was computed.  net7.0-android was computed.  net7.0-ios was computed.  net7.0-maccatalyst was computed.  net7.0-macos was computed.  net7.0-tvos was computed.  net7.0-windows was computed.  net8.0 is compatible.  net8.0-android was computed.  net8.0-browser was computed.  net8.0-ios was computed.  net8.0-maccatalyst was computed.  net8.0-macos was computed.  net8.0-tvos was computed.  net8.0-windows was computed. 
Compatible target framework(s)
Included target framework(s) (in package)
Learn more about Target Frameworks and .NET Standard.
  • net6.0

    • No dependencies.
  • net8.0

    • No dependencies.

NuGet packages (3)

Showing the top 3 NuGet packages that depend on MicroWorkflow:

Package Downloads

Package Description


Package Description


Package Description

GitHub repositories

This package is not used by any popular GitHub repositories.

Version Downloads Last updated
1.5.0 131 2/27/2024
1.3.4 121 2/12/2024