Process Applications

A process application is an ordinary Java application that uses the Camunda process engine for BPM and workflow functionality. Most such applications will start their own process engine (or use a process engine provided by the runtime container), deploy some BPMN 2.0 process definitions and interact with process instances derived from these process definitions. Since most process applications perform very similar bootstrapping, deployment and runtime tasks, we generalized this functionality into a Java Class which is named - Surprise! - ProcessApplication. The concept is similar to the class in JAX-RS: adding the process application class allows you to bootstrap and configure the provided services.

Adding a ProcessApplication class to your Java application provides your applications with the following services:

  • Bootstrap embedded process engine(s) or look up container managed process engine(s). You can define multiple process engines in a file named processes.xml which is added to your application. The ProcessApplication class makes sure this file is picked up and the defined process engines are started and stopped as the application is deployed/undeployed.
  • Automatic deployment of classpath BPMN 2.0 resources. You can define multiple deployments (process archives) in the processes.xml file. The ProcessApplication class makes sure the deployments are performed upon deployment of your application. Scanning your application for process definition resource files (ending in *.bpmn20.xml or *.bpmn) is supported as well.
  • Resolution of application-local Java Delegate implementations and Beans in case of a multi-application deployment. The ProcessApplication class allows your Java Application to expose your local Java Delegate implementations or Spring/CDI beans to a shared, container managed process engine. This way you can start a single process engine that dispatches to multiple process applications that can be (re-)deployed independently.

Transforming an existing Java Application into a process application is easy and non-intrusive. You simply have to add:

  • A ProcessApplication class: The ProcessApplication class constitutes the interface between your application and the process engine. There are different base classes you can extend to reflect different environments (e.g., Servlet vs. EJB Container).
  • A processes.xml file to META-INF: The deployment descriptor file allows you to provide a declarative configuration of the deployment(s) that this process application makes to the process engine. It can be empty (see the empty processes.xml section) and serve as simple marker file. If it is not present then the engine will start up but auto-deployment will not be performed.


You might want to check out the Getting Started Tutorial first as it explains the creation of a process application step by step or the Project Templates for Maven, which give you a complete running process application out of the box.

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