As the name implies, the General tab is where the general information about the action sequence is managed. Stuff like the title, description, and icon that will appear for this action sequence when browsing your solution. Additionally you can indicate the logging level you would like to use for this action sequence. Logged messages will appear in the pentaho-bi-suite/jboss/server/default/log/server.log file. If you're having problems getting your action sequences working, the log file is a good place to look for clues as to what the problem might be.
Define Process Tab
Notice there along the left hand side of this tab are three sections labeled "Process Inputs", "Process Actions" and "Process Outputs." Taken together these three sections define the task to be performed my this action sequence. Let's take a closer look at each.
The Process Inputs section This represents the "contract" this action sequence this has with the outside world regarding information that will be needed for this action sequence to run. Inputs can come from the request (URL in most cases), the session or runtime. Resources are the files needed by the action sequence to complete its job. For example, if an action sequence is going to run a JFree report (which this one does), one of the resources would be the location of the JFree report definition file.
Selecting an input in this section will display a detailed look at the input to the right of the inputs tree. The Source of Input Section is where you indicate where to look for each input. When this action sequence runs there are three possible places each input can come from. One is the request (usually the http request). Input values coming from the request are determined by looking at the URL that caused the action sequence to run. Alternatively, input values can come from the session (usually the http session within which the action sequence is running). Finally, the default source, is the runtime context. That's the place where the outputs for each action sequence are placed and made available to other action sequences. In our example the inputs won't be available in any of those three locations. Instead this action sequence has default values assigned for each input. It is possible to assign multiple sources to an action input, in addition to a default value. In this case the sources will be searched in the order in which they are specified, and the default value will be used as a last resort.
Taking a look at the resources we see that there's only one, and it's called "Report Definition". Select it and let's have a look at the details. It looks like it's a file located, but someone seems to have forgotten to type in the file location. As the creator of this new action sequence it's our job to fill in the actual file location.
The outputs are what this action sequence will leave behind when it's complete, stuff that other action sequences can use long after this action sequence is gone. Notice that this particular action sequence doesn't have any outputs.
What you see in the Process Actions section is a list of all the actions to be performed by this action sequence. Note that the order is important here. The topmost action will be run first, followed by the one below it, and so on. The second action, the one that starts with "Action Loop" probably deserves special mention. It's a loop action that will perform the actions it contains multiple times, depending on what it's set to loop on. In this case it looks like there are five actions contained in the loop. Let's explore a bit more. Click on the first action in the list, the one that starts with "Lookup", and see what else we can find.
On the right side you can view the details of the Lookup action. You'll notice that there is a place for entering a brief description of the action. It's not necessary to enter anything here, but it's a good idea, as it makes the action sequence much easier to read. The Configuration section is where action specific configuration information is entered; each component has its own editor for settings that make sense for it. In this case there is an area to specify the database connection, the query, and the expected contents of the query result. Now lets click on the "+" sign next to this action in the Process Actions tree. Notice that there are four outputs from this action. The rule-result output is where the results of the query are stored. The remaining three outputs correspond to particular columns within the rule-result output. Other actions that follow can use these outputs as their inputs. So, one action can leave outputs that following actions can use as inputs. Additionally each action has available to it the inputs from the document. These are the things that are coming in from the outside world. The idea is that each little action has something it can do really well. It takes in some input does some work and leaves some output for some other action(s) to use. Your job is to tie these individual actions together to do something meaningful.