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Building Workflows in SharePoint 2010

Workflows are a great way to enhance productivity and to automate many of your business processes. Being the 'Business Collaboration Suite,' no wonder SharePoint 2010 simplifies the process of building and deploying workflows. It also provides more choices for building workflows, which means your needs are better met if you're creating and maintaining workflow models. 

Let us take a look at the different Workflow options we have in SharePoint 2010.

There are several options to choose from if you want to build Workflows in SharePoint 2010:

  • Using SharePoint 2010 User Interface
  • Using SharePoint Designer 2010
  • Using Microsoft Visio 2010
  • Using Visual Studio 2010
Using the SharePoint 2010 User Interface

This is probably the easiest and simplest way of building simple list workflows. You are provided with the option to create a workflow from the out-of-the-box installed workflows:


list workflows


If there are any initiation forms or association forms connected with the workflow, you will be prompted to fill in the fields:

workflow fields


Using SharePoint Designer 2010

This is probably the best option if you want to build custom workflows. There were fewer options to do this in SharePoint Designer 2007, but with SharePoint Designer 2010 you have several workflow actions out of the box that you can use.

An example of this is the task actions category and the available actions in that category:


Task actions

SharePoint Designer also provides a workflow editor where you are able to edit your workflow by adding actions, steps and conditions:


Workflow editor


I would highly recommend having a look at all the actions available. Almost all the actions are suited to common business requirements. And with one click you are able to publish the workflow to the SharePoint site!


Publishing workflows


Using Visio 2010

You can now use Visio 2010 to design SharePoint Workflows which supports the Business Process Modelling Notation.


Visio workflow diagram


Workflows designed in Visio can be exported and imported into SharePoint Designer 2010 where you can then specify the values for your workflow.


Importing in Visio


 You can also export a SharePoint Designer 2010 workflow and import in Visio 2010.


SharePoint 2010 Designer workflow


Using Visual Studio 2010

If none of the out-of-the box actions or workflow templates suits you, you can build your own using Visual Studio 2010. Visual Studio 2010 has two Workflow project templates to choose from:

  1. Sequential Workflow
  2. State Machine Workflows

Depending on your requirements you may choose to design and build your workflows using Visual Studio 2010. For example, if you need to develop a State Workflow, then Visual Studio 2010 would be the only option as you cannot design a State Workflow using SharePoint Designer.

Site Workflows

At many instances you might just want to add a workflow to your site and start it based on various other factors. In SharePoint 2007, a workflow must be associated with a list item or document item. With SharePoint 2010, you now have the ability to build workflows against the Site resulting in the workflow not being associated with a list item or document item.

Reusable Workflows

In SharePoint 2007, a workflow model created in SharePoint Designer could only be associated with one list. In SharePoint Designer 2010, you can create reusable declarative workflows which do not rely on a specific list but can be associated with any list. The workflow design can be reused and associated with multiple lists. And also you can save these reusable workflows as templates (SharePoint solution package) which you can then install to another SharePoint 2010 server or load in Visual Studio 2010 to further develop on the workflow.

Building workflows have been greatly improved in SharePoint 2010, with lots more workflow tools at our disposal.

If you've got a question about improving your workflow experience, drop me a line!

Posted by: Chakkaradeep Chandran, Developer | 07 July 2010

Tags: SharePoint 2010, Workflow

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