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Get started with workflows in SharePoint

  • 4 minutes to read

Learn about the newly engineered Workflow Manager Client 1.0, which provides the infrastructure for workflows in SharePoint, and how SharePoint workflows are integrated with the new model for SharePoint Add-ins.

Important: For instructions on setting up and configuring SharePoint and Microsoft Azure, see Set up and configure SharePoint Workflow Manager.Important: For instructions on setting up and configuring SharePoint and Microsoft Azure, see Set up and configure SharePoint Workflow Manager.

Note

SharePoint 2010 workflows have been retired since August 1, 2020 for new tenants and removed from existing tenants on November 1, 2020. If you're using SharePoint 2010 workflows, we recommend migrating to Power Automate or other supported solutions. For more information, see Retirement of SharePoint 2010 -Workflows.For more info, see SharePoint 2010 workflow retirement.

Overview of workflows in SharePoint

Workflows in SharePoint enable you to develop and automate business processes. These business processes can be a simple document approval process with a single approver (see Figure 1), a complex process with a customer product catalog using web service calls and database support, or virtually any type of sophisticated, structured business process with A variety of conditions, loops, user input, tasks, and custom actions. Workflows in SharePoint allow you to model and automate business processes. These business processes can be as simple as a document approval process with a single approver (shown in Figure 1), as complex as customer-facing product catalog using web service calls and database support, or as formidable as virtually any structured business process, full of conditions, loops, user inputs, tasks, and custom actions.

Figure 1. Simple SharePoint workflowFigure 1. Simple SharePoint workflow

SharePoint is characterized by the introduction of Workflow Manager Client 1.0 as a new powerful foundation for Visual Studio workflows. Based on Windows Workflow Foundation 4, Workflow Manager Client 1.0 offers advantages over previous versions that reflect the evolution of SharePoint in terms of the model for SharePoint add-ins and cloud computing. For details about these changes, see What's New in Workflows for SharePoint and Understanding SharePoint Workflows. SharePoint marks the introduction of Workflow Manager Client 1.0 as the powerful new foundation for Visual Studio workflows. Build on Windows Workflow Foundation 4, Workflow Manager Client 1.0 provides advantages over previous versions that reflect the commitment of SharePoint to the model for SharePoint Add-ins and cloud-based computing. For details of these changes, see What's new in workflows for SharePoint and SharePoint workflow fundamentals.

Perhaps most importantly for workflow creators, workflow setup has been vastly improved and simplified. Workflows are now not only entirely declarative (i.e. designer-based and without coding), but also the primary environments for creating workflows, both Visual Studio 2012 and SharePoint Designer 2013, have been simplified and optimized Your create workflows has been vastly improved and simplified. Not only are workflows now entirely declarative (that is, designer-based, no-code workflows), but the primary workflow authoring environments, both Visual Studio 2012 and SharePoint Designer 2013, have been simplified and streamlined.

The most important further developments to workflows in SharePoint are presented below. For a more detailed overview of what's new in Workflows for SharePoint, see What's New in Workflows for SharePoint. The key enhancements to workflows in SharePoint include the following. For a more detailed overview of what's new in workflows for SharePoint, see What's new in workflows for SharePoint.

  • Improved connectivity to enable cloud-based execution of workflows. In fact, local and Office 365-based workflows are 100% equally important in SharePoint. Enhanced connectivity to enable cloud-based execution of workflows. In fact, there is 100 percent parity in SharePoint between on-premises and Office 365 -based workflows.

  • There is full interoperability in SharePoint with SharePoint 2010 workflows, which is enabled by using the SharePoint workflow interop.

  • Enhanced authoring expressiveness by using Visual Studio events and action, web services, and classic programming structures, all in a declarative , no-code environment.

  • Scalability and robustness that is consistent with requirements for Office 365 and the Cloud App Model.

  • Better connection options for promoting integrated systems with high functionality. You can call up and control your workflows on any external system. In addition, your workflows can direct web service calls to any stream and data source using common protocols such as HTTP, SOAP, Odata (Open Data) and REST (Representational State Transfer). Enhanced connectivity to promote highly functional integrated systems. You can call and control your workflows from any external system. Additionally, your workflow can make web service calls to any stream or data source using common protocols like HTTP, SOAP, the Open Data protocol (OData), and Representational State Transfer (REST) .

  • Enhanced authoring capabilities for the non-developer in SharePoint Designer 2013, and the ability to compose workflow logic in Visio.

  • Enhanced, and yet simplified, workflow development in Visual Studio, streamlined yet simplified workflow development in Visual Studio, including support for custom workflow actions, rapid development in a declarative environment, one-step deployment, and support for SharePoint add-in development. including support for custom workflow actions, rapid development in a declarative environment, single-step deployment, and support for developing SharePoint add-ins.

  • Full support for workflow-powered SharePoint Add-ins, where workflows function as the middle tier for business process management.

Workflow Manager Client 1.0 and the model for SharePoint Add-ins

Visual Studio 2012 is optimized for the development of workflow-controlled SharePoint add-ins and the utilization of the enormous performance and flexibility of the model for SharePoint add-ins. You can use the object model for SharePoint workflows to enable the workflow logic behind a SharePoint app in such a way that end users are shown the app interface itself, while the app below is controlled by your workflow logic. Visual Studio 2012 is optimized for developing workflow-driven SharePoint Add-ins and for exploiting the enormous power and flexibility of the model for SharePoint add-ins. You can use the SharePoint workflow object model to enable workflow logic underneath a SharePoint app in such a way that end users experience the app surface itself while underneath the app is driven by your workflow logic.

Additionally, Visual Studio 2012 is ideal for developing Office Add-ins, which can run workflows from inside a Microsoft Office application.

Creating SharePoint workflowsAuthoring SharePoint workflows

There are two primary authoring environments for Workflow Manager Client 1.0: SharePoint Designer 2013 and Visual Studio. In addition, business-minded employees can use Visio to create workflow logic that they can then import into SharePoint Designer and incorporate into a SharePoint workflow project. There are two primary authoring environments for Workflow Manager Client 1.0: SharePoint Designer 2013 and Visual Studio. Additionally, non-technical information workers can use Visio to construct workflow logic that you can then import into SharePoint Designer and assemble into a SharePoint workflow project.

However, the primary authoring environments are Visual Studio 2012 and SharePoint Designer 2013. However, the primary authoring environments are Visual Studio 2012 and SharePoint Designer 2013. To help you decide which of these best suits your needs, see the decision matrix in Comparing SharePoint Designer with Visual Studio.

SharePoint Designer 2013 as workflow authoring tool

In many ways, SharePoint Designer 2013 is the best authoring tool for SharePoint workflows. While some advanced tasks (such as creating custom actions) require developer intervention with Visual Studio, SharePoint Designer 2013 gives a wide range of workflow builders the most flexible access to workflow development of choice for SharePoint workflows. Although some advanced tasks (like creating custom actions, for example) require the intervention of a developer using Visual Studio, SharePoint Designer 2013 provides the most flexible access to workflow development to the widest range of workflow authors.

Create a workflow using Visual Studio 2012

SharePoint workflow project types are built into Visual Studio 2012. To create a SharePoint workflow project in Visual Studio, follow these steps.

To create a workflow using Visual Studio

  1. Open Visual Studio 2012 and create a new project. In the dialog box, choose New project successively templates, Visual c #, Office SharePoint, SharePoint solutions and SharePoint project (See Figure 2). Open Visual Studio 2012 and create a new project. In the New Project dialog box, choose Templates, Visual c #, Office SharePoint, SharePoint Solutions, and SharePoint Project, as shown in Figure 2.

    Figure 2. New Project Dialog BoxFigure 2. New Project dialog box

  1. After creating the project, select from the menu Project the command Add new item and then under the element Office SharePoint the entry Workflow (See Figure 3). With the project created, choose Add New Item on the Project menu, and then choose Workflow under the Office SharePoint item, as shown in Figure 3.

    Figure 3. Add New Item Dialog BoxFigure 3. Add New Item dialog box

  1. After creating the workflow project, you will be presented with a designer interface on which you can create your workflow. The workflow development environment includes a custom toolbox with a wide range of elements for creating workflows. After the workflow project is created, you are presented with a designer surface on which to create your workflow. The workflow development environment includes a custom toolbox with a large range of workflow authoring elements.

    Figure 4. Visual Studio toolbox for creating workflowsFigure 4. Visual Studio workflow authoring toolbox

See alsoSee also

More information about SharePoint add-ins see the following topics: For more information about SharePoint add-ins, see the following:

Learn more about developing workflows with Visual Studio 2012 and SharePoint Designer 2013 For more information about developing workflows using Visual Studio 2012 other SharePoint Designer 2013, see the following:

For more information about Windows Workflow Foundation 4, see the following: