SharePoint Designer 2010: Workflow Features

Update!
If you want to learn about SharePoint Designer 2010, you should check out http://www.sharepointdesigner2010workflow.com/.

I am sure you all saw the really fancy sneak peek of SharePoint 2010 yesterday. I thought that since most people now have seen the stuff, I can post some more info about what’s coming.

Let start with what you likely know already.

Now, the first thing I am going to mention is that SharePoint Designer 2010 will now support re-useable workflows. But you knew that, so not much news. You can create a workflow and then attach it to different lists.

Of course, the Workflow Designer itself will improve, and offer a more visually intuitive interface. I haven’t seen the designer myself, but I suspect that you will have a workflow designer integrated into SPD more like a page editor is today, as opposed to the dialog box wizard of SPD 2007. In any case, you’ll be able to add steps, branches, if/else conditions, etc. If Microsoft wants to mimic a really good and intuitive interface, they will make something like the Nintex Workflow Designer.

If you want to learn how intuitive the Nintex Workflow Designer is, pick up the free Using Nintex Workflow 2007 issue of Understanding SharePoint Journal.

Let’s move on to what I have learned but haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere.

Since we were talking about re-usable workflows… Well, actually, I was talking, or more correct writing, and you were reading… Anyway, on the topic of reusable workflows, you can now also create workflows that are made available for later attachment from the web interface. This is how workflows are made in Visual Studio; you create the workflow, deploy it to the site, and then, when the need arises, you attach it to any list from the web interface. This hasn’t been possible in SPD before, but if all features remain intact, it will be possible in SPD 2010 workflows.

Another massive improvement in SharePoint Designer 2010, is that SPD will support attaching workflows to content types, not just lists. Content types is by far the coolest thing in SharePoint, but a serious lack in functionality is the ability to attach SPD workflows to specific content types. That’s all about to change.

If you want to learn just how cool content types are, pick up issue 2 of USPJ, titled Developing SharePoint Content Types.

What you might not know, however, is that SPD 2010 will support workflow templates. Much like other workflow tools, like Nintex and K2, you can now create workflow templates for use at a later time. I don’t know too much about the details except that it will be possible.

Another topic I don’t really know much about, is the ability to import and export workflows from Visio. You may know that, like Excel got with its Excel Services, Visio now gets a service as well, the Visio Services. Thank heavens for creative naming. However, I do not know at this time if the workflow interaction will be part of the Visio Services, but I do know that you can both import SharePoint Designer workflows from Visio and export SharePoint Designer workflows to Visio.

If you have worked with K2 before, you may have heard about the concept of outcomes. Basically, rather than having simple approve/reject outcomes from a task, a task can have any number of outcomes, such as approve/reject/get second opinion/fire that bastard. From what I can tell, SharePoint Designer workflows will also support multiple and custom outcomes from a single task.

Now, I do have a surprise for you if you haven’t worked with K2 before, and you will want to sign up to the USPJ mailing list to learn more.

I’m starting to sound like a commercial for myself. I’ll stop now.

Ooh, and one more thing. SharePoint Designer workflows will now have the ability to impersonate another user in selected steps. This allows workflow designers to temporarily raise permissions in order to access functionality beyond the scope of a limited user, much like developers have been able to do in code for years. Not sure if one is able to impersonate a specific user, though, I’m not sure how they would solve the security issue of storing and maintaining passwords.

As always, everything I say here is a blatant lie, and I have likely gotten this information from highly illegal sources, meaning you should shun the information here. In fact, your best course of action is to burn this page and never think of it again.

.b

Update!
If you want to learn about SharePoint Designer 2010, you should check out http://www.sharepointdesigner2010workflow.com/.

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Bjørn Furuknap

I previously did SharePoint. These days, I try new things to see where I can find the passion. If you have great ideas, cool projects, or is in general an awesome person, get in touch and we might find out together.

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