SharePoint 2013 and Workflows

Hesam Seyed Mousavi, Mar 31, 2013

One of the much improved features of SharePoint 2013 is the workflow engine. SharePoint 2010 used ‘Windows Workflow Foundation 3.5’ to power workflows. SharePoint 2013 changes this, and uses ‘Windows Azure Workflows’. This means quite a big change to how things work behind the scenes.  Workflows now run as a separate service to SharePoint itself, and can be hosted on-premise or externally.

The new workflow platform, dubbed ‘Workflow Manager’, brings with it many new enterprise class capabilities. Technet lists these capabilities as:

  • High Density and Multi-Tenancy
  • Activity / Workflow Artifact Management
  • Tracking and Monitoring
  • Instance Management
  • Fully Declarative Authoring
  • REST and Service Bus Messaging
  • Managed Service Reliability

SharePoint Designer 2013 now includes everything you need to build these new workflows, with some nice improvements over the previous version:

  • Visual development tools using a Visio 2013 add-in
  • Ability to call ‘web services’ without writing any code
  • New building blocks like ‘Stage’, ‘Loop’, and ‘App step’

SharePoint Designer – with no Design Mode

Somewhat controversially this new version of Designer has done away with ‘Design mode’. This has caused great concern with some users. There is a detailed discussion on TechNet about the pros and cons of this change, and Asif Rehmani has written a good post describing exactly what has happened. Developers, and more experienced users, can of course use still use Visual Studio to build workflows.

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