SharePoint 2013 workflow architecture and components

This SharePoint workflow tutorial, we will discuss workflow architecture in SharePoint 2013 and also we will see various components of SharePoint designer workflow.

SharePoint 2013 workflow architecture

In SharePoint 2013 workflow is treated as a service. Now SharePoint workflows will not run in SharePoint servers, rather the execution will be handled by Windows Azure Workflow on a separate server.

SharePoint 2013 workflow supports Windows Workflow Foundation 4.0 and .NET Framework 4.5.

In SharePoint 2010, power users use SharePoint Designer to build declarative workflows and developers use Visual Studio to build programmatic workflows. But in SharePoint 2013 the focus is to build workflows declaratively.

In SharePoint 2010 all out of box workflows are declarative workflows and the new workflows you build either by using SharePoint Designer 2013 or Visual Studio 2013 will also be declarative.

Since all SharePoint 2013 workflows are declarative, you can use sandboxed solutions to deploy your workflow.

Microsoft recommends to build new workflows using the SharePoint 2013 workflow model and push the custom code to web services. Building a programmatic workflow all from scratch is still possible but is not recommended. SharePoint can’t host a programmatic workflow, and it has to be deployed to Windows

Azure Workflow as a non-SharePoint 2013 workflow.

SharePoint 2013 supports backward-compatibility, so existing SharePoint 2010 workflows can migrate to SharePoint 2013 without any problems. Also, SharePoint 2013 workflows can call SharePoint 2010 workflows.

Windows Azure Workflow and Service Bus are available in Office 365 deployments.

Components of SharePoint designer workflow

Now, we will disucss various components of SharePoint designer workflow.

Below are various components of the SharePoint designer:

Steps:
Steps are the foundation of any workflow and allow you to organize it into logical sections. This could include preparing variables, which are used to store data temporarily while the workflow is running or collecting data from a user.

Steps can be named and renamed by clicking on the existing titles. Similarly, you can delete a step. Also, there can be possible of nested steps.

Conditions:
Conditions allow the workflow to make decisions and respond differently based on the data that is provided by SharePoint lists or end-user entries. You can get all the conditions from the Condition button in the Ribbon. There are a lot of conditions available in SharePoint designer 2010:

  • if any value equals the value
  • If field equals the value
  • Created by a specific person
  • Modified by a specific person
  • A person is a valid SharePoint user
  • Title field contains keywords etc

Actions:
Actions make the workflow do something. You can get all the actions from the Actions tab from the Ribbon. There are different categories of actions. Some actions are: Add a Comment, Log to History List, Check-In Item, Copy List Item, Create List Item, etc.

Variables:
Variables are used to store and manipulate data while the workflow is running. Each time a new workflow instance runs, a new set of variables is used, even if multiple copies of the workflow have been initiated by multiple users. When a workflow is finished, the data in the variables are lost.

When you first create a workflow, it does not have any variables. Sometimes when adding actions to your workflow will automatically create a new variable or variables. For example, adding a Do Calculation action will automatically create a calc variable.

Else-if Conditions:
Else-if branches work directly with conditions for more advanced decision making. To add an else-if condition, place the cursor inside the existing condition and click the Else-If Branch key on the Ribbon.

Forms:
Users can interact with workflows through forms. Forms are pages viewed through the browser that allows the user to supply additional data to a workflow.

You may like following SharePoint workflow tutorials:

This SharePoint tutorial, we discussed SharePoint 2013 workflow architecture and various components of SharePoint designer workflow.

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