Join Gini von Courter for an in-depth discussion in this video What you need to know, part of SharePoint Designer 2010: Building Custom Workflows.
Before we jump into SharePoint workflows, I'd like to talk to you for just a few minutes about what you'll need for this course and what you might not need to make sure that you know what your environment looks like. I'll be using SharePoint Foundation 2010, and this was an intentional choice. SharePoint Foundation is the most broadly distributed version of SharePoint, because it's packaged with Windows server. So many organizations that bought Windows server have this already, and may be using it, may not be, but the chances are that in your organization there's a group of people who are already spending some time looking at SharePoint Foundation 2010.
This platform allows us to collaborate, it lets users share documents and lists, set alerts, create calendars, share contacts. For you and I, it's a platform to launch and serve workflows. You'll also need to have SharePoint Designer 2010. This is going to be our development environment. It's a really safe space for us to learn how to build workflows, but you can also use it to customize SharePoint. There are other courses in the lynda.com online training library that use SharePoint Designer to brand sites or to create forms or for other purposes.
So it's a multi-use development environment, but we'll be using it looking specifically at workflows. If you have SharePoint Designer 2007, by the way, that won't work. SharePoint Designer 2007 only works with SharePoint 2007 sites, and 2010 only works with 2010 sites. If you need to have both SharePoint Designer 2010 and 2007 on one machine, for example, because you have sites in both like I do, pay attention to the installation instructions for SharePoint Designer 2010 on the Microsoft site, because there's information on how you can have both on one machine, and a very specific sequence of installation.
Now, these two programs, this is all you need to have, but you might have some more things, and they're worth pointing out. For example, if you have InfoPath 2007 or 2010, then you can use that to create forms and use them in your workflows. The forms you create can be filled out by users who are using InfoPath 2007 or the InfoPath 2010 Filler. Either of those client applications will work to complete forms. It may be that your organization uses SharePoint Server 2010, which is the larger, more impressive, and therefore more expensive version of SharePoint.
Actually, there are two flavors of SharePoint Server, one called Standard, and one called Enterprise. And if your organization has the enterprise version, one of the things that it does is it provides what are called services, the ability to serve, for example, Excel workbooks, or to be able to serve particular kinds of diagrams or access services for Microsoft Access. From our point of view, what we care about is that it can serve web-based forms. So there is an InfoPath form service that runs on SharePoint Enterprise Server 2010, and if this is your environment, then the forms that you would create in InfoPath 2010 could then be viewed and completed in a browser by your users.
You might also have some version of Visio and really any version of Visio is great to be able to create diagrams of the workflows that you and I will be building. That's the kind of documentation then that more easily allows users to see what it is you're going to be creating, and to provide you with better feedback. Or you might have Visio 2010 Premium, which is a new version of Visio. And if you do, you can use that to document workflows. You can also use it to export back and forth between Visio and SharePoint Designer.
So, I can take a workflow I created in SharePoint Designer, export it to Visio, and then play with it there to create a presentation that will be even more meaningful. But more importantly, if I have users in the business who can use Visio, they can use Visio Premium to begin to design a workflow that I can then take into SharePoint Designer. Developers in your organization--and you may be one of them--may have Visual Studio, which is a complete programming environment. It allows you to create forms, workflows, web pages, entire applications that you can create in Visual Studio.
At some point, if you're creating very complex workflows, you'll get to the point where you want to do something in a workflow that you can no longer do using SharePoint Designer, and at that point, the answer might be to do it in Visual Studio. In earlier versions of SharePoint, I'd hit that wall pretty early. Now, there's so much that I can do in SharePoint Designer that I rarely have a need for Visual Studio. But when I do, I can simply do as much of the workflow as I can in SharePoint Designer, export that workflow, and then it can be imported into Visual Studio.
Remember though, that despite all of those tools existing, and you may have a number of them, the only thing you absolutely need in this course is SharePoint Foundation 2010 and SharePoint Designer 2010. You have those two things, and you're going to create some amazing workflows. And there's one more thing you need, you need to have been given the appropriate permissions to be able to develop workflows in SharePoint. So, you'll need administrative permissions to the lists or libraries where you're going to be developing. This is because SharePoint is designed to protect our data.
We're not going to let just anybody develop workflows. So, this is a great time to go talk to the folks in your information technology or info services department, and have them set you up a site where you have administrative permissions so that you can try these tools and see how these workflows work out for you. I think that's it! Time to get to work!
- Understanding workflows
- Documenting workflows with Excel, Visio, and the Office Drawing Tools
- Running the built-in workflows in SharePoint
- Understanding actions and conditions
- Working with if-then and if-then-else conditions
- Managing workflow messages with Outlook rules
- Pausing and stopping workflows with core actions
- Maintaining workflows with email aliases, workflow logs, and error traps
- Creating custom content types
- Creating a site workflow
- Exporting and publishing workflows