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Building Workflows for No-Code Solutions Using External Data with the BCS in SharePoint 2013

In the eleventh and twelfth units of a set of fifteen units of video training content on building workflows for external data, in either SharePoint 2013, on premises, or SharePoint Online, Office 365, Fabian Williams, a SharePoint Server MVP, presents a set of procedures, and their underlying components, most likely to be useful for an audience of SharePoint, or Office 365 application developers. These video tutorials will not likely be useful to SharePoint power users. An experience set which includes extensive work with JavaScript, modern Open Protocols (including OAuth and OData), and Visual Studio is required to digest the information Williams communicates, and to put it to good use.

The comparatively high barrier to entry implicit to the principles presented in these two video tutorials (the first of these is titled External Data and SharePoint Workflows. Both of these units are included in a set titled SharePoint 2013: Working with External Data in SharePoint 2013 using BCS and Workflows – On Premises, and Online, which is available for purchase and for local use by either individuals, or groups) should stand in contrast to how workflows, as a method of developing processes, is usually presented.

But the barrier to entry does exist and SharePoint stakeholders researching how best to develop custom solutions for specific implementations will do well to respect it. For example, in the first of these units Williams informs his audience the technical foundation underpinning no-code workflows has been substantially changed in SharePoint 2013, and SharePoint Online, Office 365:

  • SharePoint 2013 Workflows are Powered by Windows Workflow Foundation 4 (WF4)
  • WF4 is Built on the Messaging Functionality That is Provided by Windows Communication Foundation (WCF)
  • WF4 and WCF are Hosted in Workflow Manager Client 1.0 (WMC 1.0)
  • WMC 1.0 is Used to Manage Workflow Definitions. WMC 1.0 Also Acts as Host for the Execution Processes

In order to ensure optimum return on investment in the form of time, and, perhaps, cost, anyone viewing these videos should also have a grounding in Web Services and the new Stages feature of Workflows in SharePoint Designer 2013.

The flip side of the high bar represented by these two units, for those developers bringing the required experience set to this presentation, amounts to a highly condensed, information-packed, presentation of how to successfully build a complex process with no-code tools, in this case, SharePoint Designer, 2013.

Ira Michael Blonder

©Rehmani Consulting, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder 2014 All Rights Reserved

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