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App Step Workflows for SharePoint Server 2013

In a video tutorial titled Intro to Workflow types, models, stages and app step usage scenarios, Chris Beckett, subject matter expert and published author on the topic of workflows in a SharePoint Server computing environment, presents the concept of App Step Workflows for SharePoint Server 2013.

Apps are a new method, introduced with SharePoint Server 2013 and Microsoft Office 2013, of packaging software processes for use with SharePoint Server 2013 and other components of the Office computing suite.

“Steps” were introduced with SharePoint Server 2010 as the key component of a sequentially architected workflow engine. SharePoint Server 2013 does ship with a legacy runtime engine for the old SharePoint Server 2010 workflow engine, But App Step Workflows have nothing to do with workflows for SharePoint Server 2010, despite the inclusion of the word “Step” in the name..

Chris Beckett introduced the concept of the new SharePoint Server 2013 workflow engine and its notion of “stages”, which can be used to compartmentalize routines. Once these routines (or loops) are entirely contained in “stages”, then a required “stage” can be re-inserted at a later point in a complex workflow.

Steps, are of course, sequential and dependent on what precedes and follows; therefore, this architecture cannot be used for complex workflows as a method of achieving the same re-purposing of code we just described in the paragraph above.

Workflow Manager 1.0, which is designed to provide the next generation workflow capability to SharePoint Server 2013 users is, in fact, an entirely separate application and not included with the server. So the App Step Workflow is designed to communicate between Workflow Manager 1.0 and SharePoint Server 2013.

Administrators and developers need to note Chris Beckett’s note on App Steps. In fact they run with the elevated permission set of a site owner, “with full read and write permissions to the entire site” (quoted from Chris Beckett’s video tutorial, a link to which has been provided above). These processes can also run with permissions beyond those of the SharePoint user authoring them. When security is considered for specific workflows a decision will need to be made if App Step Workflows are the best approach, or if a less risky method of building the process makes more sense.

Fortunately Microsoft has helped administrators deal with the security concerns represented by App Step Workflows. In act, this feature must be activated by an administrator before it is available to site members.

App Steps can be embedded in the logic of complex workflows, which Chris Beckett points out as an advantage.

Ira Michael Blonder

© Rehmani Consulting, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved