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Create Reusable Workflows with SharePoint Designer 2010

As noted in a presentation, Promoting Software Reuse in a Corporate Setting, Pedro Esteves Pinto then of the Computer Sciences Department at Carnegie Mellon University notes that (as of the date in 1998 of his article) ” . . . despite advances in reuse enabling technologies, systematic reuse is still uncommon.” In our opinion the same condition largely exists today, despite the obvious benefits of developing reusable software, including ” . . . increases in productivity and quality . . . ” as well as ” . . . other, less direct, benefits. These include reduced training and maintenance costs” (both quotes from Mr. Pinto’s presentation).

Fortunately, with SharePoint Server 2010 and SharePoint Designer it is readily possible to create reusable workflows. In fact, as Asif Rehmani notes in a video tutorial, “Create Reusable Workflows Using SharePoint Designer 2010 and Attach to Content Types”, “being able to create reusable workflows is a major component of SharePoint Designer 2010″.

This training topic is included in our SharePoint Designer 2010 Fundamentals Training DVD, which can be purchased for either individual or enterprise use. Our intended audience are SharePoint Administrators or Site Collection Administrators. In the presentation, Asif Rehmani demonstrates how to create a reusable workflow for a content type that is directly associated with a site column that can represent any one of 3 metadata (“IT”, “Sales” or “Marketing”), depending upon a choice which will be made by a user.

As we wrote earlier in this blog with regard to BCS and Document sets, both of these features of SharePoint Server 2010, meaning content types and site columns, are specifically designed to facilitate consistency across SharePoint sites. The method of ensuring consistency, is to offer a content type, globally, for inclusion in any SharePoint site. This content type, which can be associated, as in our example, with a site column, will have the same metadata and terms across an organization. Therefore SharePoint search will take on a higher relevance and, thereby, deliver much higher value.

Once our example site column, “Dept”, has been created, we demonstrate how it is then possible, from a browser, to associate specific templates (forms) with the content type that has just been added. Asif Rehmani demonstrates how a reusable workflow can be created with SharePoint Designer 2010 that can either be associated, at the discretion of an administrator, with any content type or with a specific content type. Once the workflow has been associated with a content type or types, the scope of the workflow has been established. When one understands the implications of the term scope, in this context (meaning with reference to a reusable workflow), then one can readily understand how content types and site columns are fundamental to these reusable workflows.

If your organization would like to realign software development along a less expensive, inherently more efficient method, we would like to hear from you. Please contact us at (630) 786-7026, or Contact Us to further a discussion about our video training content.

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