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More on the Differences Between Workflow Options in SharePoint Server 2013 and 2010

The workflow component of SharePoint Server 2013 incorporates some substantial changes from its 2010 predecessor. These changes impact on all three broad types of workflows:

  • List
  • Reusable
  • and Site

the effect of these changes is to render the workflow component much more powerful than was the case for previous versions of SharePoint Server.

In a video tutorial titled ntro to Workflow types, models, stages and app step usage scenarios, Chris Beckett, subject matter expert and published author presents a number of these differences. The video tutorial is part of a set, “SP13-304 SharePoint Designer 2013: Workflow Course”, which can be viewed by any subscriber to SharePoint-Videos.com. The set is also available for purchase for either individual, or unlimited group viewing.

Chris explains workflows for SharePoint Server 2013 can still be used to produce any of the three above mentioned no code processes. But there are some important differences with regards to how reusable workflows in SharePoint Server 2013 function work with content types. Site workflows are much more useful in SharePoint Server 2013 than was the case for 2010 as the result of a new looping capability, which renders long list of items into easily workable data for processing.

The process of publishing reusable workflows to a content type has been substantially changed in SharePoint Server 2013. Now, the publishing option for this type of workflow is restricted to only the “all content” type, which is the “root” content type. In contrast, with SharePoint Server 2010, reusable workflows could be published to specific lists or libraries built around content types.

This restriction, paradoxically, increases the range of content upon which workflows can be run. Now any list or library can provide data for processing with reusable workflows. Chris does observe a downside to this new feature. Any granularity previously available with the SharePoint Server 2010 version of reusable workflows has been removed. So it is no longer possible to specifically apply workflows to unique list or library components (for example, columns) within the universe of lists and libraries availing of the same content types.

A very big change between the workflow component of both platforms is as follows: Chris explains workflows in SharePoint Server 2010 run sequentially. With SharePoint Server 2013, workflows now basically resemble a state machine workflow. This change is particularly useful for complex workflows built with many stages. With workflows in SharePoint Server 2013, transitions (or “logic gates”) can be used to proceed back to earlier stages based on, as Chris notes, “business rules”. In turn the “steps”, which were characteristic of workflows for SharePoint Server 2010 have been replaced by “stages”.

We will report on Chris’ presentation of “App Steps” in the next post to this blog.

Ira Michael Blonder

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