Part 1: Getting Familiarized with the Visio and SharePoint Designer story for building SharePoint 2013 Workflows
Designing SharePoint 2013 workflows with Microsoft Visio 2013 Professional provides a powerful way for business users to visually define and map their business processes in order to automate them using SharePoint workflows.
While following the general process of creating a SharePoint 2013 workflow, this series will start with an overview of the workflow design tools available in Visio 2013, move on to data-binding the workflow with SharePoint Designer 2013, and conclude with publishing the workflow to a SharePoint 2013 site.
What’s new in Visio 2013 and SharePoint Designer 2013 for SharePoint workflows?
New visual workflow technology has actually been added to both SharePoint Designer 2013 and Visio Professional 2013. Each application is meant to be used by a particular type of user and for a different purpose.
Visio is geared towards the less technical business analyst and is used to map out the process via drag and drop objects and collaboration tools. SharePoint Designer is meant to be used by designers or power users and is used to import the Visio-generated vsdx file in order to data bind the workflow objects and publish the workflow to SharePoint 2013.
Visio 2013 includes a new SharePoint 2013 Workflow template complete with new actions, conditions, and containers which align with the underlying Workflow Foundation 4 technology used by SharePoint 2013 workflow as well as other functionality additions. The concepts of workflow stages and looping have been added along with an assortment of new actions.
Along with these new drag and drop objects, Visio 2013 now allows co-authoring between multiple people simultaneously when the diagram is uploaded to SharePoint 2013. To round out these great new features, users can now utilize threaded comments that are targeted at specific shapes in the diagram to discuss changes and additions to the process diagram. Gone are the days of emailing and confusing multiple versions of a diagram or sitting in a day-long process mapping meetings (hopefully).
SharePoint 2013 Workflow Shapes in Visio 2013:
SharePoint Designer 2013 offers a new ActiveX control which displays the same graphical view of the diagram inside of the application that you would see if you opened the file in Visio. This new control allows the user to edit the properties of each shape, assign logic, and bind the workflow data to SharePoint data. Once the workflow logic has been implemented, it is published directly to SharePoint 2013 with a button click.
What are the pre-requisites for visually designing and publishing SharePoint 2013 workflows?
In order to visually map, bind, and publish SharePoint 2013 workflows, there are a few pre-requisites technologies which need to be in place.
- Visio Professional 2013 Installed and Activated on the PC (Visio 2013 Pro Trial download)
- SharePoint Designer 2013 Installed on the PC (SharePoint Designer 2013 Download)
- Workflow Manager 1.0 Farm Configured and Connected to the SharePoint 2013 Farm
Now that we have discussed some of the improvements in the tools and the software pre-requisites, we will continue this series by building a simple workflow and showcasing some of this excellent technology. Stay tuned!