SharePoint Designer 2013 Workflow changes

Already, there are so many articles published about the new features and changes in SharePoint Designer 2013 that it’s a little late to write about this. But I think this would be useful.

There are many new functionalities and enhancements added into SharePoint designer 2013.
Added features allow designers to do more with workflows without requiring a developer to write custom code.

If you select SharePoint 2013 option while creating workflow, you will get the following list of new features

1. Stages

With 2013, concept of stage is introduced. It acts as containers in workflow, which allows one to structure the workflow from one stage to the other. Stages can be added to a workflow by clicking on Stage icon.

Key points for Stages:

  • All actions in the workflow must be contained in a stage
  • A stage can hold one or more workflow actions, and will also have only one Transition to stage area. 
  • The Transition to stage area defines how the workflow exits the stage after its actions have been processed. The stage can be configured to transition to another stage, or to end the workflow.
  • Workflows must have at least one stage, and it is not possible to nest stages in a workflow.
2. Actions

In 2013 new workflow actions are also introduced and they can be used while designing workflow.

Adding this action to a workflow allows a designer to create a single task, assign it to a specific user, and save the Outcome and TaskID values to workflow variables.

3. Assign a Task

Click on "Assign a task" action from actions menu, and the container displayed in above image, will show up.
Now click on thisuser, which will open the following dialogue.

4. Start a Task Process:
This action is the same as “Assign a Task” action, with the difference being that multiple participants can be assigned to the task being created. The participants can be assigned to the task one at a time (serial, meaning the first participant must respond to the task before the next participant is assigned, and so on.), or all participants can be assigned to the task at the same time (parallel).


5. Loops

There are two types of looping available: 

  • Loop n Times: Loop type allows a designer to create a looping condition where the actions contained in the loop container are executed a specified number of times.
  • The Loop with Condition: Loop type allows a designer to create a looping condition where the actions contained in the loop container are executed until a specified condition is met.

Key points for loops:
  1. Loops must be contained within a stage.
  2. A stage can be added inside a loop.
  3. Loops can have only one entry and only one exit point.
  4. Nested loops are also supported.
6. Call HTTP Web Service

This action allows you to call a REST-based web service without writing custom code. You specify the URL to the web service you wish to call, along with the HTTP method (GET, PUT, POST, and DELETE).

7. Visual Designer
In SharePoint Designer 2013 the Visual Designer is also introduced. This designer is only available for workflows on the 2013 platform, and you will need Visio 2013 Professional installed on your PC to have this available in SharePoint Designer.
When creating a workflow, you can switch to the Visual Designer by selecting it from the ribbon:

This will switch the view of the workflow you are designing to a view that looks a lot like a diagram in Visio:
With all these new features in the SharePoint designer, it has now become more powerful and strong enough for developer to not want to go for custom coding!


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