SUGUK Nottingham - Extending SPD workflow using custom activities
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SUGUK Nottingham - Extending SPD workflow using custom activities

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Slides from my presentation at SUGUK Nottingham on 23/3/2011.

Slides from my presentation at SUGUK Nottingham on 23/3/2011.

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  • 1. Extending SharePoint Designer Workflow using Custom Activities
    “You don’t always need full blown Visual Studio Workflow…”
  • 2. About Me
    SharePoint Consultant at Intelligent Decisioning
    Gadget fanatic and keen Motorcyclist
    3-4 Years experience with SharePoint since 2007/WSS 3.0
    MCITP/MCTS SharePoint 2010/2007
  • 3. Contact
    Blog –
    Twitter - @sharepointalex
    Email –
  • 4. Workflow in SharePoint – The Choices
    OOTB –
    Three State
    Collect Feedback
    SharePoint Designer
    Declarative (XML Based)
    Visual Studio (Windows Workflow Foundation)
    WWF (Code Based)
  • 5. Workflow in SharePoint – The Problems
    OOTB –
    Too restrictive
    Doesn’t always align to business process
    Visual Studio
    Requires lots of development time/effort
    Can be complicated
    Not easy to modify when business process changes
    SharePoint Designer
    Fits the bill most of the time
    Limited set of Actions/Activities
    Business process often requires a more complex workflow
  • 6. Setting the Scene
    Simple Absence system built in SharePoint
    Three SharePoint lists
    SPD workflow
    Employee raises absence request – Team lead to approve.
    ‘Holiday Taken’ updated in Quota list when absence request approved.
  • 7. Demo
    Absence System built in SharePoint
  • 8. The Requirement
    The Employee is a Resource on a project within Project Server.
    We need to be able to add an exception to the Resource indicating they are on Holiday.
    How can we do this?....
  • 9. Workflow in SharePoint – The Solution
    Use SharePoint Designer Workflow and extend using Custom Activities!
  • 10. What is a Custom Activity?
    WWF Activity that bolts on to SharePoint Designer
    Activity Code
    XML .Actions File
    .Actions file describes the activity and its parameters
    Deployed to 14TEMPLATE1033Workflow
    Deploy as a Web Application Feature
  • 11. Why use a Custom Activity?
    Requires less development time than full blown VS workflow
    The whole workflow doesn’t need to change if the business process changes
    Configurable by a power user from SPD design surface
    Bridges the gap between SPD workflow and Visual Studio
  • 12. What can you do in a Custom Activity?
    Anything that you can do in code!!
  • 13. Examples of Custom Activities
    Update Active Directory
    Interact with External Systems
    Interact with SharePoint (using Object Model)
  • 14. Demo
    Creating and Deploying a Custom Activity
  • 15. Summary
    Decide on the Parameters you require & direction
    Define Dependency Properties
    Write Activity Code
    Create .Actions File
    RuleDesigner Sentence
    Deploy using WSP & Feature Receiver
  • 16. Troubleshooting/Common Problems
    “Activity doesn’t appear in design surface when I drag and drop”
    Check there is a SafeControl entry in the web.config for the activity namespace/class
    Verify that the activity is marked as an AuthorizedType in the web.config
    “Activity doesn’t show in SPD”
    Check syntax of .Actions file
    Ensure Web App Feature is activated
    “Setting output parameters in the designer doesn’t work as expected – shows String Builder”
    Ensure you have set the ‘DesignerType’ attribute to ‘ParameterNames’
  • 17. Resources
    SharePoint 2010 SDK
    SharePoint Developer Documentation Team Blog Post -
    WorkflowInfo and WorkflowActions Schema –
    Free Workflow Actions on Codeplex
  • 18. Questions?