SharePoint 2013: What’s New In Workflows?

As SharePoint Consultants, we are all about efficiency.  SharePoint 2013 has made some substantial improvements from 2010 that have revamped its performance, particularly when it comes to Workflows.  What was once complex and inconvenient is now more refined and user friendly with the newly enhanced features. We’ve included two parts so that you too can share our excitement: first, a step by step guide on how to install and configure Workflow Manager, as well as how to access work using Workflow so you can test to see if Workflows are running correctly.

So what’s new in SharePoint 2013?

SharePoint 2013 Workflow is using a new Workflow Manager, which will be a vital service in an enterprise to accommodate business processes more efficiently.  SharePoint 2013 embraces innovative functionality and features specifically for Workflow such as fully declarative authoring, REST and Service Bus messaging, elastic scalability, and managed service reliability.

New features of the SharePoint 2013 Workflow platform in SharePoint Designer include:

  • Workflow development that uses a Visio 2013 add-in
  • No-code web service calls from within a workflow
  • More actions for creating a task and starting a task process
  • Coordination actions that let you start a Workflow built on the SharePoint 2010 Workflow platform from a workflow built on the SharePoint 2013 Workflow platform
  • New Dictionary type
  • Workflow building blocks such as Stage, Loop, and App Step

Part 1 – Install and configure Workflow Manager

Download Web Platform Installer 4.6

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  1.  Click install.

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2.  Click “I accept”.

3.  Click “Continue”.

4.  Click “Finish” and wait for the installation to complete.

5.  Launch the Workflow configuration wizard.

6.  Click “Configure Workflow Manager with Default Settings”. This is the recommended option.

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7.  In the next screen, add the SQL server and click Test Connection. Database names will be set to default names for the Workflow, instance and resource management databases. Clicking on the Test Connection will ensure that the database names are not already in use. For the custom database names, Click “Configure Workflow Manager with Custom Settings”.

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8.  Because this is development environment, check the “Allow Workflow management over HTTP on this computer”.

Note: According to TechNet, it is not recommended to allow workflow management over HTTP in a production environment.

9.  Click the forward arrow to move to the next screen.

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10.  Go through the summary and make sure you selected what was required and Click the check mark to install Workflow Manager 1.0.

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11.  Click the check mark to finish the installation.

12.  Next we need to register the Workflow for the site.

13.  Open “SharePoint Management Shell” as “administrator”, and run the following commands:

Register-SPWorkflowService –SPSite http://intranet.usilabs.com –WorkflowHostUri 
http://sp-usi-labs:12291 -AllowOauthHttp

14.  After the command runs successfully, you will be ready to develop SharePoint 2013 Workflows.

Part Two- Create SharePoint Designer Workflow To Access Workflow & Verify Process

  1. Open “SharePoint Designer 2013”.
  2. Click “Open Site”.
  3. For site name, type http://intranet.(yoururl).com
  4. Click “Open”.
  5. Click “Open” again.
  6. In the ribbon, click “Workflows”.
  7. In the ribbon, click “Site Workflow”, you should see the “SharePoint 2013 Workflow” option:

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Important Notes: The SharePoint 2013 Workflow platform is only available to you, so you’ll need to download and install the new Workflow Manager Service and configure it to communicate with your SharePoint Server 2013 farm, as detailed in the first section.

One of the nice touches is that SharePoint Server 2010 Workflow will continue to work in SharePoint Server 2013. With SharePoint Server 2010, the Workflow engine installed automatically with the installation of product – this continues to be the same in SharePoint Server 2013. If you decide to install SharePoint Server 2013 and do not install and configure Workflow, then you’ll  have a similar experience building Workflows that SharePoint Server 2010 provided.

We want to know, what are your thoughts on SharePoint 2013’s Workflows?  Love them or hate them, let us know in the comments section below.

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