How do you Design Workflow by using SharePoint Designer?

Workflows can be extremely handy repeatable Sharepoint Designer routines that are triggered by certain conditions or that simply run automatically at a specified time of day. The beauty of using Designer to create your workflows is that you don't really need any formal training as a developer, because Designer is so easy to use.

Even if you don't have expertise in-house and don't have the time to learn Sharepoint Designer, there are companies like Ameex Technologies who offer expert consulting, training, and development work using the software.

Workflow by the Numbers

Some of the most useful workflows you'll create in Designer are those associated with libraries and lists, and you'll notice that many of the canned Actions included in Workflow pertain to those two item types.

When you create a list workflow in Designer, it is associated with an existing list or a new list that you've created, and that association allows the workflow to have access to all the metadata of the item that the workflow is run against. Here's how to go about creating a simple workflow to run against a list.

Create a New List

Open the Site collection to create the list and click on the Settings menu and selecting Add an App. From the template choices, choose Custom List and name your list Flowers Demo, then press the Create button to actually generate the new list.

In your Flowers Demo list, click the Create Column link on the List tab toolbar. In the Column Name field, enter Varieties and for the data type option choose Choice. On separate lines in the Additional Column Settings area, type in Roses, Tulips, Sunflowers, and Lilacs. Click OK to create the column in your list, then on the List tab toolbar, click the Create Column link again and enter Workflow Output as the column name, and click OK to create the column.

Create a New Workflow

Open the team site in Sharepoint Designer, and on the Site tab toolbar, click on List Workflow, then from the drop-down list, select Flowers Demo. In the Name field of the dialog box for Create List Workflow, type in Flowers Demo Workflow, and click OK.
 
Now that you have a workflow created, you need to add some actions to it. In the Workflow tab toolbar, click on Actions and select the Log to History List from the drop-down display.  

Click the 'this message' link and type "Created by Workflow" inside the text box field. Then click on the orange bar below the Log to History List action and type 'Set Field' in the text box. Press the Enter key so that Sharepoint Designer will insert the Set Field in Current Item action.

Click on the 'field' link inside the Set Field in Current Item action and choose Workflow Output from the drop-down display. Now click the 'value' link inside the Set Field in Current Item action and type in "The value of this field was set by the Flowers Demo Workflow".  

Click on the Publish button in the Workflows tab toolbar to publish your new workflow to your Sharepoint site - your new Workflow is ready to use! 

This of course was a very simple workflow to illustrate the process, but workflows can automate some very complex tasks as well, and if you should need help in constructing more complicated workflows - contact the Sharepoint Designer pros at Ameex Technologies to have it done quickly and correctly.

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