SharePoint 2007 and 2010 Workflows
Recently while working in my office, I overheard two of my colleagues talking about the process that one needs to adopt while doing any work. One of the colleagues mentioned that following a process gives a flow to your work which will make it easier for everyone to understand the method and the final outcome of the work easily. Listening to his words, I thought how true was his statement! What do you think guys? Yes, for a disciplined and hassle-free work, a flow or a process is a must for any work. And with new innovations such as SharePoint Workflow this task can be done efficiently.
In the context of Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies, workflow is defined more narrowly as the automated movement of documents or items through a sequence of actions or tasks that are related to a business process. Workflows help people to collaborate on documents and manage project tasks by implementing business processes on documents and items in a Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 site. Workflows help organizations to adhere to consistent business processes, and also improve organizational efficiency and productivity by managing the tasks and steps involved in business processes. This enables the people who perform these tasks to concentrate on performing the work rather than managing the workflow. Now isn’t that exactly what we are seeking so much for our day-to-day work?
Windows Workflow Foundation supports two fundamental workflow styles:
* Sequential workflows: Represents a workflow as a procession of steps that execute in order until the last activity completes. However, sequential workflows are not purely sequential in their execution. Because they can receive external events and include parallel logic flows, the exact order of activity execution can vary.
* State machine workflows: Represents a set of states, transitions, and actions. One state is denoted as the start state, and then, based on an event, a transition can be made to another state. The state machine can have a final state that determines the end of the workflow.
An Office SharePoint Server 2007 site includes several workflows that address common business scenarios:
o Approval: This workflow routes a document or item to a group of people for approval. By default, the Approval workflow is associated with the Document content type, and thus it is automatically available in document libraries.
o Collect Feedback: This workflow routes a document or item to a group of people for feedback. Reviewers can provide feedback, which is then compiled and sent to the person who initiated the workflow. By default, the Collect Feedback workflow is associated with the Document content type, and thus it is automatically available in document libraries.
o Collect Signatures: This workflow routes a Microsoft Office document to a group of people to collect their digital signatures. This workflow must be started in a client program that is part of the 2007 Office release. Participants must complete their signature tasks by adding their digital signature to the document in the relevant Microsoft Office program. By default, the Collect Signatures workflow is associated with the Document content type, and thus it is automatically available in document libraries. However, the Collect Signatures workflow appears for a document in the document library only if that document contains one or more Microsoft Office Signature Lines.
o Disposition Approval: This workflow, which supports records management processes, manages document expiration and retention by allowing participants to decide whether to retain or delete expired documents. The Disposition Approval workflow is intended for use primarily within a Records Center site.
o Three-state: This workflow can be used to manage business processes that require organizations to track a high volume of issues or items, such as customer support issues, sales leads, or project tasks.
o Group Approval: This workflow is similar to the Approval workflow, but it uses a designated document library and offers a personalized view of the approval processes in which a user is participating. This workflow provides a hierarchical organization chart from which to select the approvers and allows the approvers to use a stamp control instead of a signature. This solution is available only for East Asian versions of Office SharePoint Server 2007.
o Translation Management: This workflow manages the manual document translation process by creating copies of the document to be translated and assigning translation tasks to translators. This workflow is available only for Translation Management libraries.
SharePoint 2010 Workflows
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 builds on and extends the workflow development framework in Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010. Workflow developers have access to the entire range of workflow development options in SharePoint Foundation 2010, as well as using Microsoft InfoPath 2010 to create forms that can be hosted inside of Microsoft Office 2010 system client applications—such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel—as well as on the server.
In SharePoint 2010, workflows can be created using the following two developer applications:
o For workflows that include custom code and employ forms, use Visual Studio 2010 Workflow Designer. If you use Visual Studio, you can also use forms technologies, such as Microsoft ASP.NET, to create forms that can interact with and gather information from users.
o For declarative, rules-based workflows that contain no code, and that are developed against a specific SharePoint site, use Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010.
In addition, SharePoint Server 2010 enables developers to use InfoPath 2010 to create forms that can be hosted both within Microsoft Office system client applications, and on the server. InfoPath 2010 gives you the ability to create symmetrical forms—forms that look and operate exactly the same way whether they are displayed in the SharePoint Server 2010 Web interface, or within a Microsoft Office system client application, such as Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.
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