What is a SharePoint Custom Workflow?

June 19, 2013

What is a SharePoint custom workflow? It's a series of steps that SharePoint can follow to execute a business process...think of it like a flowchart. Except in a workflow, we try to automate the human interaction portion of in order to reduce errors. In a simple example, let's say a document needs to be approved. Rather than emailing it to the approver and going back and forth with comments and revisions, a structured workflow process can be used instead. The # of comments and revisions remains the same in this case, but the chances of things falling through the cracks is reduced because the questions of "what's due when" and "who owes who what" is done by precise machine decision-making. The value becomes more apparent as the # of people involved in the approval process goes up. In this case, the workflow can be set up to automate that each person in the chain of approvers is contacted at the right time for their participation.

To state it more rigorously, each unit of work is called an activity and can be done by either the machine or a human. For example, the computer can perform the following kinds of action type of activities: send an email alert, create a list item, delete a list item, and perform various logic flow controls like loop, pause, else-if branch, etc. Regarding action activities, humans are certainly not left out...they have to do the actual approving or rejecting of documents.

A SharePoint custom workflow can be documented for execution in the form of XML files (which can be graphically/visually represented in SharePoint Designer) or code files (C# or VB).

Some terminology we should be aware of are:

- Persistence, hydration, and dehydration: How does the system know where a workflow is currently? This "state" is stored on a medium (disk, memory, or database) and then is later recreated. This processes continues until it's time to terminate the workflow. Persistence refers to the workflow existing throughout time in various states which can be suspended (dehydrated) or alive (hydrated).

- Transaction: Before a workflow can be dehydrated, a certain batch of actions needs to be performed. This batch is called a transaction.

- Scheduling: Timing is the key. An automated scheduler is obviously used by a SharePoint custom workflow.

- Tracking: This is what monitors the flow/execution of the workflow.

- Workflow Templates and Instances: Workflows can be instantiated by associating a template to any content type, document library, or list. You can run the same workflow template against several targets at once and they can all run concurrently in their own instance in memory. One caveat here is that if a specific list or document is required by both instances, at a single point of time only one of these workflows will run in order to avoid resource contention.

Upgrade to SharePoint 2013

June 30, 2013

Considering an upgrade to SharePoint 2013? SharePoint 2013 features the following improvements:

1) Easier development of workflows.

2) A great new, less complicated application version, referred to as Cloud Application Model, makes it possible for a lot more customization of SP Online and certainly a lot simpler customization of SP 2013 on-premises programs.

3) Content Management - features for controlling content retention have already been extended to handle content material across sources (for instance Exchange mailboxes as well as Lync) without demanding copying of content material.

4) Social Features - features social networking functionality comes built-in straight from Microsoft's just recently obtained Yammer technology, aggregated outside feeds such as from Facebook in addition to LinkedIn.

5) Enhancements to security with support for OAuth, standards compliant Data Exchange along with support for OData, support for Windows Workflow Foundation 4.5, eDiscovery features for helping in integrated case management, support with regards to viewing in a number of mobile phones, enhanced web content administration, Search, ECM as well as Social computing. The brand new application model offers architects and certainly developers whole lot more design alternatives.

Considering SharePoint as Intranet? SharePoint 2013 templates come out of the box. At SharePoint Implemented, we have introduced 5 new ones: Intranet Template, Department Template, Project Template, Form Center, Dashboard Center. To read more, click here. We also offer the same for SharePoint 2010...read more here. If you'd like to see our working example/demo of a SharePoint 2013 intranet, click here.

What SharePoint Software Is: The majority of our readers possess a pretty clear understanding of precisely what it is. Having said that, most people misperceive its primary functions. And Microsoft's product internet websites, along with their wide-ranging ambitions, aren't always clear enough for new-comers. Therefore we often leave articles scratching our heads asking the questions: what exactly is SharePoint, why would you want to use SharePoint as intranet, and is it worth it to upgrade to SharePoint 2013?

When you upgrade to SharePoint 2013, the first thing you might notice is the enhanced tasks list.

Microsoft has launched a variety of generations of SharePoint. The playing field now contains SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013, and SharePoint Office 365. There are 6 different primary functional areas, and that each of these core concepts have evolved from the 2007 version: Collaboration, Search, Portal, Content management, Business forms, and Business intelligence.

This release of the product came with the very first forays in both the web content management and certainly connectivity along with back-end business structures. Having said that, for almost all of users, SharePoint 2007 appeared to be actually utilized as a glorified file sharing provider, with a little bit of collaboration added on.

SharePoint 2013 strives to change all of this with a plethora of available SharePoint 2013 templates - to actually move in the direction of Microsoft's dream of SharePoint as an enterprise platform for a lot of diverse information purposes and information personnel uses. Now you can finally have a SharePoint 2013 intranet that shines.

This release gives a range of enhancements over the 2007 & 2010 products, such as user interface upgrades, better social capabilities, deeper business intelligence, superior records in addition to document administration and better integration along with various other systems.

Regardless, to comprehend what SharePoint is really, you have to understand the extremely ambitious plan Microsoft has got when it comes to the product. It is this: To become the only point for all important information collection, search as well as collaboration within your business entities. SharePoint 2013 templates give you the freedom to explore various business functions without having to code anything. And having a prebuilt SharePoint 2013 intranet is a good way to go....here's an example you can download.

We hope this answers the question, is SharePoint an intranet a good choice?

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