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On my laptop, connect to the SharePoint 2010 server which is across the internet, no VPN. I can edit workflows, save them, but not publish.

I did have to edit reg keys per this article to get the designer to work:

Any ideas?

Edit: Looks like the issue is that I need to log in from the server itself, and use the machine name in the URL, not the external machine name. So we have a general issue in that outside people access the machine as, while any admin functionality must be done using http://localname/

I suspect that this server is not really set up correctly, or needs to be aware that it has two names.

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