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I have to create some custom workflows on an office 365 SharePoint environment. What are the options I have apart from SharePoint Designer. I used to do this using visual studio some time ago but I dont think it is supported anymore. Plus if I am using SharePoint Designer do I have to create it on the production environment (office 365 environment) at once or can I first do it in a staging environment and then publish it to office 365 later on?

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Office 365 has got no testing environment, you can only create a separate site collection and every workflow you test there will not affect any other site collection.

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I do not know about Visual Studio. But you can create and test your workflows with SharePoint Designer in a development environment (even an on-prem), export the workflow from SharePoint designer and then use PowerShell to deploy the workflow to staging and production.

This requires a little bit of work:

  1. To extract the workflow from development export it to a WSP, rename it to *.cab and grab the *.xaml files, which are the workflow definitions
  2. Deploy the workflow definition and subscription using PowerShell (I have created a PowerShell commandlet for both steps - see here)

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