I'll begin with the background of what I'm trying to accomplish. The system has a working workflow already, what I want to do is edit the workflow to meet some new requirements - so far I have only made a simple change to some text output to test.

I made the change through SharePoint Designer and then followed the instructions in the link below;


It worked as expected up until the activation of the feature. I have went through the usual steps clearing the cache etc but no matter what I can't seem to get past the error.

The workflow was exported from SP Designer as a WSP and uploaded to SharePoint.

Does anyone know of a way of forcing the activation of the feature?

Alternatively, advice on editing existing workflows would be appreciated

EDIT 13/08/15: Having followed Susan's advice I looked further into why the workflow wasn't updating via the publishing feature. I changed the site in designer to the actual sub site and made the changes there. This worked!

I thought that making the changes at the top level would automatically update all of the sites but this was not the case.

  • what do You mean by existing workflow? the standard SP ones (feedback approval etc) or one created by someone else. To simply edit it, you should open the site in SPD and go to the category workflow and see if that workflow is there. Then Edit from there.
    – susan
    Aug 12, 2015 at 10:35
  • It was a workflow created by someone else. I opened the existing workflow in Designer and made a change (saving and publishing) but the change didn't take - I assumed the workflow would need to be re uploaded?
    – Keiron
    Aug 12, 2015 at 10:38
  • no,, it depends what was your modification (maybe the wf does not find the data or needs a pause from one action to another). the editing process was correct
    – susan
    Aug 12, 2015 at 11:30
  • @susan thanks for the help at least it narrows down my issue. I just tried another change after repeating the process (edit save publish) - this test also failed. The change this time was updating an email that gets sent (it did) - the contents however remained unchanged.
    – Keiron
    Aug 12, 2015 at 12:16
  • is the 'content' pure text or it is content composed by taking bits and pieces from the list or the variables? I have edited tons of emails in workflows and if you change text, it changes it immediately (even formatting). My mistakes are usually putting in informations from the item, list or variables.
    – susan
    Aug 12, 2015 at 13:34

1 Answer 1


As per the edit in the OP. SharePoint Designer was making the changes but only to the specific site I was making the changes on.

The steps to creating the workflow I followed;

  1. Create a 2013 Workflow in SP Designer 2013
  2. Check for Errors, Save and Publish the workflow using the ribbon
  3. Go to the specific site and run the workflow

As for how I distributed the workflow to all sites please consult;

Powershell - Publish Designer workflow on all sites

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