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I was recently presented with the task of redesigning a SharePoint system, in which a library has grown too big and should be split into separate libraries. I am attempting to devise a way to create all the workflows (both 2013 and 2010) as Reusable workflows and use them in the separate lists (which are created from a template created on the main "big list").

My main test case scenario is a main 2013 list workflow calling several 2010 list workflows.

Reusable workflows seem to require to be assigned to a specific content type, else no columns are loaded within the workflow's configuration. My main 2013 list workflow is not assigned to a content type, but rather uses all columns and content types made available within the list. This does not seem to be possible in 2013 reusable workflows.

I took these steps to test:

  1. Created a 2013 reusable workflow (to replace my 2013 main list workflow) and immediately based it on a general content type within the Designer. When I tried to do it on 'All' no columns were loaded within SharePoint Designer's workflow configuration; so I was forced to choose a content type.
  2. Edited the workflow and published
  3. Associated to the new list created from template
  4. In the association settings I chose This list in place of a specific content type (based on the fact that the workflow is meant to run on all content types rather than the general content type chosen in one: I know this might be considered a bit illogical but it was an option and I thought I'd try it)
  5. I created a 2010 reusable workflow and assigned it to the content type on which it essentially needs to run. In this case, the 2010 workflow is supposed to run on that content type so it does not really matter.
  6. Whenever I needed to update the Reusable 2013 workflow, I needed to go into the 'Workflow Settings' of the associated list, click on the updated workflow and resave (stupid to say the least).
  7. Managed some tests successfully. At a certain point, I noticed that in the workflow configuration section of SharePoint Designer, the available columns of my "general content type" are suddenly not showing: again.

Now this would have been obvious had I not been able to create the workflow actions, run it successfully a few times, etc, etc. I would have thought, first creating the 2013 reusable workflow assigned to a content type in SharePoint Designer and then choosing 'This List' when associating the workflow to a list instead of choosing the same content type, just does not work. But to have it in working order for 2 hours or so, and then just suddenly stop, is something I cannot understand. Any idea why?

My decision described in 4) does not essentially solve my problem, as it only loads about half of the required columns for the 2013 main workflow to be completed.

2 questions:

  • What if I also associate to the same content type? Could the reusable workflow still be started from items of different content types within the list?

  • If the answer to the previous question is yes, would it make sense, if I add a new content type, separate to what is already being used in the system and add all the required columns to it. Then create and a reusable workflow assigned to that content type, and also associate it to the same content type? My concern is that this content type would simply be used to associate with and have the required columns available within the Designer, but the workflow would never actually be started on an item of that content type.

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