I have installed SharePoint 2016 on a local development server and using Visual Studio 2017, I've created a new SharePoint 2016 - Empty Project adding in a new Workflow item to the solution.

When I attempt to deploy the workflow, the solution gets deployed to SharePoint, two features get installed (the workflow, and the lists as two separate features). The Lists feature is correctly activated and the Workflow History list and Workflow Task list appear inside my SharePoint site. However, the feature that contains my workflow doesn't activate and cannot be activated manually.

During the deployment Visual Studio displays the following error:

Error occurred in deployment step 'Activate Features': System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object. at Microsoft.SharePoint.WorkflowServices.WorkflowSubscriptionStorageEventReceiver.ItemUpdating(SPItemEventProperties properties)

If more information is required, please let me know.

Thanks for any help you can provide.


1 Answer 1


You should first configure the Workflow Manager to be able to develop a workflow in SharePoint 2016/2013 via Visual Studio,

  1. If the Workflow Manager is not configured, try to configure it by following the details steps at How to Install and Configure Workflow Manager for SharePoint

  2. If the Workflow Manageralready configured, So make sure that the Workflow Manager is registered successfully by going to

    • Open Central Administration > Application Management > Application Services > Click on Workflow Service Application Proxy.

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  • If the workflow service status is not connected, so try to register the Register-SPWorkflowService as the following

    Register-SPWorkflowService -SPSite 'https://myhost/mysite' -WorkflowHostUri 'http://workflowhost:12291'

For more details check Register-SPWorkflowService cmdlet

  • Thanks for the link, I've followed that and everything worked. Only point for future visitors, the link is a little out of date for the Workflow Manager, there is now Workflow Manager 1.0 Refresh (CU2) that needs to be installed instead. Nov 6, 2017 at 9:34

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