In SP2010, I have a list workflow that was built in Designer only - no code. I need to make a small change and must understand what happens to workflows in progress when I do this. I'm not changing the steps or logical flow, I'm just altering some HTML that is written to an e-mail body. It's fine if the workflows already in progress don't see the change, since the e-mail in question will have already been sent for those. I just want new workflows to see the change as they start up.

Is this how it works - two versions of the workflow running at the same time, automatically managed correctly? or am I going to break the active workflows by making a change?

1 Answer 1



Yes. Two versions of the workflow can run at the same time and is automatically managed by SharePoint. You are NOT going to break the active workflows by making a change.

I just created a simple approval workflow using SPD 2010 on a SharePoint 2010 list. While the first version was running on a list item I modified the workflow, published it and ran it on another list item.

some observations:

  • A new version is created when a workflow is modified
  • Whenever a workflow is started, SharePoint picks up the latest modified version of the workflow
  • Both the previous and current workflow versions can run at the same time

Screenshot with the previous version of workflow running. Previous version of workflow "In Progress" i.e., still running

Screenshot displaying the current modified version of the workflow running. Modified/current version of workflow also running "In progress"

  • Ken, having read your referenced article a few times, I can't believe it means what it seems to say. Surely it's possible to fix a bug in workflow! Perhaps it means that the workflow cannot modify itself while running. This particular workflow was created in Designer 2007 (we recently upgraded to SP2010) and the developer did modify it several times to get it right. Strictly speaking, he wasn't modifying the running workflow but deploying a new revision.
    – WalterB
    Dec 7, 2011 at 17:15
  • Maybe. So back to the original question: can I publish a new version of the workflow and have the original continue to run in parallel until all of its instances have completed?
    – WalterB
    Dec 12, 2011 at 15:21
  • Readers, ignore my extraneous comments after Ken's excellent answer. He is quite correct and I appreciate his help.
    – wbco
    Mar 15, 2012 at 17:41

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