Over the past few years I have been developing custom workflow actions - for use in SharePoint Designer workflows - for SharePoint 2007, 2010 and 2013 (on-premise). See this example for the kind of workflow action I am talking about.

I occasionally get questions from people who want to use similar actions in SharePoint (2013) online. I am aware that in the 2010 version of SharePoint online there was the possibility to (painfully) create sandboxed workflow actions, but that no longer appears to be an option in the SharePoint 2013 version.

I fear that the answer is 'it is not possible', but is there any way to create and deploy a custom workflow action to SharePoint online for use in SharePoint Designer workflows? I cannot find any documentation on the topic.

Update 1: Apologies for not making this clear, but I need it to work with SharePoint 2013 workflows (not workflows in SharePoint 2010 mode) and deploy it as an App to SharePoint online (so no sandboxed solutions)

Update 2: I have opened a support case with Microsoft (113072910624379) and it is official, SharePoint Designer Workflow Actions cannot be deployed as part of an App. A sandboxed solution using declarative Workflow Actions is the only way to do this.


1 Answer 1


I believe when you said this was possible in SharePoint 2010, you were referring to this link: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff798499.aspx

I have got this working with SharePoint 2013 too. Here is the sample project: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/21118137/SPWork.zip

I have tested this in Office365 too and it works.

There is one caveat however that the Action only shows up in SharePoint Designer if you select the Platform type of the Workflow as "SharePoint 2010 Workflow" and not "SharePoint 2013 Workflow"

The Workflow architecture has been redesigned in SharePoint 2013 and there are now two models supported. Workflows with "SharePoint 2010" as the platform run in SharePoint itself while Workflows with "SharePoint 2013" platform work in a separate Workflow Farm. I believe Microsoft has introduced limitations on Sandbox Workflow Actions being used in the SharePoint 2013 Workflow Platform.

This will give you more idea on the Workflow changes: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj219638.aspx


If you want to work with the SharePoint 2013 Workflow platform, deploying actions via no-code declarative solutions is your only option.

So to summarize,

1) Custom Workflow Actions with code will work in SharePoint 2013, but only if you select the Workflow Platform as "SharePoint 2010" and use a Sandbox solution to deploy them instead of an App.

2) For the SharePoint 2013 workflow platform, no-code declarative solutions are your only option. There is a HTTPSend action available which can be used to hook Web Services which can be used to process custom logic.

Hope this helps.

  • Glad to see the bounty is working :-) Unfortunately I need to be able to deploy this as an App, not a sandboxed solution. It also needs to run in a SharePoint 2013 workflow (not in 2010 mode). Using a sandboxed solution I am able to deploy a SharePoint 2013 compatible workflow action, but so far this only works for declarative actions (no code), and doesn't work for Apps). I have been over all relevant documentation on the Microsoft site and it is overall pretty light on details. In the worst case I would settle for SB based solutions, but only if it works in SP2013 workflows with custom code. Jul 31, 2013 at 15:29
  • I have accepted this as the answer, so you get your bounty, even though it is not an exact answer to the question :-). I still have a case open with Microsoft Support, but it looks like the only way to create Custom SharePoint Designer Workflow activities for deployment on SharePoint on-line is to create a sandboxed solution and create a no-code, declarative, workflow action. This works fine with the 2013 native workflow engine. (When I say 'fine', I mean 'it is buggy as hell and caches all over the place :-). It is not possible to use an App. Perhaps you can slightly reword to reflect this. Aug 7, 2013 at 9:41
  • Updated the answer. Thanks for the additional info. Aug 7, 2013 at 18:14
  • The Dropbox solution is no longer available. Ok, so it seems you can't use the Workflow Custom Activity "Add New Item" option at all. You have to manually create the feature as per your first link. I'll give it a try.
    – PeterX
    Aug 25, 2014 at 3:18
  • The dropbox solution download works for me. Aug 28, 2014 at 17:08

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