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Walkthrough: Import a SharePoint Designer Reusable Workflow into Visual Studio

This walkthrough demonstrates how to import a reusable workflow created in SharePoint Designer 2010 into a Visual Studio SharePoint workflow project.

Workflows created in SharePoint Designer, or declarative workflows, consist of XML statements instead of code. SharePoint Designer 2010 introduces reusable workflows, which are portable, declarative workflows that can be used by different lists in SharePoint sites.

Workflows created in Visual Studio 2012, such as sequential and state machine workflows, are called code workflows. Code workflows consist of XML files and code modules in which users can customize the workflow's behavior.

Visual Studio allows you to import reusable workflows created in SharePoint Designer 2010 and convert them to code workflows for use in your SharePoint sites.

This walkthrough demonstrates the following tasks:

  • Creating a simple, reusable workflow in SharePoint Designer.

  • Exporting the SharePoint Designer reusable workflow to a .wsp file and into SharePoint.

  • Importing the .wsp file into Visual Studio by using the Import Reusable Workflow project.

  • Altering the workflow by adding code.

  • Using the imported workflow in a SharePoint site.

NoteNote

Your computer might show different names or locations for some of the Visual Studio user interface elements in the following instructions. The Visual Studio edition that you have and the settings that you use determine these elements. For more information, see Customizing Development Settings.

You need the following components to complete this walkthrough:

First you create two new SharePoint subsites: one to host the reusable workflows from SharePoint Designer, another to host the converted workflows.

To create SharePoint subsites

  1. In SharePoint Designer 2010, on the menu bar, choose File, New Blank Web Site.

  2. In the New Blank Web Site dialog box, browse to a SharePoint site where you want to create the workflow, or use the value of http://SystemName/ and then choose the OK button.

    The Home page appears.

  3. In the Subsites section, choose the New button.

  4. In the New dialog box, choose SharePoint Templates from the list in the left pane, and choose Team Site from the list in the right pane.

  5. In the Specify the location of the Web site box, replace the word subsite in the URL with SPD1, and then choose the OK button.

    This opens the new subsite into SharePoint Designer. Close this instance of SharePoint Designer and go back to the first instance (the top-level site).

  6. Repeat steps 3 - 5 to create the second subsite, this time replacing the word subsite in the URL with SPD2.

Because SharePoint does not include any reusable workflows that you can use for this example, you will create one. In this simple workflow, when a user enters a new task in the Task list that has a specific title, the task is assigned to that user.

To create a SharePoint Designer reusable workflow

  1. In the Subsites section, choose the SPD1 site to modify it.

  2. On the ribbon, choose the Reusable Workflow button.

    The Create Reusable Workflow wizard appears.

  3. In the Name box, enter SPD Task Workflow.

  4. In the Content Type list, choose Task, and then choose the OK button.

    The workflow opens in the SharePoint Designer workflow designer.

  5. In the workflow designer, choose Step 1, and then, on the ribbon, choose the Condition button.

  6. In the list of conditions, choose If current item field equals value.

    This step adds a condition that’s named If field equals value.

  7. In the If field equals value condition, choose the field link.

  8. In the list of values, choose Title.

  9. In the If field equals value condition, choose the value link.

  10. In the box, enter New task.

    The condition statement now reads If Current Item:Title equals New task.

  11. Choose the line under the condition statement, and then, on the ribbon, choose the Action button.

  12. In the list of actions, choose Set field in current item.

  13. In the Set field to value action, choose the field link, and then, in the list, choose Assigned to.

  14. In the Set field to value action, choose the value link, and then, in the list of existing users and groups, choose User who created the item.

  15. Choose the Add button, and then choose the OK button.

    The action statement now reads Set Assigned To to Current Item:CreatedBy.

Because Visual Studio can import only .wsp files, you must save the reusable workflow as a .wsp file and deploy it to SharePoint before importing it into Visual Studio.

Important note Important

If you receive a runtime error performing the following procedure, you have to perform the procedure on a system that has access to the SharePoint site.

To save and deploy the reusable workflow

  1. At the top of SharePoint Designer, choose the Save button to save your progress, and then choose the Publish button to deploy the workflow to the SPD1 SharePoint site.

  2. In the Navigation pane, choose the Workflows object.

  3. Under Reusable Workflow, choose SPD Task Workflow.

  4. On the ribbon, choose the Save as Template button to save the workflow as a .wsp file.

  5. Open the SPD1 SharePoint site in a browser to view the .wsp file in SharePoint.

  6. On the QuickLaunch bar, choose the Libraries link.

  7. In the Document Libraries section, choose the Site Assets link.

    The SPD Task Workflow file is listed with other site assets.

  8. In the list of files, choose the name of that file

  9. In the File Download dialog box, choose the Save button to save the .wsp file on your local system.

Import the .wsp file into Visual Studio by using an Import Reusable Workflow project. This project converts the workflow from a reusable, declarative workflow into a code workflow. After the workflow is converted, you will use code to modify its behavior.

To import a workflow from a .wsp file and modify it

  1. In Visual Studio, on the menu bar, choose File, New, Project.

  2. In the New Project dialog box, expand the SharePoint node under either Visual C# or Visual Basic, and then choose the 2010 node.

  3. In the Templates pane, choose the Import Reusable SharePoint 2010 Workflow template, leave the name of the project as WorkflowImportProject1, and then choose the OK button.

    The SharePoint Customization Wizard appears.

  4. On the Specify the site and security level for debugging page, enter the URL for the second SharePoint subsite that you created previously: http://system name/SPD2.

  5. In the What is the trust level for this SharePoint solution? section, choose the Deploy as a farm solution option button, and then choose the Next button.

    For more information about sandboxed versus farm solutions, see Sandboxed Solution Considerations.

  6. In the Specify the new project source page, browse to the location on the system where you previously saved the .wsp file, open the file, and then choose the Next button.

    Note Note

    Choose the Finish button to import all available items in the .wsp file.

    This displays a list of reusable workflows available for importing.

  7. In the Select items to import box, choose the SPD Task Workflow workflow, and then choose the Finish button.

    After the import operation is finished, a project named WorkflowImportProject1 is created containing a workflow named SPD_Workflow_TestFT. In this folder is the workflow's definition file Elements.xml and the workflow designer file (.xoml). The designer contains two files: the rules file (.rules) and the code-behind file (either .cs or .vb, depending on your project's programming language).

  8. In Solution Explorer, delete the Other Imported Files folder.

  9. In the Elements.xml file, delete InstantiationURL="_layouts/IniErkflIP.sspx".

  10. In Solution Explorer, choose WorkflowImportProject1, and then, on the menu bar, choose Project, Set as Startup Project to set WorkflowImportProject1 as the Startup Item.

    This displays the list immediately when you debug the project.

  11. Because the Import Reusable SharePoint 2010 Workflow template doesn’t import the association property values for the imported workflow, you must enter them. To do this:

    1. In Solution Explorer, choose the SPD_Workflow_TestFT node.

    2. Choose the ellipsis (ASP.NET Mobile Designer ellipse) button next to one of the list properties, such as the Target List property.

    3. Fill in the missing values in the SharePoint Customization Wizard, and then choose the Finish button.

  12. Choose the .xoml file, and then, on the menu bar, choose View, Designer to view the imported workflow in the workflow designer.

  13. In the Windows Workflow v3.0 node of the Toolbox, perform one of the following steps:

    • Open the shortcut menu for the Code activity, and then choose Copy. In the workflow designer, open the shortcut menu for the line under the SequenceActivity1 activity, and then choose Paste.

    • Drag the Code activity from the Toolbox to the workflow designer, and connect it to the line under the SequenceActivity1 activity.

    This adds an activity to the workflow designer named CodeActivity1. In this activity, you will add a code action that creates an announcement in the Announcements list when the user starts the workflow.

  14. Perform one of the following sets of steps:

    • Double-click CodeActivity1 to generate an event handler and view the code.

    • In the Properties window for CodeActivity1, set the value of the ExecuteCode property to codeActivity_ExecuteCode.

  15. Add the following under the existing using or Imports statements:

    using Microsoft.SharePoint;
    using System;
    
  16. Replace codeActivity1_ExecuteCode with the following:

    private void codeActivity1_ExecuteCode(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
    {
    
        try
        {
            // Get reference to SharePoint site.
            SPSite site = new SPSite("http://MyServer");
            SPWeb web = site.OpenWeb("SPD2/");
            // Get reference to Announcements list.
            SPList announcementsList = web.Lists["Announcements"];
    
            // Add announcement to Announcements list for the Task.
            SPListItem oListItem = announcementsList.Items.Add();
            oListItem["Title"] = "Assigned task on " + DateTime.Now.ToString();
            oListItem.Update();
        }
    
        catch (Exception err)
        {
            Console.WriteLine("Error: " + err.ToString());
        }        
    }
    

Next, run WorkflowImportProject1 to deploy it to a SharePoint site and then associate the workflow with the Tasks list to view and test the modified, converted workflow.

To deploy the project and associate the workflow

  1. In Visual Studio, choose the F5 key to run and deploy the converted workflow project.

  2. On the QuickLaunch bar, choose the Tasks link to display the Tasks list.

  3. On the List Tools tab, choose the Items button, and then choose the New Item button.

    The Tasks - New Item dialog box opens.

  4. In the Title box, enter New task, and then choose the Save button.

  5. On the List Tools tab, choose the List button, and then choose the List Settings button.

    The List Settings page appears.

  6. In the Permissions and Management section, choose the Workflow Settings link.

    The Workflow Settings page appears.

  7. Choose the Add a Workflow link.

  8. In the Workflow list, choose WorkflowImportProject1 - SPD Workflow Test.

  9. In the Name box, enter SPD Workflow Test, and then choose the OK button.

  10. In the QuickLaunch bar, choose the Tasks list.

  11. Choose the arrow next to New task, and then, in the list, choose Workflows.

  12. In the Start a New Workflow section, choose the link for SPD Workflow Test, and then choose the Start button to initiate the workflow.

    Note Note

    Alternatively, you can auto-associate a workflow with a list by running the workflow settings wizard and setting the workflow to auto-associate.

    Notice that two actions are performed by the workflow: your name appears in the task's Assigned To column, and an announcement appears in the Announcements list.

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