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Workflow Development Tools Comparison

Published: May 2010

The following table offers a detailed comparison between the capabilities offered by the Visual Studio 2010 Workflow Designer and Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010, and the workflows you can create with each.

Visual Studio 2010 Workflow Designer

SharePoint Designer

Can write workflows for SharePoint Foundation 2010

Can write workflows for SharePoint Foundation 2010

Code-behind file enables developer to write custom Microsoft Visual C# or Microsoft Visual Basic code to express business logic

No code behind; workflow rules file declaratively encapsulates business logic instead

Generates workflow markup file

Generates workflow markup file

Workflow is authored as a template, which can be associated with multiple sites and lists

Workflow is authored against and data-bound to specific list at design time

Workflows can also be created as site workflows which make them reusable across multiple sites.

Workflow markup file, or markup and code-behind files, compiled into workflow assembly

Workflow markup, workflow rules, and supporting file are stored, uncompiled, in a specific document library on the site

Workflow template must be associated with each list on which it is to be available.

Association happens when the workflow is authored against the specific list; no later association is necessary or possible

Workflow template can be associated with a site content type.

Cannot author workflows against content types.

Can use any forms technology. For example, Microsoft ASP.NET forms for SharePoint Foundation 2010 workflows.

Uses the Forms Web Part.

Can include workflow modifications

Workflow modifications are not available

Can author custom activities for inclusion in workflows

Must use activities provided in the user interface. However, custom activities can be exposed to the design surface by modifying the ACTIONS files which contain the list of activities that can be used.

Package workflow assembly and workflow definition as a SharePoint Feature, and deploy to the site

Automatically handles deployment to specific list

Can use Initiation form to gather information from the user when they start the workflow

Can use Initiation form to gather information from the user when they start the workflow

Can use custom forms for users to interact with tasks in SharePoint Foundation 2010

Can use custom forms for users to interact with SharePoint Foundation 2010 tasks

Visual Studio debugging available

No step-by-step debugging available

Can author both sequential and state workflows

Can author only sequential workflows

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