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Understanding the Workflow Process

This content is no longer actively maintained. It is provided as is, for anyone who may still be using these technologies, with no warranties or claims of accuracy with regard to the most recent product version or service release.

A workflow process is a series of tasks or events, the order in which they must be performed, and code that runs when they are performed. The workflow process is applied to items in the selected folder. Multiple workflow processes can be defined for a single folder. However, only one process can be designated as the default process.

Note   You can have workflow process per item if you have set the Ad Hoc workflow property on the default workflow process and have associated workflow for that item.

In the Workflow Designer for Exchange Server, a diagram representing the workflow process is displayed on the Workflow Designer Design Surface. The following diagram shows a graphical representation of your workflow process, including the states, the transitions between the states, and the events associated with the states.

Workflow Designer Design Surface


In the previous illustration, there exists only one state, Active. The Item Create and Item Delete events are added automatically. These events make it possible for the user to create and to delete items in the folder. When an item is created, it is set to Active.

Using the workflow toolbox, you can add additional workflow states, such as Resolved and Closed. Then, you can add the corresponding transitions, such as Resolve and Close, to link the states. In addition, you can modify the workflow process to handle non-linear workflow. For example, after an item is closed, a user might want to reopen it to adjust an amount or correct an error. This requires adding an additional state, called Reopened, along with adding the appropriate events, including two transitions, Reopen and Reresolve. The following diagram illustrates these changes.

Example Workflow


Workflow Components

A workflow process is comprised of workflow states, events, and (optionally) scripts.

When you create a workflow state, you create a defined step or condition in the workflow process, such as Active, Resolve, or Closed.

Each state can have multiple events. Some events, such as Change, Receive, and Expiry, are used to create a transition from one state to another. Other events, including Enter, Exit, Create, and Delete, typically are used to trigger Microsoft® Visual Basic® Scripting Edition (VBScript) association with the workflow process.

Scripts use events as triggers and add them to the Script Editor as validation functions and sub procedures. In addition, you can create common scripts that are used by multiple procedures.

Default Workflow Process

When you select the New Workflow Process option, a new empty workflow process is created. A default name is given to the workflow process, Process1, which can be renamed at the time of creation or in the Properties window. If the Properties window is not displayed, use the View, Properties Window option.

The initial workflow process is enhanced with states, transitions, and events.

In addition to transitions, such as Change, Receive, and Expiry, you might add Enter and Exit events to trigger script. For example, if you want to evaluate the current value in an item before it is changed, you use the Enter event to run a script as soon as a state is entered. Otherwise, when an item enters the Resolved state, the current date, current time, and value in the item's Resolved By field are sent to the manager indicating the item is resolved.

See Also

Building a Workflow Process for Exchange Server | Creating the Exchange Folder for the Project | Creating the Project and Workflow Process for Exchange Server | Setting the Project Properties for Exchange Server | Using the Workflow Design Surface | Adding and Modifying States in a Workflow | Adding and Modifying Transitions in Workflow | Copying a Workflow Process for Exchange Server | Deleting a Workflow Process for Exchange Server | Viewing and Printing the Workflow | Permitting Ad Hoc Workflow Processes