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SharePoint Workflow Authoring in Visio Premium 2010 (Part 1)

SharePoint Workflow Authoring in Visio Premium 2010 (Part 1)

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Visio has long been the tool of choice for documenting processes. Ever since the introduction of workflow support in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, we have been hearing from customers, “wouldn’t it be great to visualize SharePoint workflows in Visio like flowcharts? Wouldn’t it also be great to go from Visio business process diagrams to executable workflows on SharePoint?”

In Visio Premium 2010, we have partnered with the SharePoint Designer team to bring you that functionality to life. In this blog post and the next, we will introduce to you how you can author SharePoint workflows just like any flowcharts in Visio, and how such workflows can then be imported into SharePoint Designer 2010 for further editing before it can be executed in SharePoint.

What are SharePoint Workflows?

First of all, what are SharePoint Workflows? Workflow is just another way of saying process flow, something most Visio users are already familiar with. In SharePoint, there are pre-defined common activities (e.g. Send email) that can be executed together with others, and together this forms a “workflow”. Some SharePoint workflow examples include: document approval workflow, expense approval workflow, and document review feedback workflow. A user may originally create the business workflow in Visio, as shown below:

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That same workflow, implemented as a SharePoint Workflow, can look like the following in SharePoint Designer 2010:

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So how can you go from a business flowchart in Visio to a workflow published to SharePoint?

Starting from Visio: New SharePoint Workflow Template

In Visio Premium 2010, we are introducing a brand new drawing template just for SharePoint Workflow. When you start up Visio, you can go to New->Flowchart->Microsoft SharePoint Workflow in order to start authoring a Visio SharePoint Workflow from scratch.

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This is especially handy for Business Analysts or Process Analysts who are already familiar with flowcharting in Visio, but would like to automate the workflow to be executed in SharePoint.

Upon opening the drawing, you will notice that key SharePoint activities are available in three separate stencils: SharePoint Workflow Actions, SharePoint Workflow Conditions, and SharePoint Workflow Terminators. Every SharePoint activity directly maps to those available in SharePoint Designer 2010.

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To start authoring a SharePoint workflow, simply drop shapes to the drawing canvas, just like creating any basic flowchart in Visio. Note you can modify the original shape text and replace it with text more relevant to your business process:

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Exporting Workflow to SharePoint Designer 2010

When you are done with authoring your workflow, you can export it in a file that can be imported by SharePoint Designer 2010. By exporting the workflow to SharePoint Designer 2010, SharePoint specialists or IT professionals alike can further parameterize the workflows by binding workflow activity fields with SharePoint lookups and then publish as executable workflows.

To export, simply go to the Process tab, and click Export:

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Visio will automatically validate the workflow first to make sure the workflow is valid (for more information about our validation feature, see this earlier blog post). In the event that your workflow has issues, an Issues window will pop up, and the shape with the issue will be highlighted.

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After you fix all issues, the workflow will be exported as a Visio Workflow Interchange (*.vwi) file, which can be imported into SharePoint Designer 2010.

Upcoming Post: Part 2 of SharePoint Workflow Authoring in Visio Premium 2010

In the next blog post, we will discuss in more detail about the round-tripping capabilities between SharePoint Designer 2010 and Visio 2010. We will also discuss the ability to publish Visio workflow visualization through SharePoint Designer 2010. So stay tuned! And don’t forget to send us feedback through the Send a Smile feedback tool or comment on this post!

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  • This is most impressive, but it's a bit of a shame that Visio 2010 couldn't have provided a workflow export option for MOSS / SharePoint Designer 2007.

  • Microsoft visio shapes in Visio 2007 helps you quickly implement new services as well as easily move, add, and make changes to existing ones. Visio 2007 download gives a wide range of templates, including logical, physical, rack, process, and asset diagrams help you visualize processes, optimize systems, track projects and resources, and resolve problems quickly. With Office Visio 2007, you can also visualize security issues on network diagrams. In addition, the Visio Toolbox Web site delivers more Visio tools, best practices, and reference materials to maximize your investment and simplify processes.  

  • this must get biz analysts and PMs buzzing

  • Hi Robin,

    There is a workflow export option for SharePoint Designer 2010- we will be discussing that in more detail in an upcoming blog post. We do not, however, support exporting the workflow to MOSS.

    Thank you for reading the Visio Team blog!

    Visio team.

  • VISIO network diagrams in MS Visio 2010 - Microsoft Visio 2010 takes diagramming to a new level with dynamic, data-driven visualization tools and templates, enhanced process management

    capabilities, and advanced Web sharing. Bring real-time data together from multiple sources,

    including Excel and Microsoft SQL Server, in one powerful diagram using vibrant graphics like icons and data bars.

  • Hi,

    This artical is very useful for me. I am a Share Point developer and always looking to

    learn something new. I would like to introduce another good SharePoint blog, Have a look.

    http://SharePointBank.com

    Harry

  • I'm an process analyst and I'm used to work just with Sharepoint Services with my customers, because of the expenses and complexity of MOSS. So that I'm concerned about if I can publish, from Sharepoint Designer 2010, the workflows I've been created from Visio 2010 to Sharepoint Services, not just to MOSS.

    Thanks in advance for your support.

    Best Regards

  • I am a little suprised that you cannot specify the properties on the visio actions. It seems to me that this introduces a 'double handling' step where by:

    1. you add a "send email" action

    2. You still have to document somewhere else, who the email is going to, what the subject is.. and what the body will contain.

    Is there a way to specify these properties in Visio?  I know I can put properties on Visio objects, but the workflow ones just seem to show the generic ones. :(

  • Understanding that Project Server workflows are only possible with Visual Studio 2010, can someone comment on integration between Visio Premium workflows and Visual Studio 2010 workflow?

  • thanks Visio Team and thanks microsoft,every thing come visualy and more flexable.

    thanks for helpful article

  • Can anyone recommend a book (or e-book)for this?

    Thanks!

  • "I am a little suprised that you cannot specify the properties on the visio actions. It seems to me that this introduces a 'double handling' step where by:

    1. you add a "send email" action

    2. You still have to document somewhere else, who the email is going to, what the subject is.. and what the body will contain.

    Is there a way to specify these properties in Visio?  I know I can put properties on Visio objects, but the workflow ones just seem to show the generic ones. :("

    You are correct. There is no way to specify action properties in Visio and make them flow into the SharePoint workflow. This is a huge problem, and it makes this Visio feature arguably useless. I don't know who would want to do the double work of creating a diagram and then finishing the actual workflow design in SharePoint Designer. Come one Micro$oft... this isn't rocket science! This isn't all that hard to do!

  • Unfortunatelly, in the real life Visio is still documentation tool only. Good article on this topic: www.harepoint.com/.../VisioWorkflows.aspx

  • This tutorial is well-thought out and demonstrated through easy-to-understand examples!  I am glad that the Visio product team is keeping pace with round-trip engineering! Keep up the good work.

    Kristin

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