Observed Behavior: Moving SPD Workflows Within a Site Collection


UPDATE: I’ve been researching how to embed a SPD workflow into a site definition.  This MSDN forum chain has some interesting information.  It’s not conclusive, but points to path through the jungle.

I’m giving this post a slightly oddball "Observed Behavior" lead since I’m a little leery of drawing conclusions from it.  SPD workflows are … temperamental.

People are often asking / wondering / fretting over moving SPD workflows from one place to another.  Today, I followed these steps and made these observations:

  • I created a workflow using SharePoint Designer in a site attached to a document library.
  • The associated document library already housed several documents.
  • I saved the site as a template.
  • When I saved the site as a template, I saved the content as well.
  • I created a new site in the same site collection using that template.

At this point, I tried to run the workflow.  It promptly terminated itself with the log message, "Failed on start".

I expected this.  I have low expectations when it comes to moving SPD workflows around.

I continued:

  • Opened the site in SharePoint Designer.
  • Had a peek at the workflow.  It seemed fine.
  • I clicked "Finish".
  • I ran the workflow.

This time, it worked fine.

I’ll add that this workflow used the "collect data from user" action which is a relatively complex action under the hood.

I tentatively conclude that the process of "finishing" the workflow caused SPD to properly associate the SPD workflow with the new document library.  I also conclude the XOML and other XML artifacts are reasonably "loose".  They are not super tightly coupled to the document library.

What does this mean?  Assuming it’s a reliable and reproducible process, there’s at least one rough method we can use to move them around.  I don’t know if this would work if we crossed site collection boundaries or even more drastically, entire new farms (e.g. dev to stage to prod). 

If you’re reading this and inclined, please post a comment or email me your SharePoint Designer migration story.  I’ll gladly update this posting with any insights thus offered.


Subscribe to my blog.

Technorati Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *