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Microsoft Visio 2010 : Creating and Exporting SharePoint Workflow Diagrams

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1/22/2014 2:45:16 AM
A workflow is a set of process steps, some or all of which have been automated. For the automated parts of a workflow, documents and files are stored and moved electronically, according to a set of predefined rules, so that they are available to participants as required.

To define a workflow, you need to identify three things:

  • The participants (both people and systems)

  • The sequence of activities

  • The documents, databases, and other required work items

Common workflow examples in many organizations include the following:

  • Approving employee expense reports

  • Getting approval and then registering for a seminar

  • Writing, editing, getting approval for, and publishing a new policy manual

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 includes a variety of predefined workflows, and you can both customize the existing workflows and define new workflows using SharePoint Designer. However, SharePoint Designer is a text-oriented tool. Many people, especially those who are already familiar with creating flowcharts in Visio, prefer to define workflows visually.

Because of that desire, Visio Premium 2010 includes a SharePoint Workflow template. You can use it to build graphical workflow layouts and you can move workflow definitions in both directions between Visio and SharePoint Designer. For example, you can create a workflow definition in Visio, export it to SharePoint to add required parameters, test and revise the workflow, and then bring it back to Visio to see the new visual representation.

In this exercise, you will create a simple workflow to check a document out of a SharePoint repository, verify the creation date of the document, and revise the document if it is more than one year old. You will create the workflow by using the Visio SharePoint Workflow template, validate it against the SharePoint Workflow rules, and then export it in SharePoint Designer format.

Set Up

Start Visio, or if it’s already running, click the File tab, and then click New. In the Template Categories section, click Flowchart, and then double-click Microsoft SharePoint Workflow. Save the drawing as Document Revision Workflow. If the Shapes window does not display two columns of masters, adjust its width.

Tip

Take a moment to explore the three stencils that open with this template. In addition to the Quick Shapes stencil, you will see SharePoint Workflow Actions, SharePoint Workflow Conditions, and SharePoint Workflow Terminators.

  1. From the Quick Shapes stencil, drag a Start shape and drop it near the left page margin.

  2. Point to the start shape’s AutoConnect arrow, and from the Quick Shapes menu, add a Terminate shape.

  3. From the SharePoint Workflow Actions stencil, drag a Check out item shape onto the connector between the start and terminate shapes.

    Tip

    You will need to scroll down to find Check out item.

    See Also

    Visio moves the terminate shape to make room for the task shape.

  4. From the SharePoint Workflow Conditions stencil, drag a Created in date span shape onto the connector between the Check out item shape and the terminator.

  5. With the new condition shape still selected, type Older than one year?.

  6. From the SharePoint Workflow Actions stencil, drag a Start custom task process shape onto the connector between the Older than one year? shape and the terminator.

  7. With the new task shape still selected, type Revise document.

  8. From the SharePoint Workflow Actions stencil, drag a Check in item shape onto the connector between the Check out item shape and the terminator.

  9. Drag the AutoConnect arrow under the Older than one year? shape and connect to the Check in item shape.

    Important

    When you glue the connector to the Check in item shape, be sure to glue it to the connection point on the bottom of the shape in order to create static glue. Do not create dynamic glue. Although this distinction does not affect the workflow for SharePoint, in this particular case, it creates a better layout for the connector.

    See Also

    You are now ready to try exporting your SharePoint workflow.

    image with no caption

    Export

  10. On the Process tab, in the SharePoint Workflow group, click the Export button.

    See Also

    Important

    Visio will not let you export a SharePoint workflow if it contains errors. Consequently, Visio always runs a diagram validation check when you click Export.

  11. Click OK to close the Export Workflow dialog box.

    Visio opens the Issues window and reports two issues, both related to the connectors on the Older than one year? condition shape.

    Important

    You need to add Yes/No labels to the condition’s outgoing connectors. Unlike the flowchart shapes, the connectors in the SharePoint Workflow stencil have been given right-click menu options for exactly this purpose.

  12. Right-click the connector between the Older than one year? shape and the Revise document shape. Then click Yes.

  13. Right-click the connector from the Older than one year? shape to the Check in item shape. Then click No.

  14. On the Process tab, in the SharePoint Workflow group, click the Export button. Visio clears the Issues window and opens the Export Workflow dialog box.

  15. In the Export Workflow dialog box, type Document Revision Workflow as the file name, navigate to your desired folder, and click Save.

    Visio creates a Visio Workflow Interchange file with a file extension of .vwi.

Clean Up

 Save your changes to the Document Revision Workflow drawing, and then close it.

The .vwi file you’ve created can be imported directly into SharePoint Designer.

Important

Creating a workflow in Visio Premium 2010 does not eliminate the need to use SharePoint Designer. Although you can use Visio to define and illustrate the flow of the work in a process, you must still use SharePoint Designer to provide the rest of the information that is required to execute the workflow.

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