Adding a Workflow to a Site Content Type in SharePoint

A couple of weeks after posting Using Workflow Conductor with SharePoint Content Types, we got an excellent question from a customer: "Do Workflow Conductor workflows work with Site Content Types?"

Absolutely! Workflow Conductor workflow associations behave just like SharePoint workflows when it comes to site content types. But let's back up a bit and explain what site content types are, and why we care about them when talking about workflows.

A content type is a collection of properties and settings that can be used to describe an item. For example, when you click New in a Task list, the form you fill out contains all the properties in a content type called "Task". This content type is based on the Task content type in the Site Content Type Gallery, in Top Level Site Home > Site Actions > Site Settings > Modify All Site Settings > Site content types (under Galleries). If you take a look at the Tasks content type here, you'll see that it has a list of columns associated with it, and these are the columns you see when you create a new task.

You can create your own content types in the Site Content Type Gallery, with your own set of columns and other settings (click the link for more information). When you create a content type in the top level site's Gallery, it is available anywhere in your site collection. To use a Site Content Type in a list, select the option to Allow management of content types in Settings > List Settings > Advanced settings, and then add the Content Type in the List Settings page by clicking Add from existing site content types. Here's an illustration of how to do this in a list I called Default Tasks, using a site content type I created called Special Tasks:

Note: You can also create site content types at the individual site level, and these content types would only be available to lists and libraries in that site. These content types can be based on the top level site's content types, but any changes to the individual site's content types would only be relevant to lists in that site. If you want a site content type available to your entire site collection, make sure to create it in the top level site's Site Content Type Gallery.

After you add the content type to the list, the new content type is available in the New drop-down list (you can customize the order and available content types in the List Settings page).

When you make changes to the content type in the Site Content Type Gallery, you can elect to make that change apply anywhere the content type is used, anywhere in your site collection, without having to visit each list's settings. This is why they are called Site Content Types. It's a great way to enforce the use of certain properties that need to be associated with specific document or list item types to support your business process.

The "other settings" I referred to earlier when describing site content types is where workflows come in. In the previous article about content types, I showed you how to associate a Workflow Conductor workflow to a content type that had already been added to a list. But what if you want a workflow to always be available for a particular content type, no matter where the content type is used in the site collection, and you don't want list managers to have to worry about manually associating the workflow each time they create a list using that content type?

You can associate the workflow to the content type in the Site Content Type Gallery. In the top level site's Site Content Type Gallery (make sure you're in the right place), click the content type you want the workflow associated to and click the Workflow settings link. Click Add a workflow and fill out the Workflow Settings page. Now, whenever you add this content type to a list, the workflow gets added right along with it and is automatically available for any item created using that content type.

What's really great is that you can still associate additional workflows to the content type at the list level, and this doesn't affect the content type in the Site Content Type Gallery or other lists that use that content type. But, if you want to add a workflow to a content type anywhere it's used in the site collection, just associate it to the content type in the top level site's Site Content Type Gallery and select the option to Add this workflow to all content types that inherit from this content type.

As I mentioned, Workflow Conductor workflows work the same way as SharePoint workflows when it comes to content types. So go ahead and download your free 30-day trial copy of Workflow Conductor today!

Hungry for more about Workflow Conductor and SharePoint content types, including an example of how to make use of content types in your workflow? Check out this article.

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