I'm not going to claim that Workflow Conductor workflows are "magic", but you can give your users a good David Copperfield impression by kicking a workflow off automatically when the situation warrants it. How cool would it be, for example, if a whole series of activities could be set into motion as soon as a user adds a new item to a SharePoint list, or if changing an item in one list could trigger updates to items in other lists, without the user having to lift a finger?
You can do all this just by changing the start options for your workflows. Workflow Start Options are a standard SharePoint feature. If you read my previous post, Workflow Conductor and SharePoint: Two Great Things That Go Great Together, you learned that Workflow Conductor works hand-in-hand with pretty much all of SharePoint's workflow management features, including start options.
To view and change the start options for a workflow, go to Settings > List Settings, and click the Workflow settings link. Click on the workflow name, and follow along to learn about the various start options available in the Workflow Settings page:
The next version of Workflow Conductor will allow designers to set workflow start options at design time!
Restrict who can start the workflow
Workflow Conductor deploys workflows with the default Start Option of Allow this workflow to be manually started by an authenticated user with Edit items Permissions. Whew, what a mouthful! All it means is that Contributors (users who can add and edit items in lists) will see the workflow in the list when they choose Workflows from the item's drop-down menu or at the top of the item's Properties page.
You can further restrict who can start the workflow by checking the option to Require Manage List Permissions to start the workflow. The Manage List Permission is usually granted to SharePoint Designers. If you check this option, only users who can also create, modify, and delete columns, views, and lists will be able to start the workflow.
Start a workflow when items are created or changed
Probably the most popular start options – and the stars of this post – are to trigger a workflow automatically when an item is created, when an item is changed, or both. These options can be selected in addition to the manual start options.
Start this workflow when a new item is created does just what it says: Whenever a new item is added to the list, the workflow will run (assuming the person who adds the item meets the required Permission level). This option will work even if your item is added by another workflow. So, one workflow could add an item to a list, and the addition of that new item could trigger another workflow configured to start when new items are added.
Start this workflow when an item is changed is a common companion to …when a new item is created. When anything about the item is changed, including document properties (for document libraries), the workflow will start. This is a great way to trigger changes to items in this or other lists based on field changes. A simple Conditional Branch widget in your workflow can check for a particular field's value, and take the appropriate action only when needed.
Start a workflow to approve publishing a new major version
MOSS 2007 allows you to configure the SharePoint out-of-the-box Approval workflow to run automatically when a new major version of a document is published – but that's the only workflow that can be configured with this option, unless you do some custom coding with Visual Studio. Look for more on this topic at a later date, because…
The next version of Workflow Conductor will support starting ANY Conductor workflow automatically when a new major version of a document is published!
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