So here you are, checking out your free 30-day trial of Workflow Conductor, and you're thinking: "I'm already using the native SharePoint out-of-the-box workflows. Am I going to have to manage my workflows in two different places if I start using Conductor workflows too?" You can relax, because Workflow Conductor gets along quite nicely with SharePoint. You could say that Conductor is the ice cream to SharePoint's chocolate cake…the strawberries to its shortcake…the chocolate to its peanut butter, even.
After you get back from planning today's lunch around dessert, read on as I review the ways in which Workflow Conductor seamlessly integrates with the native SharePoint workflow management features. You'll see that you can manage Conductor workflows just like you would native SharePoint (or SharePoint Designer, or Visual Studio) ones. And as the cherry-and-whipped-cream topping to this post, I'll point out a few Conductor features that enhance the built-in SharePoint tools.
Starting a Workflow
Workflow Conductor workflows are started just like any native SharePoint workflow: Click the Workflows link while viewing item properties, or choose Workflows from the item's drop-down menu. Conductor workflows are listed right alongside native SharePoint ones. In fact, unless you put the word "Conductor" in the workflow's name or description (like my example below), your users will never know a particular workflow was created in Conductor. How's that for seamless integration?
Viewing Workflow Status & Tasks
As you're using Workflow Conductor and reviewing the Online Application Notes, you'll probably notice that we've provided quite a few new tools to view workflow status and history. That doesn't mean we've turned our nose up at SharePoint's native functionality. When you start a workflow on an item in a list or library, Conductor will add a workflow status column (just like SharePoint does), and you can click on it to view the status, task, and history information for the most recent workflow instance in the familiar SharePoint format.
Don't forget about those Conductor tools, though. They really shine when it comes to seeing information about all the workflows in your list, site, or site collection in one place. Here are a few examples:
- The Workflow Status option in the item's drop-down menu lets you view a list of all workflows started on that item, with a link to more details for each one.
- The My Workflows and My Workflow Tasks Web parts give users a consolidated view of workflows they've started and tasks assigned to them.
- The My Workflow Reports Web part provides a customizable graphical view of all workflows started in the site or site collection.
- The View Workflow Status option in the Workflow Conductor Control Panel lets administrators see workflow action in the whole farm.
- The Log Viewer Web part helps troubleshoot those pesky workflow issues that are hard to nail down using just the standard SharePoint status messages.
Associating a Workflow to a List or Library
One of the key features of Workflow Conductor is the ability to create a workflow once and then use it on any list or library in your site collection. Once you deploy the workflow, it's activated as a feature in the site collection just like the native SharePoint out-of-the-box workflows. And just like those SharePoint out-of-the-box workflows, you add Conductor workflows to new lists and libraries from the Workflow settings page in Settings > List Settings or Settings > Library Settings. For detailed instructions, see the Bamboo Knowledge Base article: HOWTO: Add a Workflow to Another List or Library.
Changing Workflow Start Options
While you're adding that workflow to another list, you might notice the page where you can set workflow options like the Name, Task and History Lists, and in particular, workflow Start Options. Conductor deploys workflows with the default Start Option of Allow this workflow to be manually started by an authenticated user with Edit Items Permissions. If you'd like to make your workflow Start…when a new item is created or …when an item is changed, just click the Conductor workflow's name in the Workflow settings page to change those options, the same as you would for native SharePoint workflows.
Removing a Workflow
Workflow Conductor adds a new menu item called Workflow Associations to the Settings menu in a list or library. This is a quick shortcut to see all the Conductor workflows associated with your list, as well as an easy way to delete ones you no longer need. However, you can do the same thing from the native SharePoint Workflow settings page. At the bottom of that page, click the Remove a workflow link. Locate the Conductor workflow in the list, and select the option to Remove it from the list entirely (which will immediately terminate any instances that are still running), or just remove it from the available workflow list by selecting the No New Instances option.
Viewing Workflow Statistics
SharePoint provides a site collection Workflows report in the Galleries section of the Site Actions > Site Settings page. This is a simple list of all the workflows active in your site collection, along with their status, the number of lists or libraries the workflow is associated to, and a count of how many instances of the workflow are currently In Progress. Conductor workflows are included here with all your other SharePoint workflows so you can accurately assess workflow usage in your site collection.
See? I told you so: Workflow Conductor and SharePoint go great together. If you have any questions about how to manage your Conductor workflows, we'd love to hear from you in the Workflow Conductor Forum.