Sharepoint 2010 : Making Business Processes Work - Using the Provided Workflows (part 1) - Associating a Workflow with a List

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To get you started, SharePoint provides several out-of-the-box workflows that can be applied immediately to your lists and libraries. While SharePoint Foundation Server 2010 users only get one such workflow (the Three-State workflow), SharePoint Server 2010 users have several to choose from. The advantage of using these workflows is that users can simply apply them directly without waiting for custom workflows to be built and deployed. The provided workflows are designed to be generic enough that they can be applied to many review and approval processes. 

1. Associating a Workflow with a List

By default, workflows are not associated with any of the list templates provided, but using them is a very simple process. To see what workflows are available for your list, let’s look at a Document Library.

To associate a workflow, open your document library and select the Library tab under Library Tools in the ribbon. In the settings section on the right, you will notice an icon menu for workflows (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. The workflow menu under Library Settings on the list ribbon allows you to add a workflow to your list

From here, you can select to Add a Workflow to your library. This will open the Add a Workflow page shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. The first page of the out-of-the-box workflow wizard lets you configure its name, associated template, and start-up parameters

On the Add a Workflow page, you will find several options:

  • Select Workflow Template

  • Workflow Name

  • Task List

  • History List

  • Start Options

The template list displays all the workflows available to you for your library. For this example we use the Approval workflow for our Annual Newsletter Review. The task list is used to store tasks that are assigned during the workflow (in this case reviewer tasks). The history list is used by the workflow to store messages such as status, errors, and general feedback. See Table 1 for start-up options on workflows.

Table 1. Workflow Start-up Options Allow You to Control When the Workflow Is Initiated
NameDescriptionUse For ...Notes
Allow this workflow to be manually started.Lets a user manually initiate this workflow for an item.Letting users selectively run workflows on items.The default settings on workflows can be overridden by the user initiating the workflow.
Start this workflow to approve publishing a major version of an item.This workflow starts when a user marks (publishes) a document as a major version.Making sure published items get approvals. Uses the content approval feature, which keeps items in draft state until approved.Out-of-the-box workflows only. Only available for libraries with major versioning enabled.
Start this workflow when a new item is created.Automatically initiates the workflow when a new item is added or created.Ensuring workflows always run for newly added items (approvals and so on). 
Start this workflow when an item is changed.Automatically initiates the workflow when an existing item is modified.Ensuring that a workflow runs for modified items (approvals and so on). 

Once you have all options configured and click Next, the Properties page for the workflow opens (see Figure 3). This lets you define the default list of approvers among other values such as approval order, notification message, task due dates, and so on. When you elect to let users initiate the workflow manually, these settings can be overridden by the user who initiates the workflow. If you elect to start the workflow automatically, the default settings will always be used when the workflow begins.

Figure 3. Use the second page of the workflow wizard to set default settings for the workflow

Had we chosen a different workflow, the options presented to us in the properties page may be completely different. Indeed, certain workflows may not require default properties at all.

  •  Sharepoint 2010 : Making Business Processes Work - Getting Started with Workflow, Workflow Terminology
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