Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
T H E T H R E E -S T A T E W O R K F L O W
Workflows are a pretty simple and nifty concept. You know that you have lists. You know that
you have libraries. What if you wanted to automatically create a task in a Tasks list when a
document is marked Ready For Review (this would be a custom field you’d create in the library) and
you want the user to see that they have a new task when they log in and view their User Tasks
web part on the home page?
You could do it with a workflow , which is simply a programmatic process that is triggered
by an event or change in its associated list. The trigger can send an alert, create a new list or
list item, or change the state of a field (or more, with SharePoint Designer/Visual Studio).
Workflows make SharePoint’s lists, as well as document management and collaboration, more
useful by automating and standardizing the organization’s processes.
Workflows can be added to SharePoint as reusable workflows (workflows that are made to
be usable on any site), as site workflows, as templates (as solution or .wsp files), or they can be
assigned to a particular list, library, or content type.
On a list where you want to apply a workflow template, select the template in Workflow
Settings (under List Settings), then name it, configure it specifically for that list, and what you
want it to do. At that point, a workflow instance is associated with that list to be triggered by a
change in that list, which can then effect changes in other lists—send notifications, and so on—
depending on how the workflow is designed.
My example uses the out-of-the-box sample workflow called Three-State, which is
available for any list or library in the site collection (but really was originally designed for the Issue
Tracking list). This workflow utilizes a field with three choices and a Tasks list. When an item
is created in a list with which this workflow is associated, the workflow will check the state of
a choice field you specify to see whether a particular option (in this case, Active) is selected. If
so, the workflow will check the Assigned To field and create a new item in a specified Tasks list
for the site, that is assigned to that person for the issue (and email them). When that task item is
set as completed, the Issue Status field of the issue item that spawned it is changed to the second
If the Issue Status setting of an issue item is changed to Resolved, an email is sent to either
someone you specify or the person to whom the issue was assigned, telling them to review this
issue and change it to Closed if necessary (which is the third stage of the workflow).
WANT MORE WORKFLOW FUNCTIONALITY?
To really use more than the one sample SharePoint Foundation workflow available out of the box,
you must create workflows using SharePoint Designer or Visual Studio. Yes, you must download
or buy (and install) another product to be able to use all the features of a free product. However, for
workflows, it might be worth the effort (or, if you can use Visual Studio, the price).
Setting Up a Three-State Workflow
To demonstrate how it works, let’s set up a Three-State workflow for the new Issue Tracking list:
1. While on the Issue Tracking list, make sure the List ribbon is active, click the Workflow
button’s drop-down arrow in the last section of the ribbon, and select Add A Workflow