Workflow Changes in SharePoint 2013


SharePoint 2013


SharePoint 2010

.Net Version

Version 4.0


Version 3.5


Hosting Engine

Workflows are hosted outside of SharePoint.  Windows Azure Workflow (WAW) is an installable product and can be hosted on an on-premise SharePoint farm. Workflow is now run as a separate service. Communication of workflows with SharePoint will happen via REST / CSOM or OAuth. Workflow architecture is shown in Figure 1 below.



SharePoint 2010 hosted the workflow runtime.


  SharePoint 2013 workflow architecture.png

1: Workflow Architecture in SharePoint 2013


Workflow Data Storage

Workflow definitions reside within SharePoint and the actual workflow is stored on Windows Azure.


Workflow Data is stored in Content database.


Execution Context

Workflows run in the context of Azure workflow.


Workflows executed in the context of super user.



Can be deployed On-Premise or in a hosted environment. You can have a dedicated workflow farm for large deployments.


On-Premise deployment. To deploy in a sandbox environment we need to write a full trust proxy.



Analysis is very much improved for information related to workflows.


Analysis on the number of instances of workflows running, last run by and last run date are hard to acquire.


Since workflows are decoupled from SharePoint runtime it provides better stability, scalability and transparency.



Issues with scale and large deployments

Types of Workflows

Two types of workflows, SharePoint 2010 (Workflows hosted by SharePoint) and SharePoint 2013 (Workflows hosted by Windows Azure) as shown in Figure 2 below. New 15 workflow actions with Windows Azure Workflow . 


Workflow Foundation 3.5 hosted by SharePoint 2010



Workflow Options in SharePoint 2013.png

                   Figure 2: Workflow Platform Types


Changes for developers

Workflow Manager Client 1.0 is a redesigned workflow infrastructure that is built on Windows Workflow Foundation 4 and brings new power and flexibility to workflow authoring in SharePoint 2013. Developers can perform declaratively all of the actions as mentioned in the right hand for SharePoint 2010 by using services. SharePoint designer is significantly improved and many features that makes a developer's life easier like copy paste, undo, redo.

A new data type called DynamicValue is being introduced to capture run time dynamic values.


Write code for:

  • Calling SharePoint API
  • Connect and Query Database
  • Consume ATOM/REST Feeds
  • Call Web Services/REST Services


Visio Designer

Visio Designer is integrated into SharePoint designer,



Create in Visio and Export to SharePoint Designer.

General Improvements

  • Introduction of "Stages":

    • Mitigates SharePoint Designer's lack of loop support
    • Provides functionality of "state machine" workflows in WF 3.5
  • Declarative workflows have loops:
    •  Loop # times / with condition / with expression
  • Declarative workflows can call REST/SOAP services 


Workflows for SharePoint Apps

Visual Studio can be used to build workflows for SharePoint Apps whereas SharePoint Designer workflows cannot be used to build Apps.
Since workflows execute in the cloud and not in SharePoint it provides enormous flexibility in designing workflow-based apps for SharePoint.


 Workflows execute in SharePoint hence it is difficult to protect the intellectual rights that goes into building apps.


*.wsp or *.app








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