Shareflex – a deep dive into the workflows

Workflows are essential in every (complex) Business Application. They make sure that people can work more efficiently and that actions are executed by the right person, on the right time in a secured manner. In this article we will take a deep dive into the Shareflex workflow designer.

The Shareflex workflow designer is a browser-based tool that allows a user to create a SharePoint workflow for just about anything you can think of. Typically a Shareflex workflow consists of:

  • Binding; connects a workflow to a list or library
  • Steps; a set of workflow actions and possible outcomes. It alllows execution of steps either independently, in parallel, or sequentially
  • Actions; automated operations that do not require user interaction, and
  • Task; is a form that will be created when a workflow step requires the interaction of one or more users, before it moves on to another workflow step.

Further in this article we will explain in more detail each of these Shareflex workflow components.

It is possible to export/backup a workflow to an XML file.

Additionally, if you require certain custom or advanced functionality, it is possible to extend a workflow with JavaScript (a Shareflex JS library is available) or BRE. This is a comprehensive proprietary XML-based domain specific language made by Shareflex.

The image below shows the design of a simple Shareflex workflow

The same workflow design shown at a different zoom level looks like this:

Workflow bindings

A workflow binding (also known as workflow association) establishes a link between a workflow and a list or library. It allows you to select a list or library, a start-step, an end-step and a workflow start condition.

The following workflow start conditions are available:

  • New – start the workflow when you safe a list item
  • Status – start the workflow when a list item field has a certain value. You can optionally combine this with JavaScript or BRE for a highly customizable solution
  • Query – start the workflow depending on a condition specified in a CAML query
  • Manually – adds a ‘Submit Workflow’ button to a Shareflex form so a user can start the workflow manually
  • Function – start the workflow depending on a condition specified in a BRE function.

Each workflow can have multiple bindings giving you a lot of flexibility. For instance, it means that multiple (corresponding) apps are able to use the same workflow as long as they do not interfere with each other. In addition, it makes it easy to automatically start the workflow at different steps, depending on a dynamic condition such as the value of a field.

Workflow actions

The Shareflex workflow designer offers a couple of commonly needed operations such as ‘sending an email’ or ‘updating a list item field value’. These actions are easy to add and do not require any coding knowledge.

You can use the proprietary BRE language to create actions with custom functionality.

Workflow placeholders

Within the workflow designer various useful placeholders in all text fields are available. Once you start a workflow their corresponding values will replace them. For example, there are placeholders for the author of the list item that starts the workflow, for the task approver, and for all field values of the list item.

Workflow tasks

If within the workflow a certain step requires user interaction before it moves on to another step a workflow task form will be created. For example, when a request needs approval, or when you need to choose the next step manually.

Shareflex stores all workflow tasks in a dedicated Workflow Tasks list. Users will only be able to see their own specific tasks.

As you can see in the image below, every workflow task page consists of two parts; the available workflow task options and the list item that started the workflow. In this case, there are two options (approve and reject), and the task assignee is allowed to edit some of the form fields.

You can assign a workflow task to a single user or to a group of users. By default, a workflow task completes when the first task assignee finishes the task. However, it is also possible to require the action of all task assignees.

Workflow history

Every Shareflex form that contains a workflow has a History form tab with the outcome of each workflow task.

User experience

To get a better feel of the Shareflex workflow please have a look at the following video which shows a Shareflex application with a workflow in SharePoint Online.

 

 

Please schedule an appointment in case you wish to see how Shareflex workflow can assist you in creating the required SharePoint (approval) processes.