Workflow actions in SharePoint Designer 2010: A quick reference guide

Use this reference guide for a quick understanding of workflow actions available in Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010.

In this topic


Workflow actions in SharePoint Designer 2010

There are two ways to view the workflow actions list in SharePoint Designer 2010. While editing a workflow:

  • On the Workflow tab, in the Insert group, click Conditions to open the list of workflow actions.
  • Alternately, you can click inside a workflow step, in the search box that appears type words that are in the name of the condition that you want, such as add, and then press Enter. Actions and conditions that contain the words you typed appear below the text box.

Enter keywords into the workflow step and press Enter to see the list of related actions

The actions available to you during workflow creation depend on the context of the workflow. For example, the Start Approval Process and Start Feedback Process actions are not available for sites based on Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010. Some list actions are available only inside an impersonation step, and others are available only when your workflow is associated with a document content type. List actions that work on the current item such as Set Content Approval Status and Set Field in Current Item are not available in a site workflow.

Actions are organized in categories based on their area of application in a workflow. For example, actions that affect an item's behavior are listed under List Actions; actions pertinent to document sets under Document Set Actions; and custom workflow actions under Custom Actions. The categories for actions are:

  • Core Actions
  • Document Set Actions, appear only when your workflow is associated with a library or the document Content type.
  • List Actions
  • Relational Actions, appear only when your SharePoint site is running SharePoint Server 2010.
  • Task Actions, appear only when your SharePoint site is running SharePoint Server 2010.
  • Task Behavior Actions, appear only when you customize tasks in pre-built workflow actions, such as Start Approval Process and Start Feedback Process.
  • Utility Actions

Top of Page Top of Page

General Actions

General actions are actions that display in the Actions list irrespective of the workflow context.

Action Description
Core Actions Lists the most commonly-used actions in a workflow.
Add a comment

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Comment: comment text. Use this action to leave informative comments in the workflow designer for reference purposes. This is especially helpful when there are other users co-authoring the workflow. For example, if a variable in the current workflow doesn't have a user-friendly name, you use this action to add a comment to indicate what the variable does in the workflow.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Comment: This variable provides the department for the workflows initiator.

 Note    Anyone editing the workflow in Microsoft Visio 2010 will also be able to view the comments.

Add Time to Date

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Add 0 minutes to date (Output to Variable:date). Use this action to add a specific time in minutes, hours, days, months, or years to a date, and stores the output value in as a variable. The date can be a current date, specific date, or a lookup.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Add 7 days to Current Item:Modified (Output to: Variable: A week from Modified)

Do Calculation

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Calculate value plus value (output to Variable: calc). Use this action to perform a calculation, such as add, subtract, multiply, or divide two values, and stores the output value in a variable.

Following are examples of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

  • Calculate 36 divided by 9 (Output to Variable:Number of Widgets)

Calculate [fx :: Courses*, Filled Seats] plus 1 (Output to Variable: New Filled Seats)

Log to History List

Use this action to log a message about the workflow into its History list. A message can be a summary of a workflow event, or anything significant about the workflow. The workflow history list can be helpful in troubleshooting issues with the workflow.

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Log this message to the workflows history list. Use this action to record what a workflow has performed at a particular instance in its lifecycle. For example, you can log a message saying Copied to list A, or Sent email to reviewers. When the workflow completes successfully, you can go to the workflow's Workflow History list and see the messages display in the Description column.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Log A week from Modified variable set to the workflow history list

 Note   If you want an action that stops the workflow and then logs a message to the History list, use the Stop Workflow action instead.

Pause for Duration

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Pause for 0 days, 0 hours, 5 minutes. Use this action to pause the workflow for a specific duration in days, hours, or minutes.

 Note    The delay time is effected by the timer job interval, which has a default value of five minutes.

Pause until Date

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Pause until this time. Use this action to pause the workflow until a particular date. You can add a current date, a specific date, or a lookup.

Following are examples of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

  • Pause until 1/1/2010 12:00:00 AM

Pause until Variable: A week from Modified

Send an Email

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Email these users. Use this action to send an email to a user or a group. It is commonly used to send a confirmation e-mail to workflow participants. Email recipients can be a user or group within the site collection or anyone inside your organization. You can now easily specify a dynamic value in your subject such as a lookup or a string.

 Important    Outgoing e-mail must be configured in SharePoint Central Administration.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Email Variable: approvers

Set Time Portion of Date/Time Field

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Set time as 00:00 for date (Output to Variable: date). Use this action to create a timestamp, and stores the output value in a variable. You can set the time in hours and minutes and add a current date, specific date or a lookup. For example, suppose you want to add a timestamp to any new customer orders that is added to an orders list. Instead of using the current time of the order received in the timestamp, you want to add a specific time so that you can have your workflow perform any action to all the new items with the same timestamp, such as routing orders to the warehouse. Another example, suppose you have a presentation at 9 a.m. on a particular day, and would like an email reminder. You can use this action to add the time to the date, pause the workflow till the day before the presentation and then have the workflow send you a reminder.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Set time as 00:00 for Current Item:Modified (Output to Modified time variable set to midnight)

Set Workflow Status

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Set workflow status to Canceled. Use this action to set the status of the workflow. The default options are Canceled, Approved, and Rejected.

You can enter a new status value in the dropdown in the action. Once you enter a status value, the entry is automatically added to the dropdown list. For example, you can enter a status that is more user-friendly and informative than Completed or Canceled, such as Expense Report Approved.

 Notes 

  • You cannot rename or delete a status value once it has been created. However, you do not have to use it.
  • A custom status is applicable to the current workflow only, and cannot be used in another workflow.
  • A workflow cannot use custom status values that you define in the action if the action is used inside an impersonation step.

If the Set Workflow Status action is the last step in your workflow where you have also used a custom value, you can see your custom value in the Status column in the list upon workflow pausing or completion.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Set workflow status to Specification status: Ready for Design Review

Set Workflow Variable

This action is initially displayed in a workflow steps as Set workflow variable to value. Use this action to set a workflow variable to a value. Use this action when you want the workflow to assign data to a variable.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Set Variable: Expense report total to Current Item:Total

Stop Workflow

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Stop workflow and log this message. Use this action to stop the current instance of the workflow and log a message to the Workflow History list. The message that you specify in the action will appear in the Description column in the Workflow History upon workflow completion.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Stop workflow and log Workflow exceeded maximum duration

List Actions

This category of actions performs operations on list items.

 Note   Some actions in this category appear only in a particular workflow context. For example, some list actions only appear when you click inside an impersonation step in your workflow, while some appear only when your workflow is attached to a document content type. For more information, see Actions available within an impersonation step and Actions available when the workflow is associated to a document content type.

Check In Item

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Check in item in this list with comment: comment. Checks in an item that is checked out.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Check in item in Expense Reports with comment: Expense report approved

 Note   You can only check in items from a document library.

Check Out Item

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Check out item in this list. Use this action to check out an item.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Check out item in Current Item

 Notes 

  • You can only check out items from a library in your site

The workflow verifies if the item is checked in, before it checks out a document

Copy List Item

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Copy item in this list to this list. Use this action to copy a list item to another list. If there is a document in the list item, the workflow also copies the document to the destination list.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Copy item in Current Item to Archive Requests

 Important    You must have at least one column similar in both the source and destination lists

Create List Item

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Create item in the list (Output to Variable: create). Use this action to create a new list item in the list that you specify. You can supply the fields and values in the new item.

You can use this action whenever you want a new item to be created with specific information. For example, create announcements whenever important company-related documents such as contracts are approved, or archive documents.

 Note    The output variable is the ID of the item created in the list.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Create item in Orders (Output to Variable: New Order ID)

Delete Item

This action is initially displayed in a workflow steps as Delete item in this list. Use this action to delete an item.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Delete item in Documents

Discard Check Out Item

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Discard check out of item in this list. Use this action if an item is checked out, changes have been made to it, and you want to get rid of the changes and check the item back in.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Discard check out of item in Documents

Set Content Approval Status

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Set content approval status to this status with comments If you have content approval enabled in your list, use this action to set the content approval status field to a value such as Approved, Rejected, or Pending. You can type a custom status in the action.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Set content approval status to Approved with Looks good

 Notes 

  • Content approval needs to be enabled in the list in order to be able to use this action.

The Set Content Approval Status action works on the current item that the workflow is acting upon, therefore the action is not available in a site workflow.

Set Field in Current Item

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Set filed to value Use the action to set a field in the current item to a value.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Set Content Type ID to Specification

 Notes 

  • If you want to pause the workflow until it changes the value of the field, use the Wait for Field Change in Current Item action instead.

The Set Field in Current Item action is not available when you are working in a site workflow.

Update List Item

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Update item in list Use this action to update a list item. You can specify the fields and the new values in those fields.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Update item in Documents

Wait for Field Change in Current Item

This action is initially displayed in a workflow steps as Wait for field to equal value. This action pauses the workflow until the field in the current item has changed to a new value.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Wait for Approval Status to equal 1;#Rejected

 Note   If you want the workflow to change the value of the field, rather than have the workflow wait for the field to change, use the Set Field in Current Item action instead.

Task Actions Actions in this category are pertinent to task items.
Assign a Form to a Group

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Assign a custom form to these users. It enables you to create a custom task form with customized fields.

You can use this action to assign a task to one or more participants or groups prompting them to perform their tasks. Participants provide their responses it the fields of the custom task form and, when they are done with the task, click Complete Task on the form.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Assign Asset Reporting to Marketing

 Note    There is not a return value that identifies the task data.

Assign a To-do Item

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Assign to-do to these users. Use this action to assign a task to each of the participants, prompting them to perform their tasks and then, when they are done, to click the Complete Task button on their task form.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Assign Submit expense report to Marketing

Collect Data from a User

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Collect data from this user (Output to Variable: collect). Use this action to assign a task to the participant, prompting them to provide the needed information in a custom task form, and then click the Complete Task button on the task form.

This action has an output clause— meaning, the workflow stores the information returned by the action in a corresponding variable. The list item ID of the completed task item from the action is stored in the collect variable.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Collect Expense report from Marketing (Output to Variable: Marketing Expense Report)

Utility Actions

Most actions in this category can be used to extract information from text strings.

You can cut up a text string and use it in several different scenarios in workflow. Suppose your company wants to stamp all incoming documents in a specific name format such as date_department (e.g. 07142009_sales.docx), and you want to run workflows that assign tasks to a reviewer based on the date in that file. You could use a utility action to get the first 8 characters of the document name (07142009) and convert it into a date using lookup coercions so that you can assign tasks with that due date.

For more information on lookup coercions, see the See Also section.

Extract Substring from End of String

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Copy 0 characters from then end of string (Output to Variable: substring). Use this action to copy n number of characters from the end of a string and store the output value in a variable. You have to define the number of characters that the workflow has to copy from the string.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Copy 15 characters from then end of Current Item:Name (Output to Variable: Copy15CharFromEndOfName)

Extract Substring from Index of String

This action is initially displayed in a workflow steps as Copy from string, starting at 0 (Output to substring). Use this action to copy all characters starting from character n in a string and store the output in a variable.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Copy from Current Item:Name , starting at 4 (Output to Variable: CopyStringFromChar4)

Extract Substring from Start of String

This action is initially displayed in workflow step as Copy 0 characters from the start of string (Output to Variable: substring). Use this action to copy n number of characters from the start of a string and stores the output in a variable. You must define the number of characters that the workflow has to copy from the string.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Copy 15 characters from then start of Current Item:Name (Output to Variable: Copy15CharFromStartOfName)

Extract Substring of String from Index with Length

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Copy from string, starting at 0 for 0 characters (Output to Variable: substring). Use this action to copy n number of characters starting from a particular character in a string and stores the output in a variable. You must define the number of characters that the workflow has to copy from the string.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Copy from Current Item:Name, starting at 4 for 15 characters (Output to Variable: Copyfrom Char4for15CharOfName)

Find Interval Between Dates

This action is initially displayed in a workflow step as Find minutes between date and date (Output to Variable: time). Use this action to calculate the time difference, in terms of minutes, hours or days, between two dates and stores the output in a variable.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step,

Find minutes between CurrentItem:Modified and Today (Output to Variable: Last Modified In Minutes)

Top of Page Top of Page

Actions available when your SharePoint site is running Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010

Actions such as Start Approval Process, Declare Record, and Lookup Manager of a User are available only when your SharePoint site is running SharePoint Server 2010.

Action Description
Document Set Actions

Actions in this category are pertinent to a document set. A document set is a folder that stores multiple documents. In a workflow, a document set is treated as a single item.

 Note    To be able to use a document set in your library, you have to add the Document Set content type from your library settings page in your SharePoint site.

Start Document Set Approval Process

This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as Start Approval process for the contents of this Document Set with the users specified by this column. It starts an approval action on a document set to specific users.

When you use this action, the status of the documents set and the documents that comprise the document set are changed, such as to Approved or Rejected. If you used the Start Approval Process action on a document set, only the status of the document set would be changed.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step:

Start Bill of material approval process for the contents of this Document Set with the users specified by Variable: Bill of Materials Approvers

Capture a version of the Document Set

This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as Capture a version of this Document Set that includes the type versions of the contents with comment: comment. It locks the version of the document set that has the version of documents —major or minor— that you specify in the action.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step:

Capture a version of this Document Set that includes the last major versions of the contents with comment: Last major version of the Bill of Material

Send Document Set to Repository

This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as Submit Document set using this action to this destination content organizer with this explanation (Output to Variable: submit file result). It allows you to move or copy the document set to a document repository. A document repository can be a library in your SharePoint site, or a site on its own like the Document Center, that routes records to a specific destination based on rules that you define.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step:

Submit Document set using Copy to DocumentRepository:GUID with Copy final bill of Material to repository (Output to Variable: Copy Document Set to repository)

 Note   To be able to define rules and route documents, you have to first enable the Content Organizer site feature in your SharePoint site. For more information, see the Configure the content organizer to route records topic in the See Also section.

Set Content Approval Status of the Document Set

This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as Set content approval status for the contents of this Document Set to this status with comment. Use this action to set content approval of a document set to Approved, Rejected, or Pending.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step:

Set content approval status for the contents of this Document Set to Approved with The bill of materials is approved

 Note   Content approval needs to be enabled in the list in order to be able to use this action.

Task Actions

The following actions are used in approval scenarios. There are two pre-built workflow actions in this category—Start Approval Process and Start Feedback Process. Pre-built actions are like sub-workflows, meaning that the workflow logic is already defined in the actions; all you need to do is supply the appropriate information.

These actions are used in the globally reusable workflows Approval – SharePoint 2010 and Collect Feedback- SharePoint 2010 that come with SharePoint Server 2010. For information about when to use these workflows and when to use the actions, see the When should you use approval actions section of this article.

There is also the Start Custom Task Process. It has built-in logic, but unlike the previous two actions, does not come pre-built with what the workflow should be doing at each phase.

 Note   A category of actions called Task Behavior Actions appear in the actions list only when you customize the behavior of an approval action such as Assign Item for Approval or Assign Item for Feedback. For more information on Task Behavior Actions, see the Actions available inside approval actions section of this article.

Start Approval Process

This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as Start Approval process on Current Item with these users. It routes a document for approval. Approvers can approve or reject the document, reassign the approval task, or request changes.

The Start Approval Process action behaves like a pre-built workflow—the logic is already defined in the action. The action has several different phases built into it that defines task behaviors, task process behaviors, logging to the History Log, e-mail notifications, and completion conditions. Although the action comes with pre-built logic, it still needs information from you—such as the users (the reviewers), the order in which the tasks are to be routed to the participants—serial or parallel, the default is serial, and the due dates for task completion.

You can assign tasks to both internal and external participants in the action. An external participant can be an employee in your organization who isn't a user in the site collection, or anyone outside your organization

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step:

Start Specification Feedback process on Current Item with Variable: Reviewers

Start Feedback Process

This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as Start Feedback process on Current Item with these users. Use this action to assign task items for feedback to users in a specific order—serial or parallel. The default is parallel. Users or task participants can also reassign a task to other users. When the users are done, they can click the Submit Feedback button to indicate task completion.

The Start Feedback Process action behaves like a pre-built workflow—the logic is already defined in the action. The action has several different phases built into it that defines task behaviors, task process behaviors, logging to the History Log, e-mail notifications, and completion conditions. Although the approval action comes with pre-built logic, it still needs information from your end—such as the users (the reviewers), the order in which the tasks are to be routed to the participants—serial or parallel, and the due dates for task completion.

You can assign tasks to both internal and external participants in the action. An external participant can be an employee in your organization who isn't a user in the site collection, or anyone outside your organization.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step:

Start Specification Approval process on Current Item with Variable: Approvers

Start Custom Task Process

This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as Start Task process on Current Item with these users. The Start Custom Task Process action is an approval process template that you can use if the above approval actions do not meet your needs. The Start Custom Task Process also allows logic to be built inside of it, but unlike the other two approval actions, it does not come pre-built with what the workflow should be doing at each phase. You can specify your own actions and conditions in task behaviors or completion conditions.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step:

Start Video Lesson Approval process on Current Item with Variable: Approvers

List Actions This category of actions performs operations on list items.
Declare Record

This action displays in a workflow steps as Declare this item as a record. Use this action to identify a document as a record and apply the record restrictions settings you may have defined in the Record Declaration Settings page on your SharePoint site.

You can define record declaration settings at the top-level site in your site collection. Record declaration settings govern how records are treated, such as whether they can be edited or deleted, what metadata is applied to the record, and what a record’s retention policy is. Record declaration settings specify restrictions that should apply after an item is declared as a record, user roles allowed to declare records and if record declaration is available to all site users.

Undeclare Record

This action displays in a workflow steps as Undeclare the item as a record Use this action to undo any record declaration settings that are applied to a record.

You can define record declaration settings at the top-level site in your site collection. Record declaration settings govern how records are treated, such as whether they can be edited or deleted, what metadata is applied to the record, and what a record’s retention policy is. Record declaration settings specify restrictions that should apply after an item is declared as a record, user roles allowed to declare records, and if record declaration is available to all site users.

Relational Actions The action in this category enables you to use the relationship between a user and the user's manager.
Lookup Manager of a User

This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as Find Manager of this user (output to Variable: manager). Use this action to look up a user's manager. The output value is then stored in a variable.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step:

Find Manager of Workflow Context:Initiator (output to Variable: manager)

Top of Page Top of Page

Actions available within task actions

Actions such as Start Approval Process and Start Feedback Process can be used in workflows to assign list items for approval or feedback. These actions are pre-built, which means that much of the workflow logic is already defined in the action; you need to supply the appropriate information, such as the approvers or reviewers.

 Note   If the above actions do not meet your needs, you can customize them in the browser, SharePoint Designer 2010, and development environments compatible with SharePoint, such as Visual Studio. You can also customize the Start Custom Task Process action with the same tools. This action is a template that you can use to define your own process for your organization.

When you customize task behavior inside actions such as Start Approval Process and Start Feedback Process, a new category of actions titled Task Behavior Actions are available.

 Note    The actions available in the category vary depending on your context in a workflow.

Action Description
End Task Process This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as End Task Process. It ends the task process. The main workflow then continues to the next action.
Set Content Approval Status (as author)

This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as Set content approval of item that the task process is running on to this status (run as the workflow author). It allows you to set the approval status of the list item to Approved, Rejected, or Pending using the permissions of the workflow author, and not the workflow initiator. This is commonly used if the person who starts an approval workflow may not have the permissions to approve a document.

The list item is the item that the action is currently running on. This may or may not be the item the workflow is running on.

 Note    Content approval needs to be enabled in the list that the workflow is associated to.

Wait for Change in Task Process Item This action is displays in workflow steps as Wait for change in item that the task process is running on. Use this action to make the workflow pause the task process until a value changes in the item that the approval process is currently running upon.
Wait for Deletion in Task Process Item This action is displays in workflow steps as Wait for deletion of item that the task process is running on. Use this action to make the workflow pause the task process until a value is deleted in the task item that the approval process is currently running upon.
The following action appears only when you are customizing the Start Approval Process action, click changing the behavior of a single task, and then click inside the Before a Task is Assigned step.
Set Task Field This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as Set Task field to value. Use this action to set a field in the current task item to a value. It can be used on a task that has not been created yet.
The following actions appear only when you are customizing the Start Approval Process action, click changing the behavior of a single task, and then click inside the When a Task is Pending or When a Task Expires.
Rescind Task This action is displayed in workflow steps as then Rescind this task. It completes the task without an outcome.
Append Task This action is displayed in workflow steps as then Append a new task and assign to this user. A new task will be assigned to the user specified in the action, at the end of the current stage in the approval action. If the current stage was Molly;Diane;Oliver, then appending a task to Diane would make it Molly;Diane;Oliver;Diane.
Delegate Task This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as then Delegate this task to this user. The task assigned to the current user is rescinded and the task is then assigned to the new user, irrespective of whether it is a single user or a group.
Escalate Task This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as then Escalate this task to the current assignee’s manager. There are not variables to set for this action. The task is assigned to the manager of the user who is currently assigned the task.
Forward Task This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as then Forward this task to this user. The task assigned to the current user is rescinded and the task is then assigned to the new user. If the new user is a group, and not a single user, then one task is created for each member in the group. This is unlike the Delegate Task action where one task is created even if the user is a group.
Insert Task This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as then Insert a task assigned to this user. It inserts a new stage after the current stage in the approval process where the user specified in the action is the only participant.
Reassign Task This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as then Reassign this task to this user. Reassigns the task to another user.
Request a Change This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as then Request a change of this user. Use this action to request a change from a user and get a new task back to the current user when the change is completed.
Send Task Email

This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as then Email these users. Use this action to include the Edit Task button in the email that is sent to the specific users.

 Note   This action also appears when you click On Task Completed.

Top of Page Top of Page

When should you use the approval and feedback actions?

In Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007, you used task actions in approval scenarios. With pre-built reusable workflows in SharePoint Server 2010, such as Approval - SharePoint 2010 and Collect Feedback – SharePoint 2010, you are probably wondering how they differ from the task actions Start Approval Process and Start Feedback Process. Although both the task actions and the pre-built workflows can be used in collecting feedback and approval scenarios, the pre-built workflows provide a more sophisticated and complete solution.

If the pre-built reusable workflows do not meet your needs, you customize them with SharePoint Designer 2010. If customizing a pre-built workflow to meet your needs will be more work that creating a new workflow, you can leverage the Start Approval Process and Start Feedback Process actions in your workflow. If you want the structure that these actions provide, but not the functionality, you can use the Start Custom Task Process action.

Task actions can be used in a scenario that does not necessarily have to adhere to a larger-scale approval process. For example, sending out reminders to employees to fill out timesheets.

Refer to the following table for the comparative information between task and approval actions:

Feature Task Actions Pre-built Reusable Workflows
Number of users involved in the process A single user or group per task action Multiple users can be involved in multiple assignment stages. An assignment stage enables you to specify two things —if the task process should run in serial or parallel, and the users or task participants to whom the task will be assigned.
Pre-loaded workflow logic Task actions do not have built-in logic. You have to use other actions and conditions to build out an approval or feedback mechanism. These are workflows equipped with in-built logic to give you a start-to-finish approval or feedback experience. You can use the default logic or customize them to meet your needs.
Order in which task is routed to users Parallel order for a group and no order applicable for a single user. Tasks within the workflows can be configured to occur in serial or parallel.
Data binding against task information

Task actions do not come with ready-to-use lookups.

Collect data from a user is an action with an output clause—the data generated at a workflow's run time is stored in the variable in the output clause. You have to then use this variable in the workflow in several different actions to build an approval or feedback scenario on your own.

These workflows take advantage of data sources, making it easier to customize a workflow to meet your needs. Data sources include options such as: Current Item, pre-defined Workflow Variables and Parameters, the context of the current workflow, and Task Results.

For example, to e-mail the person the current task is assigned to , you use the Send an Email action and configure the action to email Current Task: Assigned To

Special features for task participants Task actions do not have any special features for a task participant such as task reassignment or change request. Approval actions can allow a task participant to reassign the task to another user or request a change from the task process owner with just a single click.
Task completion Users have to click Complete Task button to indicate task completion. You can add more meaningful buttons such as Approve and Reject to indicate task outcome in the task completion form.

Top of Page Top of Page

Actions available when the workflow is associated to a document content type

Some workflow actions are only available when the workflow is associated to a library, such as Shared Documents, or the Document content type.

Action Description
Core Actions
Send Document to Repository

This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as Submit File using this action to the destination router with this explanation (Output to Variable: submit file result). It allows you to move or copy the document associated to the list item to a document repository. A document repository can be a library in your SharePoint site, or a site on its own like the Document Center, that routes records to a specific destination based on rules that you define.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step:

Submit File using Move to the Archive:DocumentID Value with The file is ready for archival (Output to Variable: Submit file for archival)

 Note   To be able to define rules and route documents, you have to first enable the Content Organizer site feature in your SharePoint site.

Document Set Actions

Actions in this category are pertinent to a document set. A document set is a folder that stores multiple documents. In a workflow, a document set is treated as a single item.

 Notes 

  • To be able to use a document set in your library, you have to add the Document Set content type from your library settings page in your SharePoint site.
  • Document sets are a feature of SharePoint Server 2010

Find more information about Document sets in the Actions available when your SharePoint site is running Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 section of this article.

List Actions This category of actions performs operations on list items.
Delete Drafts

This action is displayed in workflow steps as Delete all drafts (minor versions) of the item. It deletes the draft or minor versions of the current item, if any. There are not variables to set for this action.

 Note   Versioning with minor versions needs to be enabled on the SharePoint list.

Delete Previous Versions

This action is displayed in workflow steps as Delete all previous versions of this item. It deletes all previous versions of the current item, if any. There are not variables to set for this action.

 Note    Versioning needs to be enabled on the SharePoint list.

Top of Page Top of Page

Actions available within an impersonation step

Some list actions are available only when you click inside an impersonation step in a workflow. Use impersonation steps to have the workflow perform actions by impersonating the workflow author instead of the workflow initiator. Impersonation steps are useful in scenarios such as approval and publishing, where the people submitting content for approval and the people approving content have different permissions. Impersonation steps are also helpful in automating site administrator tasks, such as a workflow automatically assigning permissions to users.

 Notes 

  • The workflow author is the person who last published the workflow.
  • Impersonation steps cannot be nested
Action Description
Add List Item Permissions

This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as Add these permissions to item in list. It grants the permissions of the specific permission levels for an item to specific users.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step:

Add Contribute, Read to item in Images

Inherit List Item Parent Permissions

This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as Inherit parent permissions from item in this list. If your item has unique permissions, you can use this action to make the item inherit the parent permissions from the list.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step:

Inherit parent permissions from item in Images

Remove List Item Permissions

This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as Remove these permissions from item in list. It removes permissions from an item for specific users.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step:

Remove Contribute from item in Images

Replace List Item Permissions

This action is initially displayed in workflow steps as Replace these permissions of item in list. It replaces an item's current permissions with the new permissions that you specify in the action.

Following is an example of what the action might look like in a workflow step:

Replace Read of item in Images

Top of Page Top of Page

Actions within a site workflow

A site workflow operates at a site-level and is not attached to an object such as an item or content type. When you are working inside a site workflow, actions that work on a current item, such as Set Content Approval Status and Set Field in Current Item, will not be available to you. For more information about these conditions, see the General actions section of this article.

Top of Page Top of Page

 
 
Applies to:
SharePoint Designer 2010