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Workflows in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0

Workflow applications have been getting quite a bit of attention inside Microsoft lately. The WinFX® runtime components, to be released in concert with Windows Vista™, add a complete infrastructure—Windows Workflow Foundation—for building workflow-style applications. The workflow infrastructure includes an engine, pluggable components to persist workflow state, and a Visual Studio designer that makes it easy to create custom workflows by dragging and dropping components known as activities onto a workflow design surface.

Windows Sharepoint Services 3.0 builds on top of Windows Workflow Foundation to provide a structure for attaching business logic to list items and documents. It extends the basic workflow model by associating a task list and a history list with each workflow, adding a degree of responsibility and accountability to workflows that are human-oriented, such as a path for reviewing or approving a document.


Both Windows Sharepoint Services and MOSS 2007 ship with workflows that are installed and ready to use. Windows Sharepoint Services 3.0 includes some simple routing workflows for actions such as moderation and approval. MOSS 2007 supplies more complex workflows that support features such as the Web content management approval process.

Creating custom workflows represents an obvious extensibility point for developers building business solutions with Windows Sharepoint Services and MOSS 2007. In addition to the standard support of the Visual Studio extensions for Windows Workflow Foundation, there are plans to ship a Windows Sharepoint Services-specific workflow SDK and a starter kit that includes Visual Studio project templates for creating custom workflows for Windows Sharepoint Services sites.


SharePoint Designer also provides support for creating custom workflows in Windows Sharepoint Services 3.0 sites. This is really targeted at the power user as much or more than developers because it provides a means to step through a wizard and attach business logic to list items and documents in a production site.
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