In SharePoint 2013 it is now possible to create code free workflows. There are quite a few articles about how to install workflow manager 1.0. For a step by step guide see this article about how to Configure Worfklow Manager

Once workflow manager is installed and SharePoint Designer recognizes 2013 Workflows, there is still an improvement to be made.

Install on the machine running SharePoint Designer also Visio 2013.

Workflow Designer

In SharePoint Designer you will now have the option for Workflow Designer available. Within no time you will now be able to create new workflows. No need to type in Action names anymore. simply drag ‘n drop and configure.


So is this all good?

Well it’s a good step forward at least. So far I have found the main issue with these Visual Design Workflows that the error handling isn’t great. It’s still very SharePoint like. If something doesn’t work look through the SharePoint logs (I use ULS viewer for this).

So as long as you run ULS viewer while you run workflows then you’re fine. In development this is fine of course, but in production you might have to build in many extra checks.

When I first started with these workflows I simply tried to update a history list and I wasn’t able to do this as my document wasn’t checked out. I got some messages in the ULS logs and a workflow that had failed. Of course there was also an error message on the workflow but that didn’t help me much.


RequestorId: 8ac816a3-5828-72d5-a7c0-362dc3abeee0. Details: System.ApplicationException: HTTP 500 {“Transfer-Encoding”:[“chunked”],”X-SharePointHealthScore”:[“0″],”SPClientServiceRequestDuration”:[“106″],”SPRequestGuid”:[“524714b2-9bd7-44fe-b1cd-284eaa3b446c”],”request-id”:[“524714b2-9bd7-44fe-b1cd-284eaa3b446c”],”X-FRAME-OPTIONS”:[“SAMEORIGIN”],”MicrosoftSharePointTeamServices”:[“″],”X-Content-Type-Options”:[“nosniff”],”X-MS-InvokeApp”:[“1; RequireReadOnly”],”Cache-Control”:[“max-age=0, private”],”Date”:[“Mon, 17 Mar 2014 10:18:06 GMT”],”Server”:[“Microsoft-IIS\/8.0″],”X-AspNet-Version”:[“4.0.30319″],”X-Powered-By”:[“ASP.NET”]}   at Microsoft.Activities.Hosting.Runtime.Subroutine.SubroutineChild.Execute(CodeActivityContext context)   at System.Activities.CodeActivity.InternalExecute(ActivityInstance instance, ActivityExecutor executor, BookmarkManager bookmarkManager)   at System.Activities.Runtime.ActivityExecutor.ExecuteActivityWorkItem.ExecuteBody(ActivityExecutor executor, BookmarkManager bookmarkManager, Location resultLocation)

In the SharePoint logs this matches up with:

The file “http:/ /test.mydev.local/Documents/test1315555.rtf” is not checked out.  You must first check out this document before making changes.

But how is this possible my first step in the workflow is checkout the item?

Of course the workflow is try to update the item with the workflow status when it starts the workflow.

So I disabled the “Automatically update the workflow status to the current stage name” in my workflow settings. The alternative would be to remove checkout/checkin from my library, but that’s a requirement that I can’t change.

All I now need to do is update my workflow and set the status of the workflow manually.


  • Error handling is very much missing in the worklfows.
  • the new interface does make it easier to create/update workflows
Avatar for Pieter Veenstra

By Pieter Veenstra

Business Applications Microsoft MVP working as a Principal Architect at HybrIT Services Ltd. You can contact me using

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