SharePoint Designer Workflow Tasks and InfoPath 2010

This post applies to SharePoint enterprise version and Office 365.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article for the The Microsoft MVP Award Program Blog.  Some of you may have heard my rants about how keeping the approval process inside InfoPath is a better method than assigning task through workflows, because then your data is all over the place.  In this article, I show step by step how you can still assign task from a workflow and keep the user interface simple by inserting the form’s fields into the task form itself.  There are various permutations of creating an approval process in SharePoint, and this is just one of them.

MVPs for Office 365: SharePoint Designer Workflow Tasks and InfoPath 2010

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Here is a screenshot of the end result.  You can see that you’re still on the task form, but all of the pertinent fields from the original for are also right there, so that end users don’t have two different places to go.

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23 comments

  • FYI – All the image links are dead on the article page. (and why do I have to manually fill in the date for this comment?)

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  • Keith, All the images are appearing fine to everyone else. The domain where the images are stored must be blocked on your firewall. You have to type a date so spammer comments don’t appear in here.

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  • Thanks Laura. Not wanting users to have to go to multiple places is precisely the reason why I haven’t used these workflows up to now. With this idea I may give it a shot again…

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  • I fan of you, a very nice post, but i am new in sharepoint, so can you give me detail article (step by step) , so this will be very helpful to me. Thanks in advance. You also mail me at sagar.m.mantri@gmail.com

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  • Sagar, The link to the detail article step by step is right in this blog post.

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  • Laura, will you marry me?

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  • Wow! My workflow was so much more complicated than this, and several users were not so happy about going multiple places to approve/reject. This is like a one stop shop. Very nicely done. Can this be done in SharePoint 2007? This would be a very good exercise that hopefully will be included in your upcoming book on SP2010 Workflows and InfoPath. Can’t wait to read it!

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  • Hi. Thanks for your post. I tried to follow your instructions and customise a workflow form I created using SharePoint Designer. It is not a customization to approval workflow. However, as you suggested in Step 20 (using Substring-after function), I cannot see the Related Content filed (sorry for this lame question.) When I choose Substring-after function, it inserts “substring-after(double click to insert field, double click to insert field)” function. Then I am stranded as I do not see the Related Content field or does not know how to included the URL for the item here. It throws an error even when I try to include the URL manually. Please guide as to how can I get the Item info on a workflow task form. TIA

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  • Leo, Glad you like it! No, it can’t be done in 2007. No, I didn’t put it in the book, since I already blogged about it and all the steps you need are right there. 😉 I did write a chapter about customizing workflow initiation and task forms though. Hareesh, Just type substring-after instead of selecting it from the list of functions, and then use the button to insert a field. Related content is one of the fields in the task list.

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  • To expand on #27 in the linked article, let’s say you need more than just the Approval – the Approver is required to add additional info to the list, like a Cost Center or Code. Can you create another data connection for the Approver.xsn form to submit additional data such that the list is updated with the additional data and the next Approver can see that info as well-presumably in the next Approver(20.xsn form? or would you draw the line and just require them to open the orginal item and update it? It seems you get more flexibility in using the workflow task because you can reassign the task if necessary as opposed to using your preferred method of keeping the entire Approval process within an InfoPath form. …and kudos on your new InfoPath book. It has been very helpful.

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  • George, You could add a new task field, but then the data would only live in the task list. Then you could create a workflow, but I’ve found workflows on task lists to be not so reliable. I think the best option is to make them open up that original form and fill in the field there.

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  • Hi Laura, I tried many times by following step by step. But the expenses total which I assigned as calculated field appeared to be wrong amount. Any reason why?

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  • Hi Sarah,
    Sorry but from what you’ve said, I don’t have any way of knowing what the problem in the formula is. One way to troubleshoot is to put every single field on the form, so that you can see all the numbers that it’s returning, so when you look at the calculation results you’ll have better insight as to why you’re getting those results.

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  • Hi Laura

    I’m trying to do this on a Collect Data form, but the WorkFlowLink, “Related Content”, property is missing.

    How would I get at the ID of the of the item?

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  • Arthur,
    Sorry, I’ve never seen that field missing, so I’m not sure how you’d get that value otherwise? What version are you on?

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  • I want to know that from your example which Data Connection that you find the field “Related Content”?

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  • Mike,
    The related content field is in the task list, and it’s hidden. It gets populated when you assign a task via workflow.

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  • Hi laura,
    I have backed up and Restore site collection using Database dittach attach method. I have restored this on new server and new site collection.
    I got running instances of SharePoint Designer Workflows. I have used ‘Start Custom Task Process’ in my workflow using which task content types with infoapath gets generated along with the tasks.
    Issue with this is after restoring site, if we move running SPD workflows to next level, The ‘Related content link’ of the new task is still pointing to previous web application (from where we took backup).
    This issue comes up only for running instances of workflow and with new tasks. All previous tasks ‘Related Content’ column gets updated with new web appliction url.
    Is there any way we can fix this issue besides writing custom code to set this column value to point to new web application

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  • Hi Yogesh,
    I’m not sure of a way other than to kill the existing ones and start them over fresh. This could be a dev or PowerShell thing, not sure. That’s one of the reasons that task processes are a pet peeve of mine. 😉

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  • Hi Laura,
    I’d like to customize the input form like you explained in your article on MVP Blog. But my form isn’t a pure “task” form, it appears clicking on a task because in my workflow there is an instruction “Collect data from…”. My problem is that I can’t find the related content field there. Can you help me?

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  • Hi Mauro,
    Sorry, but I usually try to avoid those old task actions like “collect data from” because they’re proprietary and you really can’t do much else with them other than what they do out of box.

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  • Hi Laura,
    Thanks for this post. I am quite new to creating approval workflows in sharepoint and I must say I have benefited GREATLY from your blog posts and youtube videos.
    You mentioned in this post that “There are various permutations of creating an approval process in SharePoint”. I would like to know what other permutations are there apart from (a) doing everything in infopath and (b) assigning tasks using SharePoint designer?

    Thanks,

    Don Piston.

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