Workflows in SharePoint 2013

SharePoint 2013 comes with two SharePoint workflow platforms (SharePoint 2010 Workflow platform and SharePoint 2013 workflow platform)

SharePoint 2010 Workflow engine is installed automatically with SharePoint 2013 and this engine allows the workflows were built using SharePoint 2010 to continue working on SharePoint 2013. With SharePoint 2010 workflow platform you will have the same experience with building workflows on SharePoint 2010.

You can have the features of SharePoint 2013 workflow platform when you install and configure Windows Azure Workflow service.

SharePoint 2013 workflow platform includes these new features:

  • A visual workflow development experience in SharePoint designer 15
  • A new action to call web services
  • New actions to start another workflows (the ability to work like an orchestrator)
  • New workflow building blocks such as Stage, Loop and App Step

Workflows built using Windows Azure workflow can take advantage of several new capabilities

  • High density
  • Elastic scale
  • Tracking and monitoring
  • Managed service reliability

Read more

Note: this article is based on SharePoint 2013 Preview and there might be some changes on the release version

SharePoint 2013 Workflows Platform Type


Using SharePoint designer 15 you can develop workflows that’s identical to SharePoint designer 2010 workflows or target the new workflows in SharePoint 2013. This is dependent on the platform type you choose when you create your workflow (see the following screen shot).


Sometimes when you try to choose the platform type you will see only SharePoint 2010 workflow option. to be able to use SharePoint 15 Workflow option you will need to have Windows Azure workflow installed and configured.

Theses are helpful resources

Creating a workflow by using SharePoint Designer 2013 and the SharePoint 2013 Workflow platform
How to: Set up and configure SharePoint 2013 workflows


How to retrieve Users Manager in SharePoint Designer Workflows

SharePoint Designer 2010 facilitates the creation of SharePoint workflows for Power Users using very intuitive user interface and a set of ready-made actions (which can be extended).

One of the useful actions available is “Lookup Manager of a user”

2012-01-17-RetrieveUsersManager-01.png explains the functionality of this activity as follows

“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)”

To use this action

  1. Insert it into SharePoint designer from the “Action” menu2012-01-17-RetrieveUsersManager-02.png
  2. Click on “this user ” to select the target user who we need to find his/her manager
  3. From “Select Users” dialog you can choose a user by name or from a Group or the user who created the current item.
  4. After selecting the looked-for user, the action configuration is ready and you can use the manager name from the output variable “manager”

Final configuration of the action


Another option to retrieve the user’s manager is from the user profiles.

For example in the “Start Approval Process” action when you configure the participants, Select “Workflow Lookup for a User…”


Then Select the following fields:

Data source: User Profiles
Field from source: Manager
Field: Account Name
Value Current Item:Created By


By using this method you will be able to get the manager of the user who created the current item where the workflow will be applied and he will be assigned the approval task.