Introduction to Microsoft SharePoint Designer

Mythili Ranganathan
SharePoint Architect in a CMM Level 5 Company
Published On :   10 Mar 2014
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It is formerly called as Microsoft SharePoint Designer, which is specialised HTML editor and web design freeware for creating or modifying Microsoft SharePoint sites, workflows and web pages. Earlier it was part of Office 2007 and now it is out of office suite.

SharePoint Designer and its sister product, Microsoft Expression Web are successors of Microsoft FrontPage. While Expression Web serves as the full-featured successor to FrontPage, SharePoint Designer focuses on designing and customizing Microsoft SharePoint websites. For instance, it only includes SharePoint-specific site templates

· SharePoint Designer 2007 was initially a commercial software product. On March 31, 2009, however, SharePoint Designer 2007 was made available as a freeware.

· On April 21, 2010, SharePoint Designer 2010 was released and made available for download.

· On October 30, 2012, Microsoft released SharePoint Designer 2013.

SharePoint Designer shares its codebase, UI and HTML rendering engine with Expression Web, and does not rely on Internet Explorer's Trident engine. It features a workflow designer that allows users of SharePoint to create workflow so that workflow can automate the process with the concept and objects such as list item, content type, and list column within SharePoint server. Starting from SharePoint 2013, it provides text-based designer and visual designer for non-developer users.

Now let us see the depreciated features of SharePoint 2010 and the new features of SharePoint 2013.

I. Features:

The following features are deprecated in SharePoint Designer 2013 or have been removed.

1. SharePoint 2010 Workflow platform

SharePoint 2013 uses SharePoint 2013 Workflow platform that is built upon Windows Workflow Foundation 4.0 and that is integrated with Workflow Manager 1.0. As SharePoint 2010 is built on WWF3.0, and features dependant on WWF 3.0 are depreciated.

To migrate the 2010 workflows, we can create a SharePoint 2010 Workflow and use all of the SharePoint 2010 Workflow features by choosing the SharePoint 2010 Workflow platform.

The following features are available only on the SharePoint 2010 Workflow platform:


o Stop Workflow

o Capture a Version of the Document Set

o Send Document Set to Repository

o Set Content Approval Status for the Document Set

o Start Document Set Approval Process

o Declare Record

o Set Content Approval Status

o Undeclared Record

o Add List Item

o Inherit List Item Parent Permissions

o Remove List Item Permissions

o Replace List Item Permissions

o Lookup Manager of a User

o Assign a Form to a Group

o Assign a To-Do Item

o Collect Data from a User

o Start Approval Process

o Start Custom Task Process

o Start Feedback Process

o Copy List Item (SharePoint Designer 2013 supports only the document-copying action.)

· Conditions:

o If current item field equals value

o Check list item permission levels

o Check list item permissions

· Steps:

o Impersonation Step:

· Data sources:

o User Profile lookup

· Other features:

o Visio integration

o Association Column

o Content Type Association for reusable workflow

o 'Require Manage List/Web Permission' feature for list/site workflow

o Globally reusable workflow type

o Workflow visualization option

SharePoint page-design features

Design view and Split view

II. What’s New in SPD2013

1. Platform Type:

SharePoint Designer 2013 you have the option of choosing the platform, we can select SharePoint 2010 Workflow or SharePoint 2013 workflow.

Workflows – There are two kinds of Workflows that you can create in Designer.

List Workflow: Used to start a workflow developed for a specific list.

Site Workflow: Used to start a workflow developed for the site

2. Features:

1) Workflows can be created based on the new .Net 4.x Workflow Infrastructure

2) Tight integration with Stages: - Workflows need not be in Serial, now it is state based, where your workflow can jump into any stages.

3) Visual Designer: - New design which integrates the Vision canvas right into SharePoint designer. These workflows can be created using click and drag. It supports to set the properties of every action.

4) Copy and Paste – We can Cut, Copy and Paste within the Text Based designer.

5) Loops! - Fully integrated action which you can use within all 2013 Workflows

6) Call Web Service Action - we can call Rest/HTTP web services right from within SharePoint 2013 workflows.

7) Start Workflow Actions -. We now have an action that lets you spawn up old 2010 workflows right from within a 2013 workflow. We can take advantage of any 2010 workflow functionality.

8) Packaging: - individual workflows can be packaged straight from within SPD

9) Dictionary Type Variables, we can create variables which can hold array of values.

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