Kanithi's Professional Blog

April 5, 2011

My Experience with Visio Services/Workflow Visualization

Filed under: SharePoint 2010 — Veera Kanithi @ 10:00 pm

Here are my findings or thoughts on SharePoint Workflow with Visio Visualization so far…

Visio Graphics Service

SharePoint 2010 now offers Workflow Visualization using Visio 2010 and Visio Services. Before starting on using Visualization, you must have the Visio Graphics Service proxy running in the Farm, Otherwise you may see the error “There are no addresses available for this application.” as shown below

image

Some times even if you Start the Visio Services, you may see the above error, either have patience till worker process gets recycled or simple IISRESET on the server would work.

Visio 2010 Premium

Visio 2010 Premium has SharePoint stencils to create a simple SharePoint workflow, but this can only create basic flow and can not publish directly to SharePoint. Once you are done with Workflow you must Export to a VWI (Visio Workflow Interchange) file to further process in SharePoint designer as shown below.

image           image                    image

Using Visio Premium is not necessary to create Workflow Visualization as SharePoint designer is the utility that does create final diagram, however Its always best practice to use Visio first to have a skeleton of process if available.

Visio Workflow Interchange

What does VWI file contains, its basically like any other MS office file, its a ZIP file containing VDX(Visio Drawing), XOML (Main Workflow File), XOML.RULES(Stores all conditions and rules), XOML.WFCONFIG.XML(Configuration File). At this point XOML will only contains the basic flow. All these files will be used when you import the VWI to SharePoint designer. Take a look at any saved VWI file by adding .ZIP at the end.

image

If you see carefully VDX is the final file that will be displayed in the SharePoint site under Workflow Visualization

SharePoint Designer 2010

Once you have the VWI file, you need to import it using image

Now you can Edit the Workflow, here all the you might see various Steps and some Activities based on your Visio workflow. Most of the Activities in Visio will be converted as Activity holder with description of what that should do. These descriptions are very useful in the final diagram it creates as shown below.

image   –>  image

All these descriptions are stored as “ShapeText” under Description Attribute of the Element in XOML file. So if in any case, you have to add more descriptions in SharePoint designer, unfortunately you have to change the XOML file.

So what ever the changes you will make in the SPD, it will create a new VDX file (Visio Diagram). To do this you must set the Workflow property “Show workflow visualization on status page” and Visio Graphics Service running.

image

Changing workflow XML files

Workflow specific files such as XOML, XOML.RULES, xoml.wfconfig.xml can be changed from SPD but have to be careful.

You can always what are the files stored under the workflow from All Files section as shown below

image

XOML.WFCONFIG.XML file is the configuration file that contains configuration information about the workflow, like references to all XML files with version. When ever you change any of these XML file a new version will be created automatically. If you make any modifications in XOML  of V1.0, then your changes will be stored in server as V2.0, but the configuration file still refers the old XOML file unless you change it.

You might see this error “Visio Services was unable to load this Web Drawing……..” if the config xml is referring to the XOML version which is not available in the server.

image

One more important thing to consider when you are making changes to XOML file, SharePoint designer caches workflow data, so if you change the XOML file and open back in SPD it will not show your modifications unless you close the Site and re open it.

Understanding Configuration file (xoml.wfconfig.xml)

Here are the important attributes of the Config xml file

XomlHref : XOML File Name; XomlVersion: Version of the XOML file; RulesHref: XOML.RULES file; RulesVersion: Version of the Rules File; PreviewVersion: Current Visio Diagram Version; PreviewHref: Visio Diagram;

Note: Check this article on how to move the Workflow between lists

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