Extend SharePoint Designer’s workflow activities

SharePoint Designer 2007 is a useful tool for performing quick tasks in your SharePoint environment. It’s moreorless Frontpage on steroids, but it’s designed to interact directly with SharePoint installations. I’ve used it almost exclusively to create simple workflows – simple being the operative word. And what’s more, it’s now free! You’ll need the likes of Visual Studio to do anything complex, but for every day use where you don’t want to worry about packaging up solutions and features and getting involved with stsadm, SharePoint Designer definitely has its place.

However, it is rather letdown by some of the activities you can use when designing workflows. However, you’re free to create your own custom activities, and, step-up Codeplex and the SPDActivities project which has already got the ball rolling. This is a superb project that adds some much needed functionality to SharePoint designer’s workflows. The two key features for me were being able to send an email with the attachments of a list item attached to it, and the ability to lookup user info. No longer do you have to address emails to DOMAINUsername – get their friendly name from your catalog!

Well worth a look at all the features. I installed it on my test environment, and then in to live with no problems at all – and it’s really enhanced SharePoint Designer’s usefulness for getting the quick jobs done.

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