SharePoint Designer 2010 workflow types

Learn what kind of workflows you can create with SharePoint Designer 2010 and when you should use which type of workflow.

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SharePoint Designer 2010 allows you to create 3 types of workflows:

  1. List
  2. Reusable
  3. Site

Each type of SharePoint Designer 2010 workflow offers an increasing degree of disentanglement of workflows with SharePoint lists or libraries.

List workflows are the most tightly coupled to SharePoint lists or libraries, while Site workflows are not at all coupled to SharePoint lists or libraries.

Reusable workflows lie somewhere in between by allowing you to associate a workflow to many SharePoint lists or libraries, instead of just one as is the case with List workflows.

But fact remains that a Reusable workflow is always based on a content type that - except for when you select the All option – must be added to a SharePoint list or library before you can add the Reusable workflow to the SharePoint list or library, and an item or document of the appropriate content type (or a content type that inherits from that content type) must be created before you can run the Reusable workflow on that item or document.

Reusable workflows are similar to the out-of-the-box workflows that come with SharePoint, and List workflows are similar to the type of workflows you were able to create with SharePoint Designer 2007. Unlike List workflows, you can publish Reusable workflows globally so that the workflow becomes available to all sites in the SharePoint site collection.

When to use which type of workflow?

Use a List workflow if you do not have the need to share the workflow between SharePoint lists or libraries on a site.

Use a Reusable workflow if you want or may want to use the workflow on multiple SharePoint lists or libraries on the same SharePoint site. Create a Reusable workflow in the top-level site in the site collection and publish it globally if you want to use it on multiple SharePoint lists or libraries on multiple sites within a SharePoint site collection.

Use a Site workflow if you want a workflow to run independently of any SharePoint list or library on a SharePoint site.

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