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Designing an Excel Workflow—Overview

In an Excel Workflow, you can submit a data file (including supporting documents) to a Winshuttle Foundation Data File Library from within Winshuttle Studio's Microsoft Excel add-in. You can even add a data file through another workflow if the required metadata for the Data File is specified in the workflow itself before it is submitted for autopost. Once the data file is reviewed and approved, it can be posted to SAP using the Autopost plugin.

An Excel Workflow will only work when a document is submitted to a Foundation Document Library.

An Excel Workflow has 2 components:

  • Form: Similar to the Form for Form Workflows. You can use metadata to route the workflow or any other required details.
  • Data File: The data you want to post to SAP

When an Excel Workflow is triggered, it creates a form list item similar to a Form Workflow. The form list item knows which Data File the workflow is running on. The data file is linked to the Form list item on the back end.

Known Issue:

If you have deployed two workflow solutions with a different name, to the same data file library, then the data template gets submitted to the default data file library rather than the custom data library.


Submit the Transaction script and data template again to Foundation and associate it with the latest workflow.


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  • Winshuttle Workflow 11.1
  • Winshuttle SAP Integration Server 11.1
  • Winshuttle Foundation 11.1
  • Winshuttle LMS 11.1
  • Winshuttle Studio 11
  • Winshuttle Composer

In addition

  • SVService should be running for SVService job type ‘linkeddatafileformprocess’.
  • The Process Controlled Form List feature must be activated for the Foundation site (see below).

Activating the Process Controlled Form List Feature

This feature is activated automatically as soon as the Workflow Central administration site is associated in Winshuttle Foundation Site.

Activating this feature creates a standard document library with name Forms.

Note: To see assigned tasks for an Excel Workflow and Designer Document Workflows in Studio’s Excel Add-in, Workflow Admin site URL must also be added in Winshuttle Foundation under Workflow Configuration.

  1. Open your Foundation site.
  2. Open Site Settings.
  3. Click Manage Site Features.
  4. Next to Winshuttle Process Controlled Form List Feature, click Activate.

Designing an Excel Workflow

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  1. In Composer, open the main menu and then click New.
  2. Click Solution Wizard.

    Composer New Solution Wizard screen

  3. In the New Solution Wizard dialog box, under Name, type a name for the solution. (*Required)
  4. Select Excel Workflow: Create an Excel-based Workflow in Winshuttle Composer. Excel-based workflows and their associated tasks are handled entirely through Microsoft Excel.
  5. In the Foundation Site field, select a Foundation site from the menu, or type the URL to your Foundation site. This will be used for the SharePoint Site element property.
  6. In the Data File Library field, select a SharePoint data file library from the drop down. (Or, you can choose Create a New Site to create a new one.) Note:
    • Data File Libraries of the type ‘Foundation Data File Document Library’ are populated in this property.
    • You can select the ‘Data File Sync Columns’ if you want to route the workflow based on a cell value in the data file. (For more information, see Using Data File Sync columns, below.)
  7. Click Next.

    Note: Swim Lanes, Data Connections, Field Packs, and Scripts/Web Services can all be created later if you do not wish to specify them now.

  8. Swim Lanes(optional).
    Under Swim Lanes, click Add. Select the Type, Role, and then type a name for the Swim Lane. See Working with Swim Lanes for more information. Click Next.
  9. Data Connections (optional).
    Click Add to Add Data Connections. See Adding Data Connections for instructions on how to add different types of data connections. Click Next.
  10. Scripts/Web Services (optional).
    Click Add to add Transaction or Query scripts. See Importing Transaction/Query scripts for more information.
  11. Click Finish.
  12. Publish the Workflow.
  13. If you need to publish the same Excel Workflow on multiple Data File libraries, rename the Excel Workflow solution, change the Data File library, and then publish the workflow. (See Republishing Excel Workflow solutions, below.)

Now whenever a Data File is added in the library specified in the Data File Library property, the Excel Workflow will start automatically.

See Design Considerations (below) for special information on how certain nodes, properties, and plugins behave in Excel Workflows.

Important notes

  • For an Excel Workflow to start automatically, SVService should be running for the SVService job type ‘linkeddatafileformprocess’.
  • An Excel Workflow is triggered only if the data type for the submitted data file is datafiledoc.

Tasks related to an Excel Workflow can be completed from a supported Web browser, the Winshuttle Studio Microsoft Excel add-in, or using email.

Republishing Excel Workflow solutions

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If you want to re-publish a workflow with different parameters (for example, if you want to the same workflow but wish to change the document library it is using), then you must rename the workflow.

If the Workflow is republished as the same name, then only the latest published Workflow definition will be active. For example, if the Data File Library is changed and then the workflow is re-published, the workflow will only trigger if the data file is submitted in the newly specified data file library.

Workflows that were in-progress before republishing the workflow solution will continue to work as per the old Workflow definition.

In order to publish the same Excel Workflow on multiple Data File libraries, rename the Excel Workflow solution, change the Data File library and publish the workflow.

Completing Excel Workflow tasks

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Completing tasks from a Web browser

  1. Open the task in your Web browser:
    • Go to the Workflow Task Tab in Foundation Site.
    • Go to the Workflow Web Part’s Dashboard
  2. Click on the task.
  3. The Form view specified for the task will open. You can complete the task the same way you would complete any Form Workflow task.

Completing tasks from Winshuttle Studio’s Microsoft Excel add-in

You can see the tasks from ‘My tasks’ or after opening the data file. After selecting the task to complete, the task can be completed within Winshuttle Studio (i.e. without opening the browser).

Note: You cannot see the form view while completing tasks within Winshuttle Studio. If you want to refer to the form view, the task must be opened in a Web browser.

Completing tasks via email

You can also complete a task through an email notification. The notification will contain the task and the form (as an *.mht file). For more information, see this article.

Note that to use this method of task completion, the EmailApproval property for the activity/approval node should be set to True.

Design considerations: Node, property, and plugin behaviors

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Some nodes, form element properties, and plugins behave slightly differently in an Excel Workflow. See below for more information.

Using Data File Sync Columns

All Columns (except SharePoint default Read-only columns) are populated in the Data File Sync Columns dropdown for the selected Data File Library specified in the Data File Library property. One or more columns can be selected from this dropdown.

Fields corresponding to selected columns are automatically added in Form’s field schema in group named DataFileColumnsSync.

These fields will sync the latest value(s) from the columns in the Data File Library. However, if the values of these fields are changed in the form, the values are not automatically updated in the Data File Library columns. You will need to use the Set Column Plugin and set UseLinkedDocument = Yes (see below).

You can also drag the fields corresponding to selected Sync Columns in the form view to view the values of the Data File Library columns for the linked Data File in the form view.

Note: These fields are not promoted to the form list item, but you can use the existing functionality of promote column for this purpose.

Data File Sync Columns can be helpful in a variety of situations. For example:

  • The fields corresponding to sync columns can be used to route a workflow based on a value in the Data File. These fields can be used to route the workflow immediately after the start node.
  • If an Approver only needs certain fields to approve or reject something, the fields can be synced and shown on the form UI and the Approver won’t need to open the data file. In addition, the Approver can approve tasks via email after seeing the decision fields in the *.mht file of the form view attached in email.
  • Fields corresponding to sync columns can be used in participant resolvers.

Element Property behaviors for Excel Workflows

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When designing an Excel Workflow in Winshuttle Composer, be aware of the following Workflow Node property behaviors and how they may impact your workflow.

Node: Property: Challenge on Approval

By default, value of this property is False. If set to True, it is mandatory to specify the credentials before completing the task in the workflow.

Note: This property is supported only in a browser, i.e. when a form is being interacted with via Web Browser.

Node Property: Require Review

  • This property requires a user to open a data file before its associated task can be completed.
  • On Activity and Approval Nodes, this is not supported for FormEx Workflows.
  • Default value: False

Node Property: Challenge on Approval

  • Supported in Excel Workflows.
  • It is supported only in a browser, i.e. when a form is being interacted with via Web Browser.
  • Default Value: False

Node Property: Allow Reassignment

  • Supported in Excel Workflows.
  • Applies to Activity and Approval nodes.
  • Default Value: True

Node Property: Allow Replacement

  • Applies to Activity and Approval nodes
  • Disabled by default. It is enabled when the user selects a Data File Library
  • Default value: False

Control behavior for Excel Workflows

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Form Element: File URL Control

2 new parameters have been added to this element to work with Excel Workflows: Show Data File Field, and Show Supporting Document Field.

  • Show Data File Field displays the document URL in the field specified in this property.
  • Show Supporting Document Field displays the Supporting Document URL in the field specified in this property.
  • Clicking on a data file or supporting document URL downloads the document.

plugin behavior for Excel Workflows

The following plugins include certain enhancements to support Excel Workflows. See below for a brief description of each.


Autopost automatically works on the linked document and will ignore the CentralSiteURL property.

See Autopost plugin properties for more information.

Copy Document

  • The Workflow will check for a linked document that is associated with the process. If a linked document is found, it will be copied.
  • For a document workflow, the Copy Document plugin will copy the document to the library where the Document workflow is running.

See Copy Document plugin properties for more information.

Remove Item Permissions

Permissions are removed from both the form list item and the linked document if there are no other properties (for example, site, list, item id, folder, filepath) specified in the plugin properties.

See Remove Item Permission plugin properties for more information.

Rename Document

  • If the fileurl parameter and name is specified, the Rename Document plugin will rename the document at the specified URL.
  • If the fileurl parameter is not specified, the workflow will check for a linked document associated with the form process. If one is found, then the plugin will rename the linked document. Otherwise, the plugin will try to rename the document associated with the current document list item.

See Rename Document for more information.

Set Column

  • A new parameter has been added to this plugin for use with Excel workflows: UseLinkedDocument
  • If UseLinkedDocument is set to Yes, the value will be set in the specified column for the linked document in the data file library.
  • If UseLinkedDocument is set to No, its behavior is as follows:
    • If site, list, and query are specified, then the column value is set at the specified list.
    • If site, list, and query are not specified, then the columns value is set for the current list item.

See Set Column plugin properties for more information.

Set Item Permissions

Permissions are applied to both the form list item and the linked document if no other properties (for example, site, list, item id, folder, filepath) are specified in the plugin properties.

See Set Item Permission plugin properties for more information.