So you've already heard what sets Workflow Conductor apart from SharePoint's out-of-the-box workflows and from SharePoint Designer workflows, but you say you just can't rest until you find out how it compares to Visual Studio workflows? Well, you can relax now. We've got just the thing for that. Let's talk about...
Visual Studio Workflows
This post brings us to Microsoft's most powerful offering, Visual Studio. If SharePoint Designer is limited, Visual Studio is limitless (or at least much, much less limited). If you can think it up, you can probably do it with Visual Studio. Much like Workflow Conductor, Visual Studio leverages Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) to create native SharePoint workflows. It also has a nice drag-and-drop, flowchart style interface. If it sounds perfect so far, it's because we haven't talked about how you can do all these great things in Studio.
In software, more power often means more complexity, and that is certainly the case here. Remember when I said "If you can think it up, you can probably do it", I really meant a team of developers could do it. Everything about using Visual Studio means writing code, and lots of it. Want to create a simple workflow? You're going to need programmers. Want to update an existing workflow? Yup. More programming. And, keep in mind that custom software maintenance almost always costs more in the long run than the initial creation. Why pay your engineers to build everything from scratch, when ours have already done the work, and you can leverage it for a fraction of the cost of building in house?
If the time and expense of that isn't enough to turn you off, keep in mind that your programmers are not usually the ones that best understand the business processes you want to automate. Those are your power users, and if they aren't involved enough, you might not end up with a working automation when you're done. You can also spend more time and money doing the automation than you were trying to save in the first place. Wouldn't it be nice if you could just let your power users create the workflows themselves?
Well, meet "Workflow Conductor". It gives you the simple drag-and-drop layout of Visual Studio, but without all of the coding. It provides you with easily-configured activities that power users can leverage to create workflows and automate processes on their own. And when you inevitably have to make changes down the road when a process changes? Workflow Conductor makes it easy for the next user to see what was built and make the required changes.
Using Workflow Conductor means less time and money spent doing the automation, and more saved enjoying it. You get powerful features based on the same underlying technology, but our engineers have already done the hard part. You just drag, drop, configure, and deploy. Don't forget, Workflow Conductor doesn't just build and deploy workflows, you also get all of the extras, like improved workflow management and reporting in SharePoint, and custom Web parts for admins and users. Here are what I consider to be the...
High-level advantages of Workflow Conductor over SharePoint Designer:
- Drag-and-drop workflow designer for power users with no coding
- Simple lookups, references, and variables with no coding
- Pre-built activities to handle simple to complex with no coding
- External data connectivity with no coding (are you sensing a theme here?)
- Improved workflow reporting and centralized management
- Simple workflow deployment
So, are you ready to start automating the easy way yet? If so, download your free 30-day trial copy now, and take it for a test drive.
Score all three rounds of the bout between Workflow Conductor and Microsoft's workflow offerings in SharePoint:
May 13 2010, 09:00 AM
Filed under: Visual Studio, SharePoint Designer, Feature Comparison, Workflow Widget, Workflow Designer, Workflow Conductor, Reuse Workflow, External Data Source, Workflow Management, Workflow Logic, SharePoint Workflows
Jeff Tubb is Principal Product Manager for Bamboo's Tools and Technologies Group, which focuses on new services and technolgy platforms for SharePoint, including Bamboo's Workflow Conductor, MashPoint, and Cloud Parts products.