Big bomb land from Microsoft in July 2020 about usage of SharePoint Designer in Office 365.
Microsoft plans to retire all classic SharePoint Designer workflows in quite the short term for SharePoint Online.
SharePoint Designer is a client app that remembers old on-premise times. It could be used for the customizations ande setup of workflows for SharePoint Server located in your datacenter or for work with classic SharePoint Online sites in Office 365.
Classic SharePoint Designer workflows are relict of old, on-premise based times. In the past when most of the companies used SharePoint Servers to build internal collaboration spaces SharePoint Workflows 2010 was a crucial part of digital transformation. When collaboration moved to the cloud support for SharePoint workflows was continued At the same time Microsoft introduces modern process automation solution Power Automate (called Flow in the past.)
A few days ago Microsoft announced that will discontinue support for the workflows created using SharePoint Designer on SharePoint Online. A decision like that was just a matter of time, but no one expects it will happen so fast and with so short timeline.
How to use SharePoint Designer 2013 with SharePoint Server 2013, 2016 and 2019
You will need to use SharePoint Designer app to analyze the workflows created on SharePoint Server on-premise.
SharePoint Designer is a free Microsoft application available on the below editions:
- SharePoint Designer 2010 – supported for SharePoint Server 2010
- SharePoint Designer 2013 – supported for SharePoint Server 2013, SharePoint Server 2016 and SharePoint Server 2019
There are no editions of SharePoint Designer 2016 or SharePoint Designer 2019. The tool is discontinued and the last edition is 2013.
On the server level, you can find two editions of the SharePoint workflows:
- SharePoint 2010 Workflow
- SharePoint 2013 Workflow
You should use SharePoint Designer 2013 to edit both versions of the workflows.
Is there SharePoint Designer 2016 or SharePoint Designer 2019
No ? SharePoint Designer 2013 is the last version of this application. It is still supported for the modest SharePoint instances.
How to install SharePoint Designer 2013
SharePoint Designer 2013 is the client application you need to install on your PC.
1. On the Microsoft site choose Download button. In the new windows select proper version of the SharePointDesigner edition. It should be the same edition (32 bits / 64bits) your Office suite is. Select it and go for Next.
You will start downloading the sharepointdesigner_64bit.exe – SharePoint Designer 2013 installation pack.
2. Execute downloaded SharePoint Designer 2013 64-bits installer with admin rights using Run as administrator option.
4. In the next step you will be able to start the installation of SharePoint Designer using Install Now button.
After few minutes SharePoint Designer will be installed.
How to use SharePoint Designer 2013
To start using SharePoint Designer 2013 on your PC to analyze workflows on SharePoint Server 2013, SharePoint Server 2016 or SharePoint Server 2019 just execute the app and select the Open Site button.
In the next step, you will need to put the address of your local SharePoint site and choose the Open button.
You will be asked to authenticate using your login and password.
When SharePoint Designer 2013 will present the SharePoint site structure you will be able to review the workflows in the Workflows tab.
I hope shared knowledge will help you to be better prepared for the retirement of the classic SharePoint Designer workflows in the Office 365.
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SharePoint Worfklows 2010 & 2013 retirement timeline
Microsoft announced that the existence of classic SharePoint 2010 Workflows & SharePoint 2013 Workflows will end on SharePoint Online in Office 365. There are no changes for SharePoint Servers hosted on-premise.
SharePoint Designer 2010 workflows retirement timeline:
- Since August 1st, 2020, SharePoint 2010 workflows will be turned off for newly created tenants.
- Since November 1st, 2020, Microsoft will begin to remove the ability to run or create SharePoint 2010 workflows from existing tenants.
It means that in the current moment does not have the possibility to execute SharePoint 2010 workflows and since November this year, it will not be possible to continue usage of these workflows on the rest of Office 365 tenants.
SharePoint Designer 2013 workflows retirement plan:
- Since November 2020, SharePoint 2013 workflows will be turned off by default for new tenants. Microsoft will provide a PowerShell script to let customers to activate the SharePoint 2013-based workflow engine for the tenant as needed.
- Based on Todd Klindt post we should expect that the decision will be made about the end of usage of these workflows in Office 365
This change means that sooner or later SharePoint 2013 workflows will be turned off on Office 365.
SharePoint Designer 2013 app support plan:
- SharePoint 2010 workflow creation with SharePoint Online using SharePoint Designer 2013 will be turned off for any newly created tenants starting August 2020 and existing tenants starting November 2020. SharePoint Designer 2013 will work with SharePoint Server 2019 for the remainder of the client support lifecycle (2026). SharePoint Designer 2013 will not be supported beyond that timeframe.
The SharePoint Designer will be supported only for on-premise SharePoint Servers.
The retirement of the SharePoint classic workflows is a big change for many organizations. Especially that the timeline for this change is just 4 months. I see this could impact a lot many Office 365 users who moved from an on-premise environment. Personally, I expect the timeline will be expended, but the decision is made: SharePoint 2010 & 2013 workflows on Ofice 365 are dead.
SharePoint Designer Custom Forms Deprecated
Microsoft also deprecated the custom forms created by SharePoint Designer in SharePoint Online. The background of this action is very similar to the retirement of workflows’ low performance and really old technical background.
In case you are using custom forms created in SharePoint Designer you should consider migration to Power Apps. You need to remember that migration in this case means the redevelopment of the customs forms.
Awareness: SharePoint Designer feature deprecation
MC210713, Stay Informed, Published date: Apr 25, 2020
We’ve identified an issue affecting SharePoint Designer
We’ve identified an issue affecting SharePoint Designer functionality for creating and editing custom Forms within SharePoint Online. After careful examination, we’ve determined that there is no known fix for this issue and have elected to disable the feature effective as of 3:00 AM UTC on Saturday, April 25, 2020.
Users who have previously leveraged SharePoint Designer to create custom Forms are instead able to utilize PowerApps for this purpose.
PowerApps is an easy and powerful tool that allows users operating in the SharePoint Online Modern experience to create and edit custom Forms for SharePoint lists and document libraries right from a browser window. PowerApps does not require traditional coding knowledge or any additional app downloads such as InfoPath.
*Note: SharePoint Online Classic users will need to temporarily switch to the Modern experience to access and utilize PowerApps; though, all custom Forms created in PowerApps are accessible by SharePoint Online Classic experience users.
SharePoint Designer 2013 workflows on SharePoint Server 2013, 2016 and 2019
Workflows build on on-premise editions on SharePoint Server are still supported. You can create them and use on SharePoint on-premise. Designer can be used on every version of supported SharePoint editions: 2013, 2016, and 2019. Tool could be actively used for the edition of the SharePoint pages and workflow development.
SharePoint Designer 2013 support timeline:
- Mainstream Support End Date: 13.07.2021
- Extended Support End Date: 14.07.2026
SharePoint Designer 2013 application will be supported till 2026 year but you should consider that in case of any plans to move to Office 365 workflows created by Designer will not be supported. I recommend limiting the creation of any new workflows using SharePoint Designer 2013.
Why Microsoft has to turn off SharePoint Designer workflows
Microsoft put a lot of investments into Power Automate as a main process automation solution on Office 365. Founding at the same time existence of the really old technology that was developed in the 2009 year is a huge challenge.
SharePoint 2010 workflows probably also impact the quite heavy performance of the SharePoint Online.
Every person who worked with technology knows how problematic it could be. From the perspective of the performance and scalability, classic SharePoint Workflows are killer for the SharePoint. Medium processes developed in SharePoint Designer could heavily impact end-user experience.
How retirement of SharePoint workflows could impact you
There are two main areas where you can be impacted by the retirement of the SharePoint 2010 workflows and SharePoint 2013 workflows in Office 365:
- existence of the classic SharePoint workflows in Office 365
- migration from on-premise SharePoint Server to SharePoint Online
In both cases, you will need to migrate SharePoint workflows to Power Automate.
You are already using SharePoint Online on Office 365
All exiting classic SharePoint Workflows will stop working after the deadline set by Microsoft. Actively used processes will be blocked and business will not continue the work.
Of course, this is scenario will materialize for you only if SharePoint Designer workflows exist on your Office 365 environment. You will need to migrate every actively used workflow until the deadline. This is additional work and cost you need to consider. I believe during migration engagement on the business side will need to recreate the full functionality of existing processes.
You are planning or you are during migration to SharePoint Online on Office 365
Today you are not able to migrate exiting SharePoint 2010 Designer workflows to newly created Office 365 tenant. After the final deadline set by Microsoft, you will not be able to migrate them to any Office 365 environment. Sooner or later It will be also impossible to migrate SharePoint 2013 workflows to Office 365.
Till now migration of classic workflows to Office 365 was possible and requires a very small amount of additional tweaking to make them work. Migration was 1-1 and necessary business engagement was minimal. In the new reality you will not be able to migrate these workflows to Office 365 at all.
You are using third-party workflow solutions, like Nintex Workflows
Retirement of SharePoint workflow will impact or third-party products based on these engines. In general, this kind of solution will stop working at the same time when SharePoint workflows engine will be turned off.
It will impact users of one of the most popular custom workflow platform – Nintex Workflows. Nintex Workflows on SharePoint Online are based on SharePoint 2013 Workflows, so in situations when this engine will be removed Nintex Workflows will stop to work either.
Nintex offers its own workflows SaaS solution Nintex Cloud Workflows, but you will need to plan migration projects to this platform or move to Power Automate.
How to migrate SharePoint 2010 & 2013 Designer workflows to Office 365
The only way to migrate the SharePoint Designer workflows to SharePoint Online is a from-scratch implementation of their functionality in Power Automat or an alternative solution. Automated migratory that will parse an existing solution to Power Automate does not exist…
Migration of SharePoint 2010 workflows will require:
- the nomination of actively used workflows
- analysis of the functionality behind the processes
- mapping of the activities between SharePoint workflow and Power Automate flow
- implementation of the new process, test, etc.
This kind of change became quite a complex project.
Additional resources that could be useful for you:
How to analyze and scan for classic SharePoint workflows
In case when you are not sure if you are impacted by this change you will need to analyze your environments and scan for SharePoint 2010 workflows or SharePoint 2013 workflows.
All available scanning tool require collaboration with IT team or strong technical knowlege and high-level access rights one scanned environments.
Scanning the SharePoint Server for the classic workflows
Microsoft provides for a free extremely complex and detailed pre-migration analysis tool that can scan the existing SharePoint Server farm – SharePoint Migration Assessment Tool. One of the components which scanned during analysis are classic SharePoint workflows.
SMAT generates a high-level number of existing and running workflows. You can also drill down into detailed report that summarizes all necessary information about each SharePoint Designer workflow.
All reports are generated as a CSV files, so you will need to work on them a little.
You need SharePoint Farm admin rights to execute the tools. The execution could impact the performance of the SharePoint so do it at night or during the maintenance window.
Scanning the SharePoint Online for the classic workflows
Another great tool that will help you to nominate existing SharePoint Designer workflows in SharePoint Online is SharePoint Modernization Scanner. One of the existing features is canning for the classic workflows. Tools could list all classic workflows build on chosen SharePoint Online site collections.
Scanning requires additional preparation steps and can have some impact on the performance of the SharePoint Online sites.
Reports can be generated to CSV file.