Visio 2010 Can Design Workflows. Good.

Apparently, the technical preview copies of the Office 2010 client apps don’t involve a nondisclosure agreement.  As such, blogging has commenced in earnest about the fact that Visio 2010 will have workflow design capabilitiesWictor Wilén has a pretty good post on the subject, actually.

We’ve gotten a couple of inquiries about this already.  Actually, we get asked about what we’re doing for 2010 all the time, but these posts spurred two new questions:

  • Does this mean I’m not going to need/want any third-party workflow tools anymore?
  • This still means I’ll need to work with three products (Visio, SharePoint Designer, and SharePoint Server) to design, deploy, and use a workflow, won’t I?

These answers are easy, actually:

  • For the most part, no.
  • Yes.

Now, before I elaborate, let me reiterate what I said in my previous post; if there’s an early adopter program, anyone in it can’t talk about it. If I have any inside info, I’m not going to disclose it; if I don’t, I have nothing to disclose.  That having been said, I’ve frolicked in the SharePoint playground for a decade (if you count the prerelease Tahoe stuff) and I’m far from clueless…

The Visio 2010 stuff looks nice – really nice, in fact.  But yes, it looks like you’ll design workflows in Visio, transfer them to SharePoint Designer to deploy them, and actually use them within SharePoint itself.  At that point, three things come to mind:

  • The platform is improving, probably by a lot.  This would bode well for anyone leveraging SharePoint’s workflow investments, including Nintex.  (It might give pause to companies that seek to replace SharePoint’s workflow technology with their own alternative products, though.)
  • The design-and-deploy story looks like it will continue to rely on client-side tools.
  • Unless a lot of people start buying a lot of new copies of Visio, this scenario will be fine for some, but by no means will it suit everyone.

Selfishly-speaking, all of these things are good for Nintex.  We want SharePoint’s native workflow infrastructure to get better; whatever they’ve done to accommodate Visio should help us as well.  We like the idea of Visio offering an offline design experience; heck, if it outputs standard XOML, we may well try to import Visio workflows ourselves (no promises). 

And as nice as this scenario appears, it’s far from the “workflow for everyone” ethos we espouse.  We put visual workflow design and deployment right into the SharePoint UI.  It’s there at your fingertips whether you’re a professional process-mongers or a casual user. 

And that’s just the design environment side of the equation.  I suspect we’ll learn nothing about what’s happening with actions/activities, logging/tracking/reporting/managing, and support for complex logic until the SharePoint Conference in October.

But a rising tide lifts all boats.  And the tide indeed appears to be rising.

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6 Responses to Visio 2010 Can Design Workflows. Good.

  1. Mike,

    I think you can safely relax. Microsoft can play catch-up for years, and Nintex will still be in front and still provide tremendous value to users.

    I just wrote my perspective on this on my blog:

    http://furuknap.blogspot.com/2009/08/sharepoint-2010-visio-workflows-and.html

    .b

  2. Mike, you nailed it. When I first heard about what was planned I though oh no, the workflow ISVs are in trouble. Actually I think said that about 2007 too and here we are. However, like the last release, after I worked with it, I realized what MSFT built is good stuff and very useful, however it does not solve the problem Nintex and others resolve and that is building workflow processes quickly and easily. I look forward to a 3 more fruitful years.

  3. SharePoint Partners are Part of a Symbiotic Ecosystem NOT Leeches or Mice…

    I like the analogy of an ecosystem where Microsoft is the ho ……

  4. [...] Mike Fitzmaurice was talking about the new workflow design features in Visio 2010 and was discussing how this was good stuff, but very likely wouldn’t impact the Nintex business [...]

  5. […] Mike Fitzmaurice was talking about the new workflow design features in Visio 2010 and was discussing how this was good stuff, but very likely wouldn’t impact the Nintex business […]

  6. […] Mike Fitzmaurice was talking about the new workflow design features in Visio 2010 and was discussing how this was good stuff, but very likely wouldn’t impact the Nintex business […]

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