Make sure you check out the video content on Workflow 4.0 available at BizTalkGurus.com:
Consuming WCF Services in Workflow 4.0
Flowcharts and Rules in Workflow 4.0
Windows Workflow 4.0 is a major upgrade to the existing Microsoft workflow technology. As part of this upgrade, the designer has been enhanced to account for new features and increase the developer experience. Below is a screen shot of a basic sequential workflow.
A cool feature, that is not shown here, is the dynamically changing gray arrows. If a new shape is dragged over between the Persist and Delay shape above, the gray arrow would expand.
On the bottom left of the surface is the new Variables window. This somewhat resembles BizTalk’s variable experience inside the Orchestration.
The out-of-the-box Activities are a little different as well with some 4.0 additions. Keep in mind this is Beta code so more Activities could be added or removed at any time.
In the list above, you can see a new Flowchart activity. This represents the new flowchart workflow style. The Flow Decision and Flow Switch are part of this new style as well. Below is a completed flowchart workflow.
When working with flowcharts, you drop a Flow Switch (Yellow square with White X above) and draw lines from this shape to others following the path the logic should flow. The Flow Switch behaves similar to a CASE statement.
The above flowchart uses the Workflow 4.0 Rules. A sample rule is below.
Some new enhancements with the WCF and WF interactions now make communication easier. Below is the windows to configure inputs and outputs from a WCF message based Workflow.
One of the best features of Workflow 4.0 is the real-time validation on the variable fields. Inside an Assign shape for example, when you tab out of a cell that variable name is checked to ensure it exist. If not, you get a red X and a pop-up message. Due to my poor spelling, I am sure this will save me countless hours over the years.
Overall I found the new designer easy to use and it made sense to me – mostly due to the likeness to the Orchestration designer in BizTalk.
Hope this post gives you a quick first look at the new Workflow designer. Enjoy.