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Score 6.7 out of 101

Likelihood to Recommend

SharePoint Designer

Well Suited - WORKFLOWS!To a SharePoint Developer, workflows are like a hammer to a carpenter. If there is a business process that needs automation, the first thing I look to is what are we automating? What/where is the data? How can we minimize the number of keystrokes by end-users to get from the start to finish? The answer to all of these is "build a workflow". With the introduction of "Call HTTP Web Service" action, you can now access data anywhere in a site collection and consume it in any site, on any list, for any form. SharePoint Designer Workflows makes the SharePoint world go round. Less Appropriate - Building SharePoint PagesI have attempted to use SharePoint Designer to build custom pages, but it just is the worst tool to use. There are many other tools to use to develop customized pages. The techniques of designing custom page layouts, CSS files to populate in pages, JavaScript Snippets for pages have changed so much over the years, and SharePoint Designer did not change with them. In fact, it is my opinion the 2013 version made it 100 times more difficult than the 2010 Version.
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Pros

SharePoint Designer

  • 2013 Workflows - Loops: You can build loops to work while a value (not) equals something, or N number of times. You can insert Parallel Blocks to do multiple things at once, or to watch for multiple things, and when 1 thing finishes, cancels the others and moves to the next step or stage.
  • 2013 Workflows - Stages: Previously all we had were steps, which worked sequentially. With the Concept of Stages, we can create blocks of steps and based on the data collected during those functions, we can tell the workflow to go to a different Stage in the workflow based on a set of 1, or multiple, Conditionals in a transition area after each Stage. Giving you the power to develop multiple entire processes and skipping to the correct part of the workflow, rather than going through 20 conditionals to find out you needed to do action 31.
  • 2013 Workflows - REST API: the "Call HTTP Web Service" is a very powerful tool, but hard to understand if you have never seen it done, or have a guideline. It works very similar to the requirements in PowerShell to connect and get and post data to SharePoint using the Rest API. You can also use this to manage permissions on List Items, Lists, Sites, and Site Collections. Best part is when developed correctly, it is SUPER FAST!
  • Intentionally Building Infinite Loops: I have built multiple review process from Managing Certifications to Updating Published Documentation, that monitors when an Item, based on provided approved metadata, when the "Author" needs to review the document within the given amount of time. They will get e-mails with links asking if changes are needed. If not, it is routed to the Approving Executive, and the Workflow Automatically updates the Metadata to push out the review dates to the next date, based on metadata provided on how how often the document should be reviews. By using conditionals in the transition of stages, it basically starts over, and goes into a parallel block to allow the monitoring of multiple values of metadata to move to the next stage. Very Powerful when you want to automate these types of process. It truly is a "Set It and Forget It" process.
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Cons

SharePoint Designer

  • If you have never used SharePoint Designer, everything about this program is very hard. It looks like a cross between the old Microsoft FrontPage, Notepad, Visual Studio, and Visio. All of you know how to use right? No. Most people now days, do not know what FrontPage is, but it was an HTML WebPage editor, and SharePoint Designer 2010 had a GUI (Drag and Drop to build) interface, but they did away with it in the 2013 version, which made making Page Layouts, Custom WebParts, and editing Master Pages nearly impossible without knowing HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and .Net.
  • How to build the workflows is not apparent. Even the books out there published on SharePoint Development or Administration using SharePoint Designer tell you minor things; how to start, how to stop, how pause, etc., but nothing really defined as a Standard Best Practice to build (Insert Business Process Here) workflow. For example, a detailed explanation of how to use the action "Start an approval process". There are 3 different states in this workflow, and there are so many options in each state, and there is not a clear path. That is just one out of the box action that has 3-4 Levels of detail, without any direction. Your only hope is Google Searches, YouTube Videos, and if you are luck, there is a local college or university with Computer Education Training that focus on specific specific programs and teach you the in's and out's of the program, such as the University of Missouri - St. Louis. They have an entire division dedicated to the use of these types of applications such as SharePoint Designer, with actual Certificate Programs, of which I obtained (http://www.cetc.umsl.edu/). The classes there on SharePoint Designer gave me the knowledge to become the Architect and Designer I am today.
  • The number of actions available out of the box are limited. Granted the 2013 platform workflows do have a larger number of actions available, but still they are limited. One of the things I have done is develop custom workflow actions for SharePoint Designer. Sadly this only works with SharePoint on Premise Systems and you have to develop it in Visual Studio, and that program is as intuitive as learning a new language. The workaround I have used to add nearly 40 additional actions, with AMAZINGLY DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS with examples is the Workflow Actions Pack by Plumsail.com. This $500 annual investment has elevated the level of development with SharePoint Designer to outer space. The best part, it is not difficult to use, and makes creating workflows exciting.
  • The absolute worst thing about SharePoint Designer is that Microsoft is not releasing another version after the 2013 version. Microsoft will support SharePoint Designer 2013 for SharePoint 2013 & 2016 on Premise systems until 2026 (https://blogs.office.com/2016/01/20/sharepoint-server-2016-and-project-server-2016-release-candidate-available/). However, for the SharePoint Online (Office 365) environment may not support it for that amount of time. Microsoft may cut the time shorter due to SharePoint Online being a Multi-Tenant Environment.
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Likelihood to Renew

SharePoint Designer

SharePoint Designer 10.0
Based on 1 answer
It is a helpful tool that we use every day.
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Alternatives Considered

SharePoint Designer

SharePoint Designer is a free tool. We use it where ever possible.
Laura Stein profile photo

Return on Investment

SharePoint Designer

  • SharePoint Designer is free to download. What can be better than having a free tool to manage SharePoint?
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Pricing Details

SharePoint Designer

General

Free Trial
Free/Freemium Version
Premium Consulting/Integration Services
Entry-level set up fee?
No
Additional Pricing Details

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