Nintex Workflow Document Submission: Part 1 – Making use of item check out and check in


This is the first part of a series of posts relating to the scenario explained in the introduction which can be viewed using the following link:
Nintex Workflow Document Submission: Introduction

Although this is part of a larger scenario, each post can be suitably viewed separately for those that would like to view this for the general concept.

What is check in and check out?

Depending on company policies or how administrators set out the rules for a SharePoint document library, the use of checking an item in and out can differ.

If you are not familiar with the “Check in” and “Check out” functionality, they are actions that are available in a SharePoint document library and can be performed from the ribbon menu after selecting an item.

check in and out ribbon

The “Checking out” of an item means that only the user that “checked out” the item can then edit it while it is in this state. While in this state, other SharePoint users cannot see any changes made until the item is then “checked in”. Once “checked in”, other SharePoint users can then see any changes made during that time.

Using this feature in a document library improves consistency in editing data between a community of multiple users because only 1 user at a time can edit the document.

What can be seen as a slight problem with this feature is a user may check out a document and forget to check the document back in again. This means that other users cannot perform any actions on this file until it is checked back in.

Nintex workflow check in and check out actions

Nintex Workflow for Office 365 has the following 3 actions available:

  • Check out item
  • Check in item
  • Discard Check Out Item

This means that you are able to force an automatic check in, check out or discard any changes made during check out whenever required.

For our document submission scenario, we immediately need the current item to be checked out to the user that added it to make sure that it is only them able to make further changes to it.

Before adding any workflow actions, the first thing to do would be to make sure the workflow runs as soon as the document is added. To do this, go to the workflow settings, found in the ribbon menu.


In the settings, from the “Start options”, make sure that the “Start when items are created” box is ticked.

workflow start options

Now we can start putting together the workflow actions.

In the Nintex workflow designer, add the “Check Out Item” action.

check out item

In the configuration, make sure that Item field is set to “Current Item”.

check out configuration

This will make sure that as soon as the item is added, it will be checked out to the current user.

The next post will look at checking the item in and in particular relating this action to a time or date.

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