SharePoint Designer 2010: Cannot create workflows with SharePoint Online Wave 14


While delivering a document management system using SharePoint Online Wave 14, we came across a strange problem. We could not create new, or modify out-of-the-box workflows using SharePoint Designer 2010.

Clicking on ‘Workflows’ and associating it to a list would open up the ‘Create a list workflow’ window, where we could type in a name and description for the workflow. After clicking on OK, the ‘Create a list workflow’ window would disappear and nothing happened. In addition, when attempting to modify an existing out-of-the-box workflow, SharePoint Designer 2010 only displayed an error page:

SharePoint Designer 2010 - Workflow error

As we have other Office 365 development tenants, we tested the functionality and it worked fine on them. We also installed SharePoint Designer 2010 on a fresh machine and the same results occured. The problem existed with this particular customer tenant. We contacted Microsoft Support and despite the problem not being fixed, a workaround was suggested.

All troubleshooting steps suggested by Microsoft:

  1. Repair SharePoint Designer 2010.
  2. Clear SharePoint Designer 2010 caches:
    • C:UsersUSERAppDataLocalMicrosoftWebsiteCacheSITE_NAME
    • C:UsersUSERAppDataRoamingMicrosoftSharePoint DesignerProxyAssemblyCacheALL_FOLDERS
  3. Ensure SP1 was installed for SharePoint Designer 2010.
  4. Re-publish workflows using SharePoint Designer 2010 – this was not possible at all because of the problem that existed.
  5. Deactivate and reactivate Workflow features at Site Collection level
    •  Navigate to Root site collection
    • Click on Site Actions, then click Site Settings
    • Under Site Collection Administration, click on Site Collection Features
    • Deactivate the Workflows Feature
    • Delete the workflows (Approval, collect feedback, collect signatures) from the site using SharePoint Designer 2010
    •  Re-Activate the Workflow Feature

WORKAROUND: Install SharePoint Designer 2013:

The troubleshooting steps above are useful things to know should you encounter problems with SharePoint Designer 2010 or SharePoint workflows. However, the overall workaround was to install SharePoint Designer 2013. Microsoft recommends users fully uninstall SharePoint Designer 2010 and clear the caches mentioned above, then install SharePoint Designer 2013 and re-open the site. Thankfully we can now create and edit workflows for SharePoint Online Wave 14.

Jon Maunder
The Kinetal IT Team

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