SharePoint 2019 On-Premise Workflows


Microsoft has still positioned SharePoint 2019 On-premises environment for custom solutions and applications that can be migrated over from business.

Majorly there are three different workflows supported in SharePoint 2019:

  1. Microsoft Flow: Microsoft Flow is a new cloud-based workflow platform. It has two limitations:
    – Each related user must have a PowerApps Plan 1 license which is not part of the SharePoint Server license.
    – Microsoft Flow is currently optimized for non-interactive workflows.
  2. SharePoint 2013 Workflow: This platform is the recommended workflow platform where Microsoft Workflow Manager is used to integrate workflows into SharePoint Designer.
  3. SharePoint 2010 Workflow: This platform is supported for backward compatibility, it has a limitation custom action cannot be migrated over.

On the bright side, SharePoint supports Microsoft Workflow Manager, which is based on Windows Workflow Foundation.

We can Develop Custom workflows using these Visual Studio tools 

  • Visual Studio: Visual Studio is used to develop Sequential & Parallel workflows with custom actions and tasks that can interact with any custom application.

The end-user interacts with workflows via modern web browsers like Edge, Firefox, or Chrome.

Building SharePoint Workflow Services using Client-Side Object Model, Microsoft has introduced an entirely new workflow architecture and platform that reflect fundamental shifts in the product direction.

The most prominent change in the new architecture is that workflow execution in SharePoint no longer takes place in SharePoint. Instead new execution engine: Workflow Manager 1.0.

Workflow Manager hosts the Windows Workflow Foundation runtime and all the necessary services required by Windows Workflow Foundation. When a workflow is published, or a new instance of a published workflow is started, SharePoint notifies Workflow Manager, which in turn processes the workflow episodes. When the workflow access information in SharePoint, such as list item properties or user properties, it authenticates using the OAuth support and communicates over new and improved REST APIs.

Using Visual Studio 2017 we can develop Workflow projects and add our Activities, Custom Activities, and deploy on SharePoint 2019 as a feature. 

Figure 3. Workflow authoring interface
  1. Project Explorer where you can view the project structure and files
  2. Activity Toolbox to add-in tools and custom activities
  3. Activity Designer allows to drag & drop from toolbox where the business logic flow is drawn
  4. Activity Properties to view the in/Out parameters
  5. Variable Toolbox allows you to define variables for the workflow activity

Example project module that can be easy to start up your custom workflow on SharePoint 2019

Reference & add references to core SharePoint CSOM libraries:

· Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.dll
· Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Runtime.dll
· Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.WorkflowServices.dll
You can utilize the power of CAML query inside custom activity
CamlQuery camlQuery = new CamlQuery();

Copy CustomActivity.dll from the release folder and paste it into the following two locations.

Edit the AllowedTypes.xml file into the above two locations.

  • Open a command prompt to restart the “Workflow Manager Backend” service.
  •  Type net stop “Workflow Manager Backend” and Type net start “Workflow Manager Backend”   
  • Compile and deploy the “WorkflowActivity” Feature from visual studio 2017

That’s all…. You have done the custom code activity workflow in SharePoint 2019. 

Prashanth Hamse Vishwanath


Prashanth is a Senior Architect in Microsoft technology with over 14 years of professional vast experience in SharePoint (Office 365, SP Online, SP 2013) the software industry.

More on Prashanth Hamse Vishwanath.

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  4. Ash P June 5, 2021 Reply

    I was searching for some customized solutions for workflows on Sp2019 and internet search redirected me to your wonderful article.

    I like the concise and to the point explanation. Would you mind sharing the starter Visual studio solution?

    Many thanks

  5. Mark January 21, 2022 Reply

    I am migrating from 2013-2019 with workflows and found this article and many others like it. Unfortunately they are all written prior to Microsoft announcing they no longer support WFM in 2019. Only the RTM version is supported. Short story, this is dead and a waste of your time. Please correct me if I am wrong. Cut and paste from Microsoft and SP 2019.
    SharePoint Workflow Manager (SharePoint Server 2019 Preview)
    Microsoft announced that SharePoint Server 2019 Preview would support a new workflow management application called SharePoint Workflow Manager to run SharePoint Server 2013 workflows. However, the SharePoint Workflow Manager application was canceled before its final release. The RTM release of SharePoint Server 2019 supports Service Bus 1.1 and Microsoft Workflow Manager 1.0 CU5 to run SharePoint Server 2013 workflows. For more information, see Install and configure workflow in SharePoint Server.

    • Evan February 3, 2022 Reply

      Hi, Mark. Were you able to migrate/recreate your SharePoint 2013 workflows to SharePoint 2019 through other methodologies?
      I’m interested to know how can we recreate a workflow in SharePoint 2019 other than using Power Automate.
      I would appreciate your inputs on this.

    • Evan February 4, 2022 Reply

      Hi, Mark.
      I’m also planning to migrate/recreate workflows from SharePoint 2013 to 2019. Do you know other ways to do it other than using Power Automate Flow?

  6. Mark January 21, 2022 Reply

    This is no longer applicable. Microsoft abandoned WFM for SP 2019 in 2020 after this was written. Only SP209 RTM is supported. WFM add on is dead.