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SharePoint Designer Workflow Cannot Access “Remote” or “Foreign” Lists

Here’s another common SharePoint Designer workflow question:

"Can I access (read/write) SharePoint lists via workflows which do not reside on the same site as the list itself?"

The simple answer is: No.

As in so many ways, however, we have to qualify that (which is a good thing in this case).  The platform lets us create extensions to the produce in many ways, including a custom action (see my little codeplex project here for an example).  A custom action lets us do basically anything we want from SharePoint designer workflow.  I’m a big fan of this, in fact, since it gives us the best of both worlds — a declarative end-user friendly designer with the full depth of the .NET framework at our finger tips.

Sadly, if you’re using SPD, there’s a good chance you’re doing that because you can’t use visual studio (due to the fact that visual studio requires a deep developer background).  I don’t have any good answer to that problem except that you should prevail upon one of your technical co-workers to create the kind of custom action you need.  Alternatively, work with management to hire or contract that kind of resource.

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2 responses to “SharePoint Designer Workflow Cannot Access “Remote” or “Foreign” Lists

  1. Will Dieterich November 10, 2008 at 11:26 am

    There is an activity at http://www.codeplex.com/SPDActivities/Wiki/View.aspx?title=Copy%20List%20Item%20Extended%20Activity&referringTitle=Home which provides the capbility to copy list and documents to a different list or library.

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