Tips on SharePoint Workflow, SharePoint Activities and MethodInvoking callbacks

One thing I’ve noticed about the SharePoint callback-based Activities in Workflow is that they are extremely flakey if you try to reference the member variable reference for the owning Activity directly instead of casting the “sender” argument in the event handler itself. You have a SharePoint SetState Activity, for exmaple, along with the corresponding MethodInvoking hook and I don’t mean the State Machine transition Activity, but rather the SharePoint-specific Activity that lets you override the Workflow’s overall state string using the <ExtendedStatusColumnValues> metadata in Workflow.xml. In my case, I use the MySetState_MethodInvoking hook to set the state at runtime depending on several conditions. If I try to set properties on the workflow's MySetState member variable directly like this:

private void MySetState_MethodInvoking(object sender, EventArgs e) {
    this.MySetState.State = SPWorkflowStatus.Max + 2;

This just plainly doesn’t work reliably. It doesn’t throw any exceptions, in fact it looks to work just fine, except the state is not changed. The same seems to go for any other of the SharePoint interfaces that involve callbacks. In my experience, they just don’t work most of the time especially if the workflow dehydrates before the callback is invoked. This leads me to think that there are some quirky interactions going on internally that somehow cause the workflow to ignore your attempts to change anything, perhaps due to the workflow getting rehydrated after you have made the changes, or who knows. All I know is that if you want this stuff to work reliably, ALWAYS CAST THE SENDER to your target Activity before attempting to manipulate the owning Activity. Using the member variable is just flakey. If anyone has any information on this, let me know. This works reliably:

private vid MySetState_MethodInvoking(object sender, EventArgs e) {
    ((SetState)sender).State = SPWorkflowStatus.Max + 2;

Anyway, have fun.

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About the author

Irish, PowerShell MVP, .NET/ASP.NET/SharePoint Developer, Budding Architect. Developer. Montrealer. Opinionated. Montreal, Quebec.

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