Thursday, 18 December 2014

SharePoint Designer 2013 - Common Errors with Simple Solutions

There are any number of generic and frustrating errors that one may encounter when working with SPD and workflows. The most infuriating are those that prevent publishing the workflow and are not caused by the operator. This post lists a few of my favourites - and the workarounds I've applied to overcome them. I expect it to grow over time. ;-)

"Errors were found when compiling the workflow... Unexpected error on server associating the workflow"

This is without doubt the most common and generic error facing all workflow designers. It often occurs after trying to publish an error-free workflow that then throws an - (X, X) Activity 'IDXX' validation failed: ... - type error.

While there are many proposed solutions to this -- IIS resets, app pool recycling, a read-only text file in the app pool's temp directory, even web.config modifications -- none of them reliably worked for me.

The simplest and most effective solution has been to simply delete the contents of the ProxyAssemblyCache directory for the user on the machine you're running SPD from.

This directory can be found in the following location:

C:\Users\USER\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\SharePoint Designer\ProxyAssemblyCache

Property 'DurationUnit' has invalid value

This error occurs periodically when attempting to publish a workflow with an approval action. I'm not sure why it occurs or why it picks the DurationUnit variable but this is the only one I've ever seen affected.

The complete error is:

(0, 0) Activity 'ID4' validation failed: Property 'DurationUnit' has invalid value. Field type 'System.String' does not match with the expected type 'Microsoft.Office.Workflow.Actions.DurationUnit'.)

Like others who've encountered this I was perplexed when I couldn't find 'DurationUnit' in the workflow parameters or variables. That's because it's sneakily hidden (along with many others) in the Properties for the approval action, which you can get to by right-clicking the action.

To resolve the error, just click the ƒx symbol next to the parameter in question, ensure that field from source is Parameter: Duration Units and click OK.

Approval Workflow Error on Rejection

This occurs with the OOTB approval workflows and the Start Approval Process action (which uses the same core task processes. When a user clicks Reject on the task, the workflow errors out without any real indication as to why. If you check the ULS logs (and your diagnostic log settings are set appropriately) you may see something like this:

Workflow Infrastructure 98d4 Unexpected System.InvalidOperationException: CompositeActivity cannot transition to 'Closed' status when there are active child context still exist for child activity.

Ignoring the horrific grammar, the key clue here is "active child context still exist for child activity". This led me to believe the task process was not properly exiting for whatever reason. Some claim it's a long-standing bug in the Microsoft.Office.Workflow.Actions assembly. Reverting this to an older version was not something I was going to entertain.

After scrutinising every last aspect of the task processes and nearly giving up, I finally found a solution. Once again the fix turned out to be a simple one.

  • Click the approval action to open the task process screen.
  • Click the Change the behavior of the overall task process link in the Customisation section.
  • Scroll your way down to the When The Task Process Completes event.
  • Within the "Else" clause you should see an End Task Process action. Remove it.

Please feel free to comment on any other errors you come across often and I'll do my best to find solutions.

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