The first step in developing custom workflows is to decide which tools you want to use. Each tool has different capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. SharePoint Designer 2007 (SPD) presents a declarative workflow design experience and includes a wizard to create workflows that is similar to the Outlook Rules Wizard. Visual Studio 2005, on the other hand, presents a graphical design experience with its integrated workflow designer as well as a low-level code-based design experience with the Visual Studio extensions for WF. Visual Studio gives you more power, but is more complex than SharePoint Designer.
The tool that you decide to use depends on a number of factors. First, you should decide whether you really need to develop a custom workflow at all. The default workflows included with SharePoint resolve a number of business scenarios and are somewhat customizable through various configuration options. If you need something more powerful or customizable, then you should compare the features and capabilities of SharePoint Designer with those of Visual Studio 2005. The following table presents key points of comparison between the two development environments:
|Category||SharePoint Designer||Visual Studio|
|Supported WF Hosts||WSS/MOSS||WSS/MOSS/Others|
|Development Model||Wizard based||Graphical Designer|
|Supported Workflows||Sequential Only||Sequential and State Machine|
|Workflow type||Markup only. The markup file, rules and supporting files are not compiled.||Markup with code-beside ...|