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SPARKnit Tricks for Working with a Large Workflow

Need to navigate a large SPARK Workflow? Here are a few tricks to help you out.

SPARKnit Large Workflow

Need to navigate a large SPARK Workflow? This video will show you a few tricks to help you out. These videos are meant to be quick and easy to consume. In the near future, we’ll also be adding a more structured video-based training course featuring SPARKnit products. Sign up here to be notified about TekDog updates.

If you are looking for training for a group within your organization, we offer that both in-person and online. Let us know if we can help make your transition to SPARKnit a smooth one! If you do not have SPARK yet and are looking for a partner to purchase, we can do that too! Feel free to contact us anytime.
For those that would prefer to read along with the video, the transcript of the content is found below.

SPARK Training: Tricks for Working with a Large Workflow

Hi, I'm Jason Sexton and I've been working for TekDog with SharePoint and Business Process Automation for a few years now. Today I'm going to show you a couple of little tricks I use when navigating a large SPARK workflow.

SPARK is a Business Process Automation tool we use with SharePoint. A Business Process Automation tool lets you design a workplace routine so that everyday tasks are done for you automatically.

When your workflow has a large number of steps, obviously it's not going to fit on one screen. You'll have to scroll up and down to see everything.

The first trick you need in order to improve this situation isn't really a trick. It's a useful activity already built into SPARK: the Activities Set.

The Activities Set lets you group other activities together. It doesn't actually do anything itself, as you see it doesn't even have any settings other than the title. You can give it a good name for the group of activities it contains, and then you can close it up.

When you have several Activities Sets used in this way, it makes sections of your workflow much easier to view. You can expand the part of the workflow you're working with at the time, and close up and ignore other parts.

Another trick is the Find tool in your browser. This works best if you are diligent about your naming conventions. Always use titles that will help you find the activity later just by using the Find tool. Having consistent naming conventions will allow you to predict what the activity will be named and find it easily. Three great examples are logs, notifications, and queries. When troubleshooting, your investigation will likely begin with looking for one of these three kinds of activities in your workflow.

When you use a Log activity, give it a title using part of the exact same text used in the log itself. This way, when your workflow has a problem, you can copy the text from the workflow history and paste it directly into the Find tool to quickly find the activity you're looking for.

When you use a notification, always put the word "Notify" or something similar in the title. I use Notify, but whatever you choose, just be consistent. This way, when there is a problem in your workflow, you can use knowledge of which email notifications did or didn't get sent to find the area in question. I also include some of the specific subject line text in the activity title and can use that to find the exact point where a particular email is configured.

Finally, and this is definitely a "trick," I use a little JavaScript to expand and collapse my large workflows. Here's why. As I noted earlier, Activities Sets are useful for hiding away details of your workflow so you can get an overview and only expand the part you're working with at the time. The problem is that when Activity Sets are collapsed, the Find tool in your browser won't find the contents!

I use a couple lines of JavaScript to expand and collapse the Activities Sets as needed. It works with other grouping activities also, like Run Ifs.

In order to apply JavaScript commands in your browser, you'll need to use the Developer Tools pane. In Edge, you can find it here. And here it is in Chrome. The JavaScript works the same either way.

I don't type this JavaScript every time, I just have it handy to copy and paste when needed. You should be able to find the commands in the text below this video.


To expand all activity groups:



To collapse all activity groups. Note that collapse is spelled wrong. That's ok, the mispelling is what is needed in order for it to work correctly:



Anyway, when the activities are all expanded, now you can reliably use the find tool to find anything. Here I'm able to jump to every single use of a notification by find on "Notify".

And the JavaScript for collapse will return the workflow to the easy-to-read overview. I'll save the workflow in it's collapsed state so I can get a quick view next time I need to troubleshoot.

That's the conclusion of my session on SPARK workflow tricks. If you have any questions or would like more help from TekDog contact Kerry Kicos at TekDog with the information on the screen.


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