Many people have asked me how to build custom dialogs in Workflow Studio. Enough people have asked that I have built custom dialogs as native tasks in Workflow Studio and I have also built them in PowerShell (something you could do right now with the tech preview.) Before I post more information on how to do this though I want to better understand why people want to have custom dialogs.

An example that I often hear is that someone wants to modify one of our samples to prompt the user for their username and password in the same dialog instead of using two dialogs. Another example I hear is that people would like a multi-column display tool (like a grid) to display the contents of objects output from other tasks. When people ask me for this I begin to wonder how they plan to use the workflow once they get beyond testing it. When we created those samples we included the user input to ensure that the user is aware of what the workflow is doing and to provide a way for them to input the settings specific to their environment. We expect that most people will deploy workflows with these settings pre-configured in the tasks directly or by using the “Set Variable Value” task and that any output would be to XML files or other tasks.

I wrote a post on IT Process Automation with Workflow Studio that looks at some of the use cases we expect Workflow Studio to be used for. Read through that earlier post for a little deeper look at how I think workflows will be used.  [And if you think I am wrong please leave me a comment or send me an email…]

With that post in mind, I believe that the people requesting richer interaction from a workflow are either looking to do a lot of “On-Demand Automation” or they are looking for Workflow Studio to offer a richer set of debugging tools for desiging and debugging workflows. If you have read this far then take my poll and tell me which you think it is for you?