Introduction: Gone are the days when you have to manually start your Nintex workflows whenever a new Account is created in Salesforce or a new Case is opened in Dynamics CRM. With the new release of Nintex Workflow 2013, we are introducing a new extensibility feature in Nintex Workflow 2013 Enterprise Edition called External Start. External Start gives Nintex workflow designers the power to start Nintex site workflows based on events triggered in external systems outside of SharePoint world, such as Salesforce and Dynamics CRM.
Scenario: Let's say you have a Nintex site workflow that needs to be started whenever a new account is created in your Salesforce system. With the help of External Start, you can generate an endpoint URL along with its security key. This endpoint URL can then be configured in an integration provider system, such as Azuqua or Zapier. The integration provider system monitors the specified Salesforce events and then executes the action to start the workflow automatically.
High level process flow diagram of External Start
The following diagram illustrates the overall mechanism of External Start and how it interacts with the integration provider system and the external system.
The process begins when the workflow designer publishes a site workflow and uses External Start to generate the endpoint URL and its security key, which are then stored in the Nintex Workflow Config database. The workflow designer then copies the URL and security key to an action in the integration partner system, configuring the action to monitor the external system and map start workflow variables (if any). Then once the desired event is triggered in external system, the integration partner system calls the endpoint URL to send a request to start the workflow.
Configuring External Start in Central Administration
First off, we need to make sure that you have the right Nintex Workflow license: License type of Enterprise, with Live enabled.
To verify the license type, go to the Central Administration Home page, click Nintex Workflow Management, and then click Licensing.
To verify that the license is live-enabled, go to the Central Administration Home page, click Nintex Live Management, and then click Health Checks.
Note : During installation, Live must be checked in order to view the Live Settings section
After verifying the license, the next step is to enable Nintex Live (if not yet enabled) and External Start.
To enable Nintex Live and External Start, go to the Central Administration Home page, click Nintex Workflow Management, click Live Settings, and then click Enable for both features.
Configure External Start for a Nintex site workflow:
When External Start is enabled, workflow designers can then go to the SharePoint site and configure External Start for Nintex site workflows.
To generate an External Start URL for a site workflow:
Access the Manage External Start page. This page can be accessed from the Settings menu (gear icon shown on the left) or from the Nintex Workflow section of the Site Settings page (shown on the right).
Note: This feature is only available for Nintex site workflows
The Manage External Start page lists all of the site workflows created within this site. Previous External Start configuration for a given workflow is indicated by the number of endpoint URLs and calls (times that the workflow has been started through those URLs). In the example image below, the workflow Create Account Doc Library AccNo has three (3) endpoint URLs and three (3) calls; the workflow has been started through its URLs three times.
To configure External Start for the workflow, click the Configure button next to the workflow.
The External Start configuration page for that workflow appears, listing the details of any previously configured External Start URLs as well as the link Add URL to create new External Start URLs.
Note : Each workflow can have multiple URLs. An individual URL can be used by multiple integration providers.
Click Add URL to add a new External Start URL.
The new URL is enabled by default and ready to be used. You can optionally specify an internal URL name to be used as a reference; you might specify the purpose of the URL or distinguish it by intended integration provider system. You can disable a URL by changing the status value (in the Status column) to Disabled. The disabled status prevents the workflow from being started when the URL is called by an integration provider system.
Click Save to commit changes after updating the internal URL name or changing its status.
To view the URL and its security key, click View Details under the URL and security key column for the URL of interest.
The View details dialog box appears, displaying the External Start URL details.
To copy the URL or security key, click the related copy button (Copy URL or Copy security key) and then paste the copied text into the configuration of an integration partner system action to set up the workflow to be started via External Start.
The next step is to go to the integration provider system to configure the integration point for the external system that you want to monitor and the action that will use the URL and security key to start the workflow.
Administration of External Start URLs:
The External Start feature also comes with an admin page in Central Administration that allows SharePoint administrators to view and manage all External Start URLs configured across the entire SharePoint farm.
To access the admin page, go to the Central Administration Home page, click Nintex Workflow Management, and then click External Start URLs.
This concludes our introduction and walkthrough of this awesome new feature that will provide the much-awaited bi-directional integration with external systems such as Salesforce, Dynamics CRM, and DocuSign.
Want more information? There are several documents available showing how to use the External Start feature in conjunction with an integration provider system, such as Azuqua or Zapier, in order to start a workflow based on an event in an external system, such as Salesforce or Dynamics CRM. For more information about External Start, see Working with External Start. You can also create your own code-based solution by utilizing the Start Workflow API; see Developing with the External Start feature.