Moving SharePoint 2010 Workflows in Visio

Exporting or Importing SharePoint 2010 Workflows using SharePoint Designer now requires Visio Premium 2010.  This is important because I previously had Visio Professional and it will not have the content type for Workflow - SharePoint Workflow.

Another note:
To import and exported SharePoint Designer Workflow into Visio, which will be an .vwi file, create a new workflow - SharePoint Workflow.  Then navigate to Process tab in ribbon  and choose Import SharePoint Workflow.

I also found that Visio Check Diagram found errors in my workflow that even SharePoint Designer did not detect.  My issue was a very large workflow that should have been parallel, but I had built it sequential.

If you are like me and you have a production SharePoint site you are building solutions on, but need to play with it first in a development system, you will not be able to move the workflow among the 2 systems, unless you follow these instructions.

About .vwi files:
.vwi files are simply .zip files that are compressed with a different file extension.  To view one change the .vwi to a .zip extension.  OR even better, use 7-Zip to view or move files among 2 .vwi files.  The steps below require you to move a file among 2 .vwi files, so open 2 separate instances of 7-zip and open each file, then drag between them.  (If you un-compress and re-compress and change the filenames manually it will not work.)

There was an option in SharePoint Designer, Export to Visio which exports your workflow as a .vwi file, and can be imported in to another site using the option Import from Visio. But when you try that option, you will get the below message:

This workflow cannot be imported because it was created in SharePoint Designer for a different site, or the original workflow has been moved or deleted. To move a workflow between sites, use Save as Template (.wsp file) instead of a Visio workflow drawing.

(Saving as a .wsp IS NOT the answer)

So, to achieve the same follow the steps below.
  1. In the first(source) site, create the required workflow and publish it.
  2. Now select Export to Visio option which allows you to save the workflow with a .vwi extension. (Refer this workflow hereafter as source workflow).
  3. Now go to the destination site where you want the workflow to be copied, and create a new workflow with the same name as the previous one & publish it.
  4. Now select Export to Visio option which allows you to save the workflow with a .vwi extension. (Refer this workflow hereafter as Destination workflow).
  5. Now you will be having two .vwi files (one of source workflow’s – SourceWorkflowName.vwi and other of the destination workflow’s – DestinationWorkflowName.vwi). Now add .zip extension to both the files. Now your files names should be &
  6. Now open both the zip files, copy workflow.xoml.wfconfig.xml from destination workflow to source workflow. (Its destination to source and not source to destination).
  7. From now on, we will not use the file So ignore that file.
  8. Remove the .zip extension from which gives you the SourceWorkflowName.vwi file.
  9. Now, go to the destination site, open workflows and click Import from Visio and browse to the SourceWorkflowName.vwi file.
  10. That’s it and your workflow is copied. You can publish the workflow and run it.
PS : In case if your list’s GUID’s (for those lists that you have used in workflow – tasks list, history list or any other lists used in workflow steps) have been changed from source & destination site, you may need to update those steps in the workflow.  Lookups will need to be rebuilt.


  1. By the way, Visio is a great way to design a workflow visually for a customer first. Even better if they create one for you.


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