Use a Series of Dictionary Variables in Workflow Actions to Collect Information for Custom Lists in SharePoint 2013

This is a third post that comments on a video training course on SharePoint 2013, authored by Asif Rehmani, which demonstrates How to Pull info from a Blog’s RSS feed using SharePoint Designer 2013 Workflow.

Once the entire URL for the RSS feed (including the address of the free-of-charge XML to JSON translation service) is added to a web service action via the String Builder Dialog Box, Asif Rehmani demonstrates how to actually remove the URL syntax for the RSS feed, in order to ensure that the information will be dynamically updated as new information is added to the feed. In fact, the workflow action will append the RSS feed address to the URL based with information that will be found in the “Blog Feed” column of the “Blog Fetch” List, the “current item” for the web service demonstrated in this training video.

As Asif Rehmani demonstrates, the “Response” type should be set to a Dictionary variable for the web service action. Once the data is pulled from the RSS feed into a Dictionary, we will be able to use the workflow to populate our custom list with the column information that we are after. Once the Response type has been configured, Asif Rehmani returns to the JSON viewer application to note the sections of the feed that the workflow will have to traverse to locate the information required for the custom column.

Asif Rehmani records the structure of the RSS feed with notepad, “rss/channel/item( )/title”. The “( )” string will be filled with a number that corresponds to the suffix (“title”, “description”, etc) following the final “/” in the string. In order to have the data available for further processing with the workflow, Asif creates a second Dictionary variable the additional data to be collected by this second action.

The second action is configured as a “Get an Item from a Dictionary” action. This action will pull all of the information from a Dictionary that has been collected under the broadest “item” setting. The information collected via this second action is configured as yet another Dictionary variable, this time corresponding to the actual blog entries included in the RSS feed. In all there will be 10 of these actions, 1 for each of the columns of information in our custom list. Asif Rehmani adds another action to the workflow, this time a “Count Items in a Dictionary” action, which will be used, as he demonstrates, to ensure that all 10 pieces of information required to populate the custom column are correctly processed by the workflow.

In the next post to this blog we will comment further on this training course.

Ira Michael Blonder

© Rehmani Consulting, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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