Recently I’ve been involved in that project, where data and information that was being created for years in on premise SharePoints had to be migrated to the Sharepoint Online environment in Office 365. All migration was said to be a simple, straightforward and easy due to the usage of Sharegate, but… the real truth turned out to be way more dark.
Before the real migration started I sat down and started reading about the process and possible obstacles. I can now divide them into 3 groups:
- Limitations of Sharegate
- Limitations of SharePoint Online
- Limitations of Nintex for Office 365.
First things first. I will guide you through all and each from them.
Limitations of Sharegate
Sharegate is a really great tool. Honestly. It saved me dozens of hours but as well made me frustrated. But still it is great. It really allows not straightforward migrations to be possible (like from SP2007 directly to SP2013 and so on), is the only tool that allows automatic migration from on premise to online, allows migration of sites, users, managed metadata and many, many more.
Currently Sharegate supports migration of 30 actions that are present in on premise (source: Nintex FAQ – Sharegate):
|Action Name OnPremises||Mapped Action in Office 365|
|Action Set||Action Set|
|Assign Flexi task||Start a Task Process|
|Build String||Build String|
|Calculate date||Add Time to Date|
|Change state||Change State|
|Check in item||Check In Item|
|Check out item||Check Out Item|
|Commit Pending Changes||---|
|Convert Value||Convert Value|
|Create item||Create List Item|
|Delete item||Delete Item WM Action|
|Discard check out||Discard Check Out Item|
|End workflow||Terminate Current Workflow|
|For Each||For Each|
|Log in history list||Log to History List|
|Loop||Loop with Condition|
|Math operation||Do Calculation|
|Pause for...||Pause For Duration|
|Pause until...||Pause Until|
|Query List||Query List|
|Regular expression||Regular Expression|
|Run if||Run If|
|Run parallel actions||Parallel Block|
|Send notification||Send an email|
|Set a condition||Conditional Branch|
|Set field value||Set field in current item|
|Set variable||Set Workflow Variable|
|Set workflow status||Set Workflow Status|
|State machine||State Machine|
|Twitter Tweet||Twitter Tweet|
|Update item||Update List Item|
|Yammer Message||Yammer Message|
To use Sharegate you have to really review each from your workflows and re-build it, so that you can expect that it will be migrated. Note, that:
- there are some crucial actions, that are totally unsupported but can be “workarouned”.
- there are actions that just cannot be migrated and must be re-created after the migration.
What to do with them? I recommend the following approach:
- user defined actions – During migration they will be replaced with a blank placeholder leaving you with nothing. All actions from inside will be lost. I recommend converting them into a “Run If” action block (which is “migrate-able”) and putting all actions from UDA inside it. Then if I needed to reuse those actions replacing UDAs. Oh, and the rule to execute it was always set to “true”.
- query list must have a defined number of rows to be returned. Field cannot be left empty. Oh, and by default querying list is always “recursive” in O365
action set is not supported as UDA. See point no. 1 how to resolve. for each loop actions are as well not supported as UDA and Action Sets. See point no. 1 how to resolve;
- workflow constants are not supported in Nintex for O365, thus Sharegate cannot migrate them. You should either remove them, turn them into workflow variables or create a SP List to keep them (so if you are using them in many workflows) and then just query the list.
- workflow context variables – some are not supported in Nintex for O365, thus Sharegate cannot migrate them (like the one with Approval Comments). You should either replace them with a workflow variable, or remove because may cause troubles during migration;
- inline functions – are not supported in Nintex for O365, thus Sharegate cannot migrate them. You should either replace them with a workflow variable, or remove because may cause troubles during migration;
- commit pending changes – this action is not present in O365 as the architecture is different. Actions are not grouped and executed with batches. Everything goes synchronously. All such actions should be deleted before.
|On premise action||Office 365 action counterpart||Remarks|
|Query/ Update XML||Query/ Update XML||Actions are not supported because of the architecture differences. Sharegate will migrate them as a blank placeholders.|
|User Profile actions||Office 365 User Profile actions||Sharegate will migrate them as a blank placeholders.|
|flexi task||Start a task process/ Assign a task (based on how many approvers you have)||No "To Do" task either. You cannot set mail priority, you cannot chose to which from "assigned" user the notification will be sent, you cannot delegate (workaround: https://community.nintex.com/community/build-your-own/blog/2015/02/26/delegation-in-o365), you cannot calculate time to send reminder. Oh, and you cannot attach files to the notification message. Some workarounds are possible after the migration, some are not available at all.|
|search query||Office 365 Search Query||Sharegate will migrate it as a blank placeholder.|
|dynamics crm||"Dynamics CRM" actions||Sharegate will migrate it as a blank placeholder.|
|convert document action||"Document Generation"||Sharegate will migrate it as a blank placeholder.|
|set item permissions||Office 365 update item permissions||Sharegate will migrate it as a blank placeholder.|
|Update document||No direct counterpart||Sharegate will migrate it as a blank placeholder.|
|Create item in another site||Office 365 Create List Item or Document Set||Sharegate will migrate it as a blank placeholder.|
|Update/ Delete multiple items||Possibly by some HTTP Request call||Sharegate will migrate it as a blank placeholder.|
|Collection operation||By a proper Collection operation||Actions differs. There is a dedicated "Collection operation" per each operation, not one for all as in on premise. Sharegate will migrate them as a blank placeholders.|
|Store/ Retrieve data||No direct counterpart||There is no possibility for the workflows in O365 to "talk" with each other. Consider change of the workflow design.|
|Start workflow||Start workflow||Action is not supported for migration because of the architecture differences. Sharegate will migrate them as a blank placeholders.|
|Create site collection||By a proper Office 365 create site collection|
|Delete site||By a proper Office 365 delete site|
|Delegate workflow task||By Assign a task and custom work||For example: https://community.nintex.com/community/build-your-own/blog/2015/02/26/delegation-in-o365|
|Request approval||Office 365 set approval status||Action is not supported for migration because of the architecture differences. Sharegate will migrate them as a blank placeholders.|
|And many, many more... Read the attachment.|
Complete list of “non-migratable” actions is listed here: Nintex FAQ – Sharegate.
Limitations of SharePoint Online
One and the most irritating limitations are the thresholds (Software boundaries and limits for SharePoint 2013). And in Online you CANNOT CHANGE THEM Be aware of them and don’t get angry when migrating:
- Workflow file cannot exceed 5MB – (source: https://community.nintex.com/message/57706-re-what-is-the-default-limitation-in-nintex-for-exporting-a-workflow?commentI…) that simply means, it shouldn’t have more than 100 actions inside.
HOWEVER I had a “pleasure” to migrate workflows having like 5 actions without a success and so far I have no idea why Sharegate was reporting errors when migrating.
- Infopath file cannot be larger than 5MB (be aware if you have forms with attachments).
- List/ library cannot hold more than 5.000 items. If you do exceed it during the migration, be prepared to observe abnormal behavior of your tenant.
Limitations of Nintex for Office 365
Those limits have already been described during in the “Sharegate limitations” – those limits are most often caused by the differences in the SharePoint Online hosted environment limitations, thus some actions were just impossible to be re-created and had to be done from a scratch, some has different architecture and cannot be directly migrated. And still, there is a huge lack of functionality in Nintex for Office 365:
There is no conditional start for workflows, however it can be replaced with filter action
There are no site scheduled workflows, but you can workaround it by either using 3rd party: Plumsail Workflow Scheduler or simply work them around: Scheduled Workflows in Office 365;
- When comparing you are more than often not able to verify if a value “is empty”. You can only compare whether it equals or not (but you cannot set equation to nothing );
- No “workflow constants”.
- No “inline functions”.
- No “UDA” actions.
No action sets.
- No support for custom actions.
During the mentioned above conference “Nintex Xchange 2018” Nintex has also announced introduction of “Xtensions” functionality to Office 365, what will bring the possibility of creating your own actions.[/tds_in
Some examples of the mapping for actions from on-prem to online:
|Action in Nintex On premise||Action in Nintex for O365|
|Query LDAP||No such feature available in O365|
|Query Nintex Reporting||No such feature available in O365|
|Capture document set version||Possibly via the "Office 365 Query List", but haven't tested it.|
|Copy to file share||No such feature available in O365|
|Copy to SharePoint||For copying list attachements there is a workaround described in the Community (using Office 365 Upload File action). No feature for copying Infopath attachments.|
|Create item in another site||Office 365 Create List Item or Document Set|
|Create list||No such feature available in O365. Only via REST API.|
|Declare as record||No API set for record declaration in Office 365 as yet, thus no feature available (https://nintex.uservoice.com/forums/218291-3-nintex-workflow-for-office-365/suggestions/4476977-declare-a-record)|
|Set field value||Set Field in Current Item, or in case of different site: Office 365 update items|
|Undeclare as record||No API set for record declaration in Office 365 as yet, thus no feature available (https://nintex.uservoice.com/forums/218291-3-nintex-workflow-for-office-365/suggestions/4476977-declare-a-record)|
|Action set||No such feature available in O365|
|Calculate date||Add Time to Date or Set Time Portion of Date/Time Field|
|Collection operation||This is split. Each operation is a separate action: Add Item to Collection, Check if Item Exists in Collection, Clear Collection, Count Items in Collection, Get Item from Collection, Join Items in Collection, Remove Duplicates from Collection, Remove Item from Collection, Remove Last Item from Collection, Remove Value from Collection, Sort Items in Collection|
|Retrieve data||No such feature available in O365. Only workarounds using ex. saving values on the list and getting them in a second workflow.|
|Store data||No such feature available in O365. Only workarounds using ex. saving values on the list and getting them in a second workflow.|
|Wait for check out status change||No direct counterpart. You can use: Wait for Field Change in Current Item and set ex. "Checked out is equal null".|
|Complete workflow task||No such feature. Only by Update List Item - set Task list item status to "Complete"|
|Delegate workflow task||No such feature. Workaround only: https://community.nintex.com/community/build-your-own/blog/2015/02/26/delegation-in-o365|
|Request approval||No such feature. Workaround only: https://community.nintex.com/community/tech-blog/blog/2016/05/05/no-to-do-or-request-data-tasks-in-o365-no-problem|
|Request data||No such feature. Workaround only: https://community.nintex.com/community/tech-blog/blog/2016/05/05/no-to-do-or-request-data-tasks-in-o365-no-problem|
|Request review||No such feature. Workaround only: https://community.nintex.com/community/tech-blog/blog/2016/05/05/no-to-do-or-request-data-tasks-in-o365-no-problem|
|Task reminder||Feature only available as a configuration inside "Assign a Task" and "Start a task process" actions.|
I just felt that this post cannot end up like this. So there is a hope for all of that. Both Sharegate and Nintex are working to develop their products – Sharegate to support migration for new actions (I heard UDAs and Action Sets are on their roadmap), what is Nintex working on you can find here: 3 – Nintex Workflow for Office 365: Hot (300 ideas) – Customer Feedback for Nintex.
I wish you all all best in your migration projects 🙂
If you have any questions or stories you’d like to share feel free to leave them in comments. I’m sure there are more issues I am not aware of yet 🙂
You can also download a file containing all actions with information whether they are supported or not and possible workarounds:
Hi! I’m Tomasz. I’m a big fan of process automation and business analysis. I’m focusing on expertise my skills in Microsoft technologies especially Office 365, SharePoint, Flow, PowerApps and Nintex products. I have 8+ years of experience working with SharePoint.