Ian Billage

I am running workflow on Visual Studio 2005 and Windows XP.

We are designing a state machine worklow for data entry using a custom workflow library. We are experiencing issues with the responsiveness of the workflow designer as we add more custom state activities to the workflow. One example has 29 state activities on it and it is now taking upwards of 5 minutes for the designer to open a declarative rule condition dialog on a 2.4 Ghz Pentium 4 processor machine with 1.25gb of RAM. On a faster machine (Core 2 duo 6600 with 3Gb of RAM) it is still taking around 2 minutes.

Does anyone know of the cause of these issues and can you suggest a way of improving this

Re: Windows Workflow Foundation Workflow Designer Performance Issue

Jon Flanders

Ian - I've done alot of work to try to make the designer to load larger workflows faster. There isn't much you can do - but make sure that none of your properties on any of your activites are doing any sort of runtime behavior - like database access or error logging. Since each of the activities in your workflow get created - and all the properties get checked at design time. Other than that - there isn't much you can do.

Re: Windows Workflow Foundation Workflow Designer Performance Issue

Ian Billage

Jon - The Issue is not with loading large workflows into the designer, that is ok here. (Saving on the other hand...)

The issue is that when we try to add a declarative code condition, to an ifElse branch say, we are experiencing a debilatating delay.

Our state machine has ~450 Activities in ~ 30 States

Steps to reproduce:

  1. Within an event handler create an ifElse activity.
  2. Highlight a branch and move to the properties pane
  3. Choose declarative condition and expand the condition
  4. Double click on the elipsess
  5. Click the New... button on the Ruleset Editior that is shown
  6. The mouse cursor flickers between a normal pointer and the hour glass - watch this for between 5-8 mins, make tea etc
  7. A modal form appears where you enter your condition.

If you move the design surface back to the global state machine workflow view and then re-enter the event handler and try to set a ifElse branch condition the massive delay is again evident.

This is really hampering our uptake of Workflow as productivity is being seriously impaired.

Re: Windows Workflow Foundation Workflow Designer Performance Issue

Steve Danielson

Hi Ian,

One thing that might give you some relief is if any custom activities that the workflow uses are in a seperate assembly than the workflow that hosts the activities. You say that you are using custom state activities. Is it possible to move these into a seperate activity library project The designer needs to have compiled types and if it is referencing custom types that are in the current project then the designer has to go and create a temporary type for these that it can use so it can render in the designer.

Steve Danielson [Microsoft]
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Re: Windows Workflow Foundation Workflow Designer Performance Issue

Alan Smith MVP


I've found the workflow designer to be quite sluggish when running in Vista using the Aero-Glass graphics settings. If I change the settings to run the lowest graphics options it seems to run a lot faster. (I'm running on quite old hardware, so that's probably the main performance issue in my case.)