Failed To Load Workflow Error in SharePoint Designer

Ok I thought I’d post on this because it stumped me for close to 2 hours. So in my scenario, I have a WSS 3.0 installation with several SharePoint Designer workflows built. Many of these workflows use the Useful SharePoint Designer Custom Workflow Activities solution available on codeplex. After doing a migration from one server to another, I found that when I attempted to open up my workflows that contained those custom activities, I would get an error:

Failed to load workflow.

Really frustrating error because it gives you absolutely nothing to go on. I do want to mention that I also tried building a brand new workflow and selecting one of these custom workflow activities and the behavior was odd. If i tried to add one as an ACTION inside my workflow designer, nothing would happen. No error, but the activity wasn’t added to the step either. It was as if my click/selection had no effect.

So I made the decision to completely remove and reinstall the custom activities. The codeplex solution comes nicely packaged using the SharePoint Installer, so all I had to do was run a remove and then a reinstall. Normally, a final step to getting this working according to the InstallGuide.txt is to:

Go to Central Administration -> Application Management -> Manage Web Application Features and activate the feature for desired web applications (usually it’s Sharepoint – 80 or Sharepoint – 443).

The odd thing was that I found this step was already done for me and the solution was listed as already deployed. So back to SharePoint Designer I went, double clicked on the .xoml file, damn, same error! I found several blog posts indicating that I should clear the SharePoint Designer cache. So I closed down SD, deleted the folders starting with 12.x.x.x and loaded SD back up. I tried to open my xoml file, still no luck, same error.

At this point I was getting pretty confused. I manually did a check of the Assembly to make sure it contained the DP.SharePoint.Workflow dll, I double checked the Features folder to make sure it contained the DP.SharePoint.Workflow folder and I make sure the .ACTIONS file was contained within the Workflow folder and that the permissions on it were not wonky. I also verified the web.config contained the safe control entries for that dll. All looked good to me.

FINALLY, I decided to compare my web.config against the old server’s web.config to make sure that I wasn’t missing anything. I did a quick search on DP and found that the old web.config contained one more entry than my new web.config did:

<authorizedType Assembly="DP.Sharepoint.Workflow, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=0298457208daed83" Namespace="DP.Sharepoint.Workflow" TypeName="*" Authorized="True" />

So it would appear that I was missing this authorized type necessary for custom workflow activities. How or why this did not get added when I did my reinstall, I have no idea. But once that entry was added back, I was good to go again. My workflows open just fine without error.

I hope this helps someone else out there!


11 Responses to “Failed To Load Workflow Error in SharePoint Designer”

  1. Fabian Muñoz August 18, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Thank you so much for this post!, I had the most annoying time looking everywhere and it took me an entire day to get to this blog and find the answer.

  2. Pujan Amatya October 23, 2011 at 5:36 am #

    Thanks a lot. I had a same problem and your solution worked for me.

  3. Kathy December 22, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    Thanks for sharing your solution. It worked for me as well.

    Thanks again!

  4. shereen December 23, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    No problem Kathy! Glad it helped.

  5. Karthik Nallajalla February 14, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    This really saved my time. It’s so wired to see authorizedType tag gets disappeared in web.config file. is this issue happened to you again after you resolved it? I want to figure out the root cause of this issue.Anyway Thanks.

  6. shereen February 15, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    Very happy to hear it helped Karthik, I spent a great deal of time on this and was not able to determine why it disappears. If anyone happens across this and has an idea, we’d love to hear it!

  7. maisel May 23, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    Your solution worked for me too — thanks!

  8. Renjith December 22, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    I got exactly the same error now in SP 2010. I was working on the dev server using a remote desktop session. I had changed my account password and that is when these errors started coming up. Somewhere I read that the account may not have enough permissions but that cannot be the case because I am a site collection administrator. So the only thing that changed was my password. And looks like SharePoint designer was trying to use the old password to connect to SharePoint web services and that was failing. I tried deleting the SharePoint designer cache and the error was still there. Then I logged off the remote desktop and logged-in again and that did the trick. All the workflows worked as expected.

  9. Rome January 12, 2016 at 8:13 pm #

    Look at this site:


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