I recently had an interesting issue with a client’s SharePoint environment that I wanted to share in order to hopefully help someone else out as it wasn’t the most intuitive cause.  What do you do when you try to save list items or InfoPath-customized list items and it fails?  It turned out to be really simple if you know what to look for.

Troubleshooting InfoPath Submit or Item Saving Issues in SharePoint

Symptoms

The client reported one symptom to me but I was able to determine the other with some troubleshooting.  They were:

  1. The client had a list that was customized with InfoPath list forms, the user would try to save them form but the form would hang and present the message “sending data to the server”.
  2. I tried turning off the customized InfoPath list form and reverted to default list item forms. This didn’t work either, but instead when the user clicked Save the button just grayed out and hangs.  If the user hit back on the browser, he/she would see the items newly created (assuming new form).
  3. This was happening on multiple lists, and on both lists I noticed a very large number of columns.
  4. Workflows that were to start on item create didn’t seem to be firing either.

Troubleshooting

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As I noted above, my first test was to rule out InfoPath. 

  1. “What Changed"?”
    1. Always always always your first question to ask in a situation like this is “Did you change anything with the functionality?” and the answer was no. 
  2. I cracked open the InfoPath form and it looked pretty simple, no weird or nasty data connections or dropdowns. 
  3. I turned off the custom InfoPath form and it still failed, but gave a different symptom.
  4. I created a new basic custom list and I was able to save list items. Ok good, but why? 
  5. I cleared the SharePoint timer cache and this did not help. A reboot might be in order and actually likely would have fixed the issue.  Let me explain.

What I remembered at this point was that both of the lists with issues had SharePoint 2013 engine workflows.  My new test list didn’t, and it would save fine, interesting.  This led to the resolution.

The Fix

I got on the SharePoint server, and opened up the 2013 workflow engine powershell command prompt.  I ran Get-WFFarmStatus and got this:

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Ah ha!  Now we’re getting somewhere.  I went into Windows Services and looked at all automatic servers and found that both Service Bus services, one Forefront Identity Service and the Workflow Service Backend service were all stopped.  I started them all and after testing again, everything worked fine.

The item would be created and when the 2013 workflow engine tried to fire the workflow, since the engine was busted the workflow trigger seemed to interfere with the item save process.  This is why a reboot of the server would have likely fixed it since it would have started the services.