BPCUK: ‘Best Practices for Organizing Documents in SharePoint 2010’ with Agnes Molnar

Agnes Molnar presenting at the 2011 European SharePoint Best Practices ConferenceAgnes Molnar explained at the start of her session this afternoon at the European SharePoint Best Practices Conference that, "The goal of my presentation is to provide as many best practices as I can in one hour, based on my experiences with SharePoint in the past few years."  Agnes went on to pack the hour as promised, even to the point of running a couple of minutes long since she had so much information to share.

Discussing the general requirements of document management, Agnes listed: the ability to store, edit, organize, etc.; properties and metadata; version and permission management; workflows; content types; document templates; extensibility; and searchability / findability.

SharePoint 2010-specific document management capabilities Agnes called out included: document libraries and folders; content types; document sets; metadata management; document IDs; workflows; Content Organizer rules; Office 2010 integration; Office Web Apps; and SharePoint Workspace 2010.

Asking "What does it mean to organize documents?" Agnes mentioned that it's possible to organize by location, properties and metadata, content types, workflows, and more.  She then demonstrated some document properties within a project documents demo site and how it's possible to filter results via the search refiners navigation pane that's available in the left rail and which filter based on metadata associated with the documents.  Agnes cautioned, however, that "In SharePoint 2010, this navigation pane is only available on document libraries and lists."

Addressing the difference between folders and document sets in SharePoint 2010 from a location standpoint, Agnes first explained that document sets enable users to collaborate on related documents without having to create a new document library or site.  Returning to her project documents demo environment, Agnes created a new document set and showed the resulting, customized page. 

Providing a sidebar on the document ID (a unique ID for each document in a site collection which can also be configured to be unique farm-wide as well), Agnes explained that the goal of the document ID is that the URL referencing it is persistent, and changing the name or location of the file won't break the URL (as it would in the case of, say, having sent a filename-based URL to a colleague). 

Returning to the document set in her demo, Agnes showed that you can define default content for a document set so that immediately upon the creation of a brand new document set, there may be documents already present when you view it for the first time (because they met the default requirements for inclusion).  "You can also define workflows, not only on the [included] documents, but on the document set as well," Agnes said, adding that permissions will, of course, be inherited.

Document sets don't have all the capabilities of folders, however, as Agnes explained.  Only "one level" of documents can exist in a document set (i.e., neither folders nor another document set can exist within a document set).  "Properties, and creating views based on properties, are the only ways to organize content within a document set," Agnes said, whereas folders can have subfolders with document sets existing at each and every sub-level folder if desired.

Explaining that "Metadata properties can be defined in a centralized way," Agnes provided a demo in which she showed a metadata tree which had been created in a centralized manner, e.g., partner locations by continent, country, city, etc.  Agnes then went on to demonstrate that these same term sets are available for use when a new site column is created.

Agnes recommends as a best practice that you create content types at the highest level possible since they're inherited by (and available to) lower sites.  Providing a demo in which she added a template to a content type, Agnes shared another best practice: "Create a new library for the templates" so when it needs to be updated, end users can do it themselves (and have changes available for their use immediately) rather than needing to involve the site admin. Agnes cautioned that in order for this to work, you'll need to assign the same content type to the template that will be used in the document library.  What this means is that you can't just leave the content type as the default setting, but need to change it to match the content type in use within the document library.

Running out of time, Agnes wrapped up her session by providing a brief Content Organizer demo, explaining that with this feature, "It's possible to give end users a 'big red button' to upload documents." The Content Organizer will automatically move the uploaded documents to the correct library based on predefined properties, relieving the end user of needing to worry about uploading to the correct location.


Read our complete coverage of the European SharePoint Best Practices Conference:

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