Brett Lonsdale on ‘Utilizing Roll Up Web Parts in SharePoint 2010’ at the SharePoint 2010 Evolution Conference

Brett Lonsdale presents his session on 'Utilizing Roll Up Web Parts in SharePoint 2010' at the SharePoint 2010 Evolution ConferenceAt the SharePoint 2010 Evolution Conference Monday afternoon, Brett Lonsdale of Lightning Tools presented a demo of the various roll-up Web Parts available out of the box in SharePoint 2010. With just an hour to demo the Content Query Web Part, Data View Web Part, Relevant Documents Web Part, and RSS Viewer Web Part, Brett had his work cut out for him. Nevertheless, Brett deftly fit everything into his presentation without its feeling rushed, and even took a moment to discuss third party rollup options, generously pointing out Bamboo (a Lightning Tools competitor) as a provider of one such option with our SharePoint List Roll Up Web Part, before wrapping up the session with a short Q&A.

Addressing the “why” of the concept behind roll-ups, Brett said, “how many of you still rely on email … because the information comes to us?” With the roll-up Web Parts, and particularly those with audience targeting functionality, “the whole idea is to aggregate content from wherever it may be in the site collection and display it in one location.”

In addition to rolling up SharePoint lists and libraries, Brett pointed out that among the other types of content that can be rolled up with these Web Parts are: XML; RSS (including external data sources); Web Services (via the Data View Web Part); and data from databases.

Beginning with the Content Query Web Part, Brett pointed out that it allows you to aggregate from SharePoint lists and libraries from within the current site collection; filter by content types; add additional columns easily; choose the presentation style from the Style Library; create a custom XSL style. Within his Content Query Web Part demo, Brett showed the UI and aggregation capabilities, walking through each of the sections in the tool pane and showing the resulting UI of the rolled-up content. Some of the tool panes feature that Brett demonstrated included: the Query and Presentation sections, both of which he pointed out were unique to this Web Part; the tree view popup display that allows you to choose from available sites in the collection from which to roll up content; custom lists, which can also be rolled up, and for which Brett advises using a Content-Type in conjunction with the custom list for filtering purposes); audience targeting (“a great way of just seeing relevant information”); and the XSL style sheets in the Style Library, also pointing out that it’s possible to customize them by exporting the XSL code, editing as desired, then importing the modified Web Part code back in.

Moving on to the Data View Web Part, Brett listed as among the types of content which can be rolled up with it: linked data sources; SOAP services; REST services; and Web services. Opening up SharePoint Designer for his demo of the Data View Web Part, Brett showed how to set up data source properties and to connect to them, pointing out that this is not as useful as the Content Query Web Part because it has to be reconfigured in SharePoint Designer every time a new list is added. Brett also pointed out that in the latest (i.e., not the release version) build of SharePoint Designer 2010, you can currently only connect to data sources from the current site. As the 2007 version of SharePoint Designer allows you to connect to data sources that reside in sites other than the current site, it’s expected that this feature will be present in the release version in a few weeks (and Brett / Lightning Tools have helpfully communicated the lack of this feature in the most recent build to Microsoft already).

Next up was the Relevant Documents Web Part demo, with Brett pointing out that this Web Part provides more information about the content than does the Content Query Web Part, including when the content in question was last modified, and where it’s located. As its name implies, Brett mentioned that with the Relevant Documents Web Part, “you can pick and choose which documents you want to see.”  This is accomplished via the Data section of the tool pane, and one example of how to serve up the data is to only show documents created by you.

Brett said of the RSS Viewer Web Part that it’s “a useful Web Part if you do want to go outside of the current site collection.” Under the RSS Properties in the tool pane, you’ll find the RSS Feed URL section which is where you’ll enter the URL of the desired RSS feed to display. Naturally, the RSS Viewer Web Part also works for RSS-enabled lists and libraries within the current site collection. Also included in the tool pane is an XSL editor which allows you, via editing the code, to change the look of how the RSS feed is displayed on your site.

Among the roll-up options other than the demonstrated out-of-the-box Web Parts, Brett mentioned that custom development is always an option, as are cross-site collection roll-up Web Parts from several third-party vendors. As noted above, Brett mentioned Bamboo (and Quest as well) before saying with a grin, “just to show I’m being fair, we also have one, but I’m mentioning the other two first.” Top man, Brett.

Read our complete coverage of the SharePoint 2010 Evolution Conference:

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