Direct Reply to a Discussion in a SharePoint 2010 Display Form Using SharePoint Designer 2010

Built into the framework of SharePoint is a powerful communication tool called Discussion Boards.  Think of Discussion Boards in terms of a forum, where an initial topic is introduced and users can then provide feedback (called Replies) to that topic. But how do you keep the communication going without wasting time manually monitoring each topic? Luckily, SharePoint provides an alerting mechanism that’s built right into Discussion Boards. Users can optionally choose to be alerted on a given Discussion Board or topic. Upon doing so, the user will receive alerts based on the configuration of the alert, most commonly when a reply to a topic has been created. The Alert looks something like this.

One of the added benefits of the alert message is the Quick Links at the top of the window which allows you to quickly navigate to certain areas in the site.  The most beneficial link is the middle one that will take you directly to the Reply.

Unfortunately, the window that’s displayed doesn’t provide an option to directly reply from this screen. You have to click the Browse tab in the Ribbon, then go up one level in the breadcrumb, select the Topic, and click Reply in the appropriate location. As you can tell, it’s not exactly the most straightforward process.

In this article, however, I will provide you with instructions on how to create a custom action button in Ribbon to create direct replies using SharePoint Designer 2010. To start, you will need to download and install the free SharePoint Designer 2010 product from Microsoft.

Next, we want to upload the images to associate with the custom action button.  We recommend that you upload these images into a Picture library on the same site as your Discussion Board. To get you started, save the below images to your local drive, then upload them to your new Picture Library.

Next, we will open the SharePoint site in SharePoint Designer.  The quickest method is to go to your SharePoint site, select the Page tab in the Ribbon, then under the Edit option, select Edit Site in SharePoint Designer.

Now that we have SharePoint Designer open, click on Lists and Libraries under the Navigation > Site Objects area on the left-hand side of your window.

Here we’re going to use a Team Discussion list that I’ve created for demonstration purposes:

With the Team Discussion list loaded, in order to create other types of Custom Actions, we will need to use the Custom Action menu in the Ribbon UI to do what we are looking to do.

Now it’s time to add the Custom Button to the SharePoint 2010 Ribbon. First, we are going to start with the Display Form Ribbon. To start creating one of these, click on the Custom Action button in the Ribbon and select Display Form Ribbon.

By doing so, we see the familiar Create Custom Action window pop-up. Input the Name you want to display in the Ribbon for the action and the Description that will be displayed in the Tooltip of the custom action. Next, in the section Select the type of Action, select Navigate to URL and enter the URL with the format: {SiteUrl}/Lists/Team%20Discussion/NewForm.aspx?RootFolder={ItemUrl}&ContentTypeId=0x0107&DiscussionParentID={ItemId}

Optionally you can also enter an absolute URL, but this is not optimal, especially if you have multiple Web Applications hitting the same content database:

Next, scroll down in the window, and in Advance custom action options, enter the links of the images we uploaded to the Picture Library. We are going to specify 32×32 images so that we have a fancy little icon to go with our button. We could use a 16×16, but that would be quite small, and since we’re on the Ribbon, 32×32 is a better choice.

Right Mask allows you to assign permissions to those who can actually see this custom action. This value comes from SPBasePermissions class enumerator. You can use this setting Ribbon.ListForm.Display.Manage.Controls_children.  For more information, see this Microsoft article:

Sequence number: The best practice is to use anything over 10,000.

Once we are set with this, let’s click on OK on the Custom Action Wizard, at which point you will see a new item in the Custom Action section in Designer:

Now we will get a modal dialog window with the Display Form to which we linked our Custom Action. As you will see, we now have a new icon in our View Ribbon which shows the Reply Discussion icon, as well as the title of the Custom Action.

By clicking on this, you will be able to reply to the discussion as well.

I hope you found this article to be informative and helpful. Please let me know what you think, or leave a question regarding this material in the comments, and I will answer them as soon as I can.

In my next post, I’m going to implement a program for this feature. We will be able to apply it to a list template type and specify any SharePoint site you want.

Until next time, happy to reply to your discussions! Smile


Ngoc Mai
re: Direct Reply to a Discussion in a SharePoint 2010 Display Form Using SharePoint Designer 2010
on Tue, Jul 10 2012 12:12 AM

Thanks, it’s a helpful blog!

Ngoc Mai
re: Direct Reply to a Discussion in a SharePoint 2010 Display Form Using SharePoint Designer 2010
on Tue, Jul 10 2012 12:13 AM

Thanks, it’s a helpful blog!

re: Direct Reply to a Discussion in a SharePoint 2010 Display Form Using SharePoint Designer 2010
on Thu, Apr 10 2014 9:56 PM


I am very new to SP 2010 and came across this post.

I can’t figure out how to find {ItemUrl} and {ItemID}.



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