SharePoint 2010 Cookbook: Document Sets for a Document Library

SharePoint 2010 delivers a comprehensive set of document management features. In this post, we will take a look at one of the new Document Library features: Document Sets.

Challenge

In many situations, you want to have the ability to manage multiple documents in your SharePoint document library as a single entity. For example, you might have the following:

  • A marketing brochure that contains image files, source files created in Adobe applications, and final output in PDF.
  • Manufacturing part documents that contain CAD drawings, specifications, and assembly instructions.

While working on these documents, you want to be able to perform functions like check in, check out, version control, and update the document properties of the entire set at the same time, and not have to deal with management of individual documents.

Solution

SharePoint 2010 Server provides the new Document Sets feature that you can use to group documents together and perform the required functions in a single task. In order to use the Document Sets feature, follow these steps:

Step 1: Enable Document Sets feature at the site collection level

  • Go to Site Settings > Site Collection Features
  • Make sure to activate the Document Sets feature

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Step 2: Enable Document Sets for the Document Library

Next, you will need to activate the Document Sets feature at the Site Collection level (this feature is disabled by default), and then add the built-in Document Set content type to your document library. Follow these steps:

  • Go to the Document Library where you want to activate the Document Sets feature
  • On the Ribbon, click on the Library Tools > Library
  • Select the Library Settings
  • Click on Advanced Settings

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  • Select Yes for the Allow management of content types setting, then press OK
  • Go back to the main Document Library Settings page

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  • Click on the Add from existing site content types link

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  • Add the Document Set content type to the current document library
  • Once the content type has been added, you can begin to use Document Sets in your document library

Step 3: Create Document Sets

Once the Document Sets feature has been enabled for your document library, you can start to create new items based on this content type.

  • Select the document library, click on the arrow next to the New Document icon in the ribbon, and then select Document Set:

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  • Enter the name and description of the new Document Set:

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  • The new document set will now appear as an item in your document library:

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Step 4: Using Document Sets

You can start using the document set by clicking on the item. When you open a document set, its “Welcome Page” will render. From this page, you can then select the appropriate menu on the Ribbon to manage its properties, perform file uploads, version control, etc.

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Some of the nifty features that you can use with a Document Set are:

  • Create and assign a unique workflow to the document set.
  • Perform revision control over the entire set of documents.
  • Create common metadata properties at the document set level.
  • Customize the Ribbon interface for the document set.

Notes

One important thing to realize is that a Document Set is based on Content Type, and is actually a folder content type. If you are familiar how Content Type works, then you known that extensive customization of your Document Set can be done.

Document Set Versioning: The versioning of the document set is independent of the versioning of its contents. It really has no connection or control over the individual files. This might be helpful to bear in mind as you are creating/changing versions of the logical document set entity.

Document Set Workflow: You can create a workflow either on the document set or on each individual document.

Note: Document Sets have the following limitations of which you should be aware:

  • Document Sets are only available in SharePoint 2010 Server and are not part of the SharePoint Foundation 2010. This also means that the programing object model (SPFolder) is part of the SharePoint 2010 Server API and not available in the Foundation OM.
  • You cannot create a Folder within a Document Set. Beware that the UI will not prevent you from doing this, but folders are not supported and likely will not work as you think they should.
  • You cannot create metadata navigation in a Document Set.
  • Since Document Set is being treated as a Folder, which is treated as such when you deal with operations like Record Management and File Upload.  It’s a little bit inconsistent from the document-centric point of view.
  • You cannot send a Document Set larger than 50MB using the Send To command.
  • In general, beware when you create and use very large Document Sets (thousands of items), as the limitation and performance factor of viewing and displaying the list will be a factor.
  • Download the entire document set. This is a very useful feature that did not make it into this release of SharePoint 2010. If you select the entire document set, you will notice that the “Download a Copy” button is grayed out. Fortunately, there are instructions available to add a custom button in the ribbon to add this feature. Please refer to the See Also section below.

See Also

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