After catching up with a few folks over coffee in the registration area this morning, I kicked off my first San Francisco edition of SPTechCon with Paul Swider‘s half-day workshop on Document Management in SharePoint 2010. Paul’s one of the speakers who will be participating in the Sharing the Point tour of Asia that I’ll be covering next month, and most of the other speakers who will be on the tour are also speaking at SPTechCon this week, so I’m going to do the best I can to cover at least one session each of them in the coming days.
As is his custom when presenting, Paul limited his use of PowerPoint to just a handful of slides, preferring to concentrate on spending time with the technology itself via a series of ad hoc demos on his trusty virtual server. Paul laid out an ambitious agenda at the start of the session and, though a couple of the intended topics weren’t covered in as much depth as others due to time constraints, his session proved to be hugely informative and highly interactive, with Paul taking questions from the audience throughout the three-and-a-half hour workshop.
Paul formally began showing a slide asking “What is Information Architecture?” and providing a definition, of which he said “I know this definition is 100% accurate … because I got it from Wikipedia.” That line got the expected laughs, but Paul went on to say that Wikipedia really does get it right in this case, and pointed out that IA is “a broad term, and not specific to SharePoint.” The goal of IA, Paul stated, is to “Look at all of the info in your organization, find ways to manage it, plan and sometimes, quite frankly, just avoid crisis.”
Discussing content management, Paul said there are two categories: Enterprise Content Management (ECM) which is comprised of “everything that goes into managing all the stuff on your network,” and Web content management. ECM was the focus of the workshop and, further narrowing that focus, Paul explained that we’d specifically be looking at document management, which is comprised not just of Word and Excel files, but can include PDFs, AutoCAD drawings, images, and much more. As Paul said of these various content types, “document management is about bringing sense and order to all that stuff.” Important new ECM features Paul described as being available in 2010 included: significant investments in both platform and features; metadata everywhere; managed metadata; advanced routing; document sets, and a unique document ID service.
Moving on to document libraries, Paul suggested they could be thought of as “Web-based file folders on steroids.” Some of the new features of lists and libraries that Paul mentioned as being available in 2010 were: large lists (50 million items with multicolumn indexes); list relationships with referential integrity; data validation; and document sets.
Before beginning his demos, Paul said that in times of frustration, it might be helpful to remember that “A SharePoint site contains three things: lists, Web Parts, and pages … really, it is that simple.”
The first thing Paul demonstrated was creating a new team collaboration site, pointing out that a Shared Documents library is created default when doing so. Paul often deletes this library out of hand because, even if you rename it, the URL (with the name “shared documents” in it) does not change. Paul’s recommendation is to delete the default library and create a new one, named appropriately for your needs.
Demonstrating the creation of a new document library, Paul showed that two tabs appear under Library Tools in the Ribbon, one named Documents and one named Library. Settings for the library are managed via the Library Settings button in Ribbon. Once a list gets over 5,000 items, there will be a visual band at the top warning that it’s a large list, with information provided on how to manage such a list. Paul spent time discussing Versioning Settings, including Content Approval, Document Version History (no versioning, major versions, major and minor, or draft, versions). Paul said that “While a document is in draft mode, it’s not available for others to see in the list” unless that permission is granted via the Draft Item Security settings. Paul cautioned that “When SharePoint stores a version of a document, it stores the entire document … not differentials,” and this is something to be aware of in regards to disk space. Within the Library Settings, you can optionally limit the number of versions to maintain.
Paul went on to demonstrate turning on content approval, and opting to create major and minor versions, with check out set to No. In response to a question, Paul demonstrated opening a Windows Explorer view of a library, and how you can drag and drop files into the library. He also pointed out a potential gotcha in that doing so leaves those documents in a checked out mode if there’s a required piece of metadata associated with a given file (since that metadata needs to be provided).
Returning to his demo, Paul hovered over a document to see the version history of the document he dragged into his new library via Windows Explorer. After clicking Publish major version, it still showed a minor version in the version history because content approval had been turned on, and that approval was necessary in order to promote the document to a major version. Once Paul granted the necessary approval, the major version appeared.
Paul then added a metadata column, and showed that the new field appears when editing the document. Having done so, the version goes back to draft status because “If I’ve changed the metadata, I’ve changed the document.”
Returning to settings with the Document Library Advanced Settings, Paul discussed Content Types, Document Template, default open behavior when opening documents in the browser, Custom Send to Destination (a default list is available, but new destinations can be added, as Paul showed), and Folders. Regarding document management and the debate over folders versus no folders, Paul said that “All these things I’m showing you about the doc library don’t exist at the folder level.”
Paul then discussed and demonstrated metadata navigation settings, the “ability to navigate content based on metadata” which is available in the left rail once it’s been turned on. First a column needs to be created to capture that metadata for “navigation hierarchies,” which Paul then demonstrated.
Paul flatly stated that “Document libraries are the foundation of any document management system using SharePoint,” then went on to say that the “Second most important thing is content types, because content types give us a way to formally define the content that we’re managing in SharePoint and help us bring a sense of order to all that stuff we’re managing.” “They allow us to formally define the type of content that we’re going to manage in SP, and they’re made up of settings and properties.” Some uses for content types include policies, documentation, user manuals, and training. “Content types are hierarchical as well, so they’re based on parent content types,” Paul said, and “One of the base content types is called document [which is] at the very top level of content types … the only thing you need for something to be a document is a title.”
Paul then performed an extended demo of content types within a document center, showing that the content type gallery is found under Site Settings -> Site Content Types. Paul said that every site has a content type gallery, and shared as a best practice that you “create your content types at the highest level possible because you can get the most use out of them since you can use them in all of the subsites.” Paul then created a new content type at a top-level site, giving it a name, selecting a parent content type of Document (you must select a parent content type since they’re hierarchical), and put the new content type into a Group. Once created, a title column already exists since the content type was inherited from the Document content type. Paul then created a new column for Policy Number as a number field, and went on to create another for Policy Type.
Next it was necessary to bind the new content types to the library that will use them. This can be done with existing libraries, but Paul demonstrated it with a newly created one (titled Customer Documents). Then, in Library Settings -> Advanced Settings -> he selected Allow management of content types. On the settings screen, a new section called content types appeared. Clicking the link for Add from existing content types, Paul selected from the group we assigned (SPTechCon), and then added the content type to the document library. Once done, an option for Policy (“Create a new Policy”) appeared as a New Document drop down item.
Paul then attached a template to the content type via Site Actions -> Site Settings -> Site Content Types Gallery -> Create new content type (Paul calls his Sales Policy) then selected the same SPTechCon group, and our Policy content type as the parent content type (so it would inherit from Policy), and we then saw that Title, Policy Number, and Policy Type now appear as columns that have been carried over. Paul then added a new site column for Region. Under Advanced Settings, Paul went on to bind the template to the content type. For the Document Template field, you can enter the URL of an existing document template, so Paul created a Word doc to save as the template, noting as a best practice to “Store templates in a library at the top level.” To do so, Paul created a new library called Templates, and uploaded the template (Word doc) there, at which point he was able to enter the resulting URL of the template into the Template field, and the binding was complete. At this point Sales Policy now appeared as a dropdown under the New Document button within the library, the clicking of which will load the Word template. As Paul said, “Just that alone helps us to bring sense and order to our content.”
Paul showed that you can add a Workflow to a content type (via the content type gallery) to kick off a workflow anytime a content type of that type is created. This allows for multiple workflows that fire off from the same document library (i.e., different content type polices, with different workflows). We then took a brief look at Auditing options available, about which Paul said, “You purchase yourself manageability. Make a change in one place and that change is reflected everywhere you use that content type.”
Moving on to document sets, Paul defined them as “A compound document [which] can contain multiple documents.” Paul also said that “A document set is a content type, it inherits from a folder which can hold multiple items.” Paul demonstrated creating a new content type for Purchase Proposal, inheriting from the Document Set content, and showed that it’s managed just like any other content type, albeit with an additional link for Document set settings. Paul explained that content types can be added to the document set, the document set’s home page can be customized, and more. In Library Settings, Paul added a document set content type, then went back to the library, at which point we saw the Purchase Proposal now available in the drop down for New Document as an option. Of the document set home page, Paul said that you can “Treat it like a mini-document library or folder” and add to it as necessary. You can even have workflows that kick off from the document set itself, or from the individual content types included therein.
Another key feature Paul demonstrated was the Content Organizer, or the content router as Paul refers to it. In the Content Organizer settings, you can specify that users use the organizer when submitting new content. The organizer then routes the content according to the rules you have defined. Content Organizer is a site-level feature that needs to be turned on to become available in Settings. Paul demonstrated the creation of rules (assign name, select rule status and priority, select content type, and conditions, which provide additional granularity, and Target Location which, ultimately, is where to place content that matches the defined rule). Once turned on, a Drop Off Library is created and that’s the one-stop location where users can put all of their content, confident in the knowledge that the system will route it to the appropriate final destination. Users can email to the Drop Off Library, browse there from Word, upload documents to it directly, or however they prefer.
With time rapidly running out, Paul spent some time in the Managed Metadata Store, which is managed through Central Admin -> Service Applications -> Managed Metadata Service. Paul showed that you can define groups, which contain term sets, which contain terms, which are used to tag content with metadata. Terms can be imported from a spreadsheet or programmatically, and are defined at the very top level, but can also be worked with at the site level (via Term Store Management within a subsite, where terms applicable to that subsite can be managed directly). Group Managers can be defined, giving select individuals permission to manage terms within their site. Regarding “The ability to have a global taxonomy available for tagging metadata,” Paul said, “If I had to pick a third most important aspect of document management, it would be this.”
Paul wrapped up the workshop with a brief demo of workflows, showing how to use SharePoint Designer to manage a complex workflow approval process. Paul opted to create a Reusable Workflow. Once created, he showed that “There’s a new Action Start Approval Process.” Clicking on this, Paul explained that “It’s actually like a workflow within a workflow … I can change the conditions of any task, or the overall task process, and I can change what happens when the task process starts, when it’s canceled, or deleted.” At the conclusion of his demo, Paul said that “You’ll be surprised how quickly you can create your own approval process.”
Read our complete coverage of SPTechCon San Francisco 2011:
- Document Management from A to Z, with Paul Swider
- The SharePoint Journey, with Tony Lanni
- Jared Spataro’s Keynote on ‘Your SharePoint Journey: Maximizing Your Investment’
- Robert Bogue Declares ‘SharePoint Workflow is Evil’ & Asks SPTechCon Attendees to Help Get Him in Trouble with Microsoft
- Robert Bogue Demonstrates ‘How Workflow Works… and How it Breaks’
- Owen Allen Makes the Case for ‘SharePoint as a Platform for Business Applications’
- Michael Noel on ‘Building the Perfect SharePoint 2010 Farm: Real World Best Practices from the Field’
- Joel Oleson’s ‘SharePoint 2010 Service Architecture Drilldown’
- ‘Customizing the Social Aspects of SharePoint’ with Michael Doyle
- Scott Jamison on ‘Social Computing Best Practices in SharePoint 2010’