Dux and I have been exchanging information as our new SharePoint 2010 course development progresses.
This week I sent some information to him about some of the exercises in a word document as an attachment to an email. This is the kind of thing that happens a lot in any organisation but what happens to the document after it has been sent ? How can we ensure it is stored in the correct location and how do we group this together with related documents that share characteristics such as course number, author name etc.
SharePoint has been providing document management features such as Centralised library storage, Check in / out, versioning and content approval for a long time. SharePoint 2010 adds some interesting new features which will help us with the above.
The first is the content organiser. This allows us to either upload a document or send it via email to a special library known as the ‘drop off library’. The drop off library acts as a starting point from which documents are automatically routed to their destination based on rules that we create through some simple to use dialogs. In my example above the document I sent to Dux can be sent to an email address associated with a drop off library from where it can be routed to a course 1501 library.
Similarly Anna in marketing might have a new course brochure ready and she can also send this to an email address which gets routed to the same 1501 library.
When the document is in its correct location (library) we can use standard document management features such as check in/ out, versioning and content approval to maintain the information integrity.
Over time we might need to move such documents to alternative locations. For example the 1501 document library might start in a general purpose course development site but at an appropriate time need to be moved to a dedicate course 1501 site. If for example Karen and Carl had saved the url of the document I sent in their favourites menu they would not be able to retrieve the document once it had been moved. This can be solved by the use of ‘document ids’. When this feature is enabled a special identifier is assigned to documents within the site collection. Viewing the document properties (see image below) reveals a special URL which is what Karen and Carl should save in their favourites.
Now even when we move the document around and they will be able to open it by using this special URL.
Learning Tree has many courses and each one has lots of associated files. Grouping files by discrete document libraries or folders is one option to keep them together. Another is to use a ‘Document Set ‘. This grouping allows the set to share metadata such as Author name, Course number and can be versioned the way documents are now. In addition if we need to download the documents in a group they can be downloaded as a zip file.
Here we see three documents grouped into the Chapter 1 set
So Much to Learn
From this partial list of new features we can see that each version of SharePoint is bringing more and more ‘ease of use’ features that will require much less traditional code based programming for us to satisfy business requirements.
However SharePoint is an extensible and very flexible platform. If we really need to we can add to and enhance the above features by building workflows, no code (composite) applications or full code based solutions using tools such as Visual studio.
Whichever way you look at it there is a great learning curve here and fortunately we will have some courses to help you out.