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Using Lookup Columns in SharePoint 2010 to Access Information Related to Specific Data

This is a concluding blog post on a video tutorial for SharePoint 2010, Configuring Lookup Columns authored by Asif Rehmani, SharePoint MVP and MCT.

By configuring the “Customer Name” column to “Allow multiple values” it is possible, as Asif Rehmani demonstrates in this video tutorial, to display one customer along with a purchase history. The ID for the customer will likely stay the same, as will his or her geographical location (the “zipcode” column). Each item purchased, for example, will be imported from the external customer list when “Allow multiple values has been configured for the column which will display the information. A word of caution, if, at a later time one decides to disable this configuration option, then only the first lookup value will be published on the local list. All of the other values will be discarded.

Another useful configuration option for a lookup column in SharePoint 2010 is to “Enforce unique values.” When this configuration setting is enabled, the risk of duplicate entries to a list appearing when values are fetched from a remote list will at least be limited, if not entirely removed. As we point out in this video tutorial, a SharePoint alert will be presented to a user enabling this feature on the system procedure to create an index of the list. Of course, this step is required to successfully enforce unique values criteria on imported data. The terms of this enforcement, as Asif Rehmani explains in this video, will only permit the system to associate one unique customer per contact as the system builds the contacts list from the customer list in this tutorial.

The lookup column feature of SharePoint 2010 can be useful where line of business (LoB) information (the sales customer list and the contact list requirement included in this example) is accessible to SharePoint users. If the data exists in spreadsheet format, then it may not be necessary to implement Business Connectivity Services (BCS) to pull the data into SharePoint. It will certainly be less expensive, from a licensing standpoint, as well.

Ira Michael Blonder

© Rehmani Consulting, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved