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Use SharePoint Designer 2010 to Ensure that List and Site Column Data is Included for All Lists

As noted on Microsoft® MSDN in a library entry, “Introduction to [SharePoint] Columns”, site and list columns are defined as ” represent[ing] an attribute, or piece of metadata, that the user wants to manage for the items in the list or content type to which they added the column.” This library entry goes on to differentiate site and list columns. A site column “is a reusable column definition, or template, that you can assign to multiple lists across multiple SharePoint sites.” With regard to list columns, the library entry notes that “[w]hen you add a column to a list, SharePoint Foundation copies the site column locally onto the list as a list column. You can then make changes to the list column; these changes apply only to the column as it behaves on that list”

We think that site columns and list columns are features of SharePoint 2010 that most business users will want to implement, especially where a business needs to collect data for analysis and, especially Business Intelligence (BI) about documents, lists (calendars, contacts, etc) that are stored in SharePoint 2010 sites. Naturally, the recommended method for implementing these features is to assign SharePoint Administrators, Developers & Architects with the the task. After all, these higher level users should have the understanding to accomplish the task with SharePoint Designer 2010, whereas average users may not understand how to correctly implement the power of this tool.

Elsewhere in this blog we have recently discussed metadata, tagging, the Term Store and Taxonomy for SharePoint Server 2010. We simply note here that any tool (and especially a free-of-charge tool like SharePoint Designer 2010) that can simplify the process of adding this type of important data for SharePoint deserves study and, potentially, implementation. Therefore, we encourage administrators/developers/architects who are subscribing to our video tutorial content to make sure to review our tutorial video for SharePoint Designer 2010 on this subject, “Creating a List and Modifying its Schema,” which is included in our curriculum for SharePoint Designer 2010.

For business users who may review this post, we need to explain that the term “schema” as used in the title for our video tutorial, “Creating a List and Modifying its Schema”, means the information architecture of a list. In this video Asif Rehmani presents the information architecture for our sample “Contacts” list through his discussion of columns. This video includes a demonstration of how the process of creating site and list columns is quite straightforward with SharePoint Designer 2010. In comparison, using a browser to accomplish the same information architecture process requires our intended audience of SharePoint power users to waste time navigating through several screens of choices before they can successfully add the same information that can added in a maximum of 1-3 steps, by simply clicking on the name of a specific list to access a summary page for the list (which includes the column editing feature under “Customization”) from which they can easily added the column data.

If you understand the value of SharePoint Designer 2010 for your group of users and would like to learn more about the best training practices for groups that we recommend for this tool, we welcome an opportunity to speak with you. Please contact us at (630) 786-7026, or Contact Us to further a discussion about our video training content.

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