I recently did a presentation at TechFuse 2009 for New Horizons of MN this week and I talked about how somebody can utilize SharePoint 2007, InfoPath 2007 and SharePoint Designer 2007 to expose Metadata. I was really amazed by the interest level generated by this subject and decided that I would put out the information.
I had received comments on the sessions as to this was a different way of looking at Metadata within a SharePoint site. Getting metadata into SharePoint to be able to use for Search, Information Rights Management, Workflows can be done using SharePoint and Office 2007 products. Making it easy for a SharePoint user to add the information without having many extra steps is very important.
Let’s not change the process, but work within the process that already exists.
That is how I look at metadata and the architecture around this concept.
To look at this, we need to look at some SharePoint concepts:
Site Content Types
This SharePoint object allows the creation of a specific wrapper when I can include other SharePoint objects. Document types can be added into the Site Content Types. This document type is a template to be used within libraries. There is a particular style and layout for the document that is added into SharePoint as a template associated with a content type. Site columns and workflows can also be associated with the site content type. Use this to have consistency with documents, metadata and workflows across the enterprise.
Columns created at the site level allow consistency across the entire site. Columns can then be added across the site to have the consistency of metadata for each. As an best practice, always add the keyword site column to your document libraries. This one is already created with the installation of the site.
Document Information Panel (DIP)
This works specifically with Office 2007 products. This where the document properties can be defined in Word, Excel or PowerPoint. When coupled with SharePoint, server side properties or metadata becomes exposed in SharePoint. This DIP can be modified using InfoPath 2007 and metadata information can be automated.
Workflows allow SharePoint to work within the processes that the organization has in place. This includes document management, approvals, and disposition. Advanced workflows through SharePoint Designer and Visual Studio 2008 allow more complicated workflows and document management to happen by utilizing specific pieces of metadata found within the list or library.
These allow developers and administrators to tap into information that is running in the background. These services are used to run SharePoint. In the currently version there are 16 different services that help with meetings, sites, users and groups and even web part pages. For metadata, a developer can tap into that information to help automate the process.
Individually these SharePoint ideas can be helpful in customizing, standardizing and automating a SharePoint environment. However, used in tandem they can be extremely helpful in using metadata to find information on SharePoint.
In the next part, we are going to start looking at Site Content Types and how Site Columns and Workflows can be added to help make a customized template for the site.