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Sharepoint Document Library - RANT! - Part 1

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by , 18th February 2011 at 12:35 PM (5421 Views)
Firstly - a little disclaimer. I am not the original author of this post, but I agree with the sentiment of it. Its all to easy to think that the Document Libraries are File Shares and treat them as such - particularly if you let your users use the Explorer View (grrrr!) Anyway - the honour of the original poster is the Sharepoint Legend that is Bil Simser. Google is your friend....

I thought I would capture a few ideas around document libraries and share with the rest of the class. These are not “best practices” as I don’t want to sound too preachy so let’s call them “pretty good practices that you might want to consider if you have some time” (which is far too long for a blog title, hence the one I came up with is going to have to do).

SharePoint Fight Club

The first rule of SharePoint. I want you to repeat after me.

“SharePoint Document Libraries are not file shares.”


Remember this, above all other things we’re going to talk about here, and you’ll be golden. If your users are asking you to put a file share into SharePoint then you need to beat them upside the head when they talk about “replicating the folder structure” or “like for like” or “make it just like *that* (and points to file share)”.

If you really must make some kind of analogy and your audience knows something about databases (even Access), rather than saying document libraries are like file shares say “document libraries are like databases”. While SharePoint sits on top of a database it’s kind of irrelevant what the backing store is (side note, Dear Microsoft, please make a pluggable store for SharePoint in the next version) a list or document library is pretty much like a database. A document library may “look” like a file share just because it lists documents (which originated as files) and contains folders (assuming you left this feature on, more on that later) but it’s more like a database than a file share. Each document is just a blob associated with metadata (title, size, date, author, etc.).

Working Online

Something that is going to be a big hurdle for your users (and yourself if you haven’t got into the mindset) is that you do not need to create new documents on your hard drive. Ever. I see this behavior all of the time:

1.Start Word/Excel/PowerPoint
2.Create content
3.Save file to “My Documents” or some such silly place
4.Start browser
5.Navigate to SharePoint site and document library
6.Click on Upload
7.Navigate to find document on local drive
Really. Drives. Me. Nuts.

With the Office integration with SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010, you’re able to fully integrate your editing experience with SharePoint. If you know your document is going to go into SharePoint then either a) save it to SharePoint when you’re done or b) launch a New document from the document library (which in turn will open the client app and save back to the SharePoint library by default).

Start using the tools as Microsoft intended you to and you’ll be in a better place.

Do_x0020_not_x0020_use_x0020_spaces_x0020_in_x0020 _names

When you first create a new document library please don’t name it “Project Documents” or “Expense Reports – March 2010” or “Famous kittens I would like to juggle”. Instead name it “ProjectDocuments” *then* go back and change the name in the library settings. The reason why is when you create a new document library and call it “Project Documents” it takes on an internal name of “Project_x0020_Documents” and accessing that library in the browser will result in a url of “Project%20Documents”. That’s fugly not to mention a PITA to deal with.

Make everyone happy by crunching the name then going back to rename it to something more human friendly. Frankly I wish SharePoint did this automatically (like it does for publishing pages) but until that happens, we should make a mental note to do it ourselves and be good SharePoint citizens.

Hint: This is my golden rule for lists, columns, and views too!

Don’t Get So Attached

The worst sin (well, one of many) is some guy sending me an email with a document attached to it, usually about a minute after I get the alert the document was added to the library. Better yet, the document copied to a dozen people on my team. I can see the need for this if you have external users who don’t have access to your SharePoint site so that’s perfectly acceptable but you should really compose an email to them with the attachment and send the link to your internal team (I know, two emails are better than one? Your internal team doesn’t need the attachment).

It’s really simple to get a link to the document. Right click, copy shortcut, paste. Another tip when pasting the url into an email is to write a word to describe the document (or even “Document is here” is fine too) and highlight the word or phrase and hit Ctrl+K to create a shortcut. SharePoint links can get somewhat long and ugly so pasting that directly into an email can break up the readability. It’s an extra keystroke but worth the effort IMHO.



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