It’s always useful to get some kind of insight into the thinking behind the development of features in new software, particularly when it comes to SharePoint 2010 (site).
In a recent entry on the Microsoft Enterprise Content Management Team Blog, Adam Harmetz, Lead Program Manager for SharePoint Document and Records Management, explains how new features in SharePoint 2010 build on SharePoint 2007 and what we might expect in the future.
The first thing he says is that many of the key document management infrastructures were introduced in SharePoint 2007, which was the first time that SharePoint enabled users apply structure and management to their document libraries as opposed to using it principally as a collaborative tool.
Those features and their integration with Microsoft Office client applications enabled users to create high-value knowledge repositories that were easy to interact with and were generally positively received by users.
SharePoint 2010 document management is built off the success of that and around a number of principal ideas including:
- Managing unstructured silos
- Use of metadata
- Browser as document management application
Managing unstructured silos
Looking at the way users were using document management features in 2007, Harmetz says they noticed that SharePoint was being used to pull unstructured silos into realm of enterprise content management.
Users were using traditional document management features on collaborative sites and using them to apply policy and structure as well as gathering insights from unmanaged places.
This lead to the development of many new SharePoint 2010 document management features. In this respect Harmetz cites the idea of a document set, which allows users to group related documents, share metadata, workflows, homepage and archiving processes.
The feature was designed with dual purposes:
- To manage very rigid processes (regulatory submissions, for example)
- Informal process management where teams need to combine a number of file types in same process.
Extending the document set feature to enable its use informally extends the SharePoint ECM value for users, Harmetz says.
Use of metadata
In establishing how metadata would be used across SharePoint 2010, they combined the use of both structured taxonomies and keywords, and applied both to SharePoint 2010 repositories.
Instead of navigating by traditional folders, a user filtered the library to the virtual folder that contains just sales materials about Contoso’s tent products.
With SharePoint 2010, users get consistent metadata management with the result that any SharePoint site can hook into that metadata with virtually no effort.
There are two key principals in the use of metadata:
- Use and application of tags: It’s easy for a site to use enterprise wide tags and taxonomies, and easy for users to apply them.
- How SharePoint 2010 uses tags: The document library can be configured to use metadata as a primary navigation pivot.
Combined, it means that easy metadata entry enables users to tag items which in turn drives navigation. And because users need the metadata to navigate the repository, this encourages them to tag the items.
Browser as a document management application
SharePoint 2010 pulls together two features that SharePoint is best known for:
- Website and page creation
- Collaboration on, and management of documents
In the interests of efficient knowledge management, SharePoint 2010 applies the principal that the browser is the key to best managing documents — not just for document downloads but also for interaction with the document.
In this respect, users will now be able to interact with the document as well as having access to document context including metadata, wikis pages related to the document and related documents.
SharePoint 2010 enables this in a number of ways including:
- Office Web Apps: The default click for the document library can be set for automatic document upload into the browser.
- Content Query web part: Used to roll up all the documents related to a particular topic.
The result is a combination of wiki and traditional enterprise document management repositories.
There are a lot more document management features to SharePoint 2010, but Harmetz gives some context to it and suggests that future developments will be based along the same lines. He will be addressing other features and other document management issues over the coming months.
However, if there are particular issues in relation to SharePoint 2010 and document management that you would like him to discuss, leave a message on the blog, especially if you’re one of those that have downloaded the Beta version and are having problems on the test drive.