SharePoint 2007: Getting to Know SharePoint: Page 2

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The relatively low cost of SharePoint Portal 2003 (generally one half to one quarter the cost of competing products) made it attractive to organizations that might use only a faction of the features. And Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 was a free download that offered the core document libraries and list functionality. Sample users might have included an IT manager that wanted an intranet replacement site to which a team calendar and some metrics about help desk response times could be posted, or a group of project managers that wanted document libraries to act as the central repositories for project-related documentation and where versions could be tracked.

However, as SharePoint newbies rapidly became power users, requests came up for features that SharePoint 2003 didn’t provide out-of-the-box. Fortunately, third-party companies quickly evolved to offer new, cutting-edge features, such as an undelete capability, workflow tools, enhanced navigation tools, roll-up web parts, and many more. A subset of users generally turned to FrontPage 2003 to modify their SharePoint work environments to better suit their needs; for example, by removing the Quick Launch area, modifying the navigation bars, adding zones, and making other structural changes. Unfortunately, in the process of making those changes, the site collection became “unghosted,” rendering it an island separated from the server-hosted site definitions.

microsoft sharepoint 2007

"SharePoint 2007 Unleashed" learn more

As more third-party applications became part of the SharePoint 2003 environment, support, maintenance, troubleshooting, and end user training became arithmetically more complex. Many organizations reached a certain level of complexity and decided to halt the addition of more functionality, despite the demands of the user base, after word of the 2007 versions of SharePoint started to circulate.

Enter the SharePoint 2007 product line, which builds on the many strengths of the previous version, introduces features that end users have requested, and provides new features that many users might never have dreamed of. The following sections introduce SharePoint features using a bottom-up methodology that starts with the smallest units of organization—document libraries and lists—and works up to sites, workspaces, and site collections. This approach will help you understand how different groups of users benefit from SharePoint’s new and improved features.

Organizing and Streamlining Document Management

One of the most used features of SharePoint is the document library. Knowledge workers, team members, and end users will find themselves “living” in document libraries when adding to or accessing files stored in these units. It is important for SharePoint administrators and architects to put sufficient time and effort into designing the document libraries to meet the needs of the different types of users.

A powerful new feature of SharePoint 2007 document libraries is security-trimming of the user interface: menus that shouldn’t be seen by a user with a lower level of access and privileges don’t appear. In Figure 1.1, the New, Actions, and Settings menus wouldn’t appear if the individual accessing the library had only Reader privileges. The Edit menu shown in Figure 1.1 is security-trimmed to the privileges of the user. In this case, User1 has Owner-level rights in the library, so that user can perform these actions: View Properties, Edit Properties, Manage Permissions, Edit in Microsoft Office Excel, Delete, Send To, Check Out, Unpublish this version, Version History, Workflows, and Alert Me.

For a user with appropriate privileges in the library, the Actions menu provides access to a number of powerful and enhanced tools: Edit in Datasheet, Open with Windows Explorer, Connect to Outlook, Export to Spreadsheet, View RSS Feed, and Alert Me. (RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.) Note that these options vary based on the installed version of Office. Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 offers fewer options because the free version has a reduced feature set.

SharePoint 2003 users will notice that some of the tools that used to be available in the Quick Launch area have moved to the Edit menu. Chapter 7, “Using Libraries and Lists in SharePoint 2007,” provides a detailed overview of different tools as well as the actions available in the New, Upload, Actions, and Settings menus.

Site administrators have access to many additional tools that enable the creation of different views of the information stored in the library. The links in the General Settings column enable an administrator to determine which basic features the library makes available. The administrator controls versioning (with the new abilities to create only major or both major and minor versions, and to limit the retained number of each type), requiring that documents be checked out before they can be edited, whether content types can be used, whether new folders are allowed, and whether items in the library appear in search results.

The Permissions and Management column enables the administrator to define privileges for different groups and users to the library, create workflows, and manage information management policies (such as policy statements, auditing, expiration, and barcodes). The Communications column makes it possible for an administrator to allow the document library to receive emails, to define the email address and how to manage and store emails, and to decide whether the list can receive RSS feeds.

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