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Micorosoft Sharepoint 2013 : SharePoint Metadata Types (part 1) - Site Columns

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12/23/2014 8:40:21 PM

Microsoft embraced metadata in SharePoint 2007; SharePoint 2003 incorporated “categories” for list data, but this was very different from deserving the title of metadata. SharePoint 2007 introduced the concept of the content type, which is a grouping of related attributes that describe a piece of content.

SharePoint 2007 managed content types at the site collection level and enabled site collection administrators to create new content types in the Content Type Gallery, for use in the site collection hierarchy. Site owners of subsites in the hierarchy could elect to use content types defined at parent sites or the top-level site collection, or they could define new ones for their site and subsites. Content types also make inheritance possible, so site owners could inherit from a site collection content type and add additional attributes for the specific site instance.

The Managed Metadata Service—introduced with SharePoint 2010—provides a central hub in a SharePoint farm for management of metadata across site collections and web applications in the farm. Centralizing metadata in this fashion releases content owners from the shackles of the site collection, and it allows for content types shared across multiple site collections—very useful if the enterprise site consists of multiple site collections, as it should according to best practices for content distribution.

Before I dig into the specific details of the Managed Metadata Service, I will review the principal metadata components in SharePoint: site columns and content types.

Site Columns

SharePoint maintains a list of site columns, which represent attributes for metadata. If you have created a custom list, or looked at an existing list defined in SharePoint, then you will have seen the site columns in action as the “columns or fields” of the list.

For example, a list of contacts in a site maintains names and addresses of project members. The list retains the first name, last name, street address, city, state, ZIP code, and DOB of the contact. Each of these attributes exists as site columns in SharePoint, and when applied to a list definition they constitute the columns or fields of the list.

Site columns have attributes of their own: title, description, and type. Table 1 lists the various types of site columns in SharePoint.

Table 1. Column Types in SharePoint

Site Column Type Description
Single line of text String of text up to a maximum of 255 characters.
Multiple lines of text Multiple lines of text; content owners specify how many lines to show in edit forms.
Choice Single choice of fixed values; choices are defined with the site column and displayed as radio buttons or drop-down list.
Number Floating-point number.
Currency Two-decimal place number with currency symbol.
Date and Time Date, Time, or both.
Lookup Single or multiple-choice lookup of value from another list in the collection (at or below the location of the site column in the hierarchy).
Yes/No Boolean value, shown as a check box in edit forms.
Person or Group Selection of people or groups from user credential store (Active Directory or other user store, such as LDAP).
Hyperlink or Picture Either a link to another location or link to an image to display; the content owner chooses at site column creation.
Calculated Site column value calculated from formula (Excel-like) from other columns in the list row.
Full HTML (Publishing) HTML field available with the Publishing feature. Allows rich text or full HTML markup.
Image (Publishing) Image-only field available with the Publishing feature.
Hyperlink (Publishing) Hyperlink-only field available with the Publishing feature.
Summary Links (Publishing) Allows collection of hyperlinks by the end user. When this column is added to a page layout and publishing page content type, page editors may add links to show as a collection on the page.
Rich Media (Publishing) Inclusion of movie, audio, and image media on Publishing pages.
External Data Single or multiple-choice lookup of value from an external list or content type.
Managed Metadata These columns surface terms from a term set in the Managed Metadata Service Term Store .

The following steps show how to access the Site Column Gallery in a site collection, and how to add a new column for use in the site collection:

  1. Click the gear icon.
  2. Click the Site Settings menu item.
  3. From the Site Settings page, in the Galleries section, click the Site Columns link.
  4. SharePoint displays the Site Column Gallery, like that in Figure 1.

9781430249412_Fig09-01.jpg

Figure 1. Site Column Gallery

The page in Figure 1 shows a list of the site column names, the type, and the location. If you access the Site Column Gallery from a subsite, the location values show where the site column resides in the hierarchy.

  1. Click the Birthday column.
  2. SharePoint displays the edit screen as in Figure 2.

9781430249412_Fig09-02.jpg

Figure 2. Edit site column properties

Here you may change the column name, contained group, description, and whether existing list columns based on this column will update with changes. To change the column type you have no choice but to create a new column, as follows:

  1. Navigate back to the Site Column Gallery, showing the list of site columns.
  2. Click the Create link.
  3. SharePoint shows a new edit form to populate with site column properties.
  4. Change the type to Person or Group.
  5. Wait for the page to post back and then scroll to the bottom.
  6. See the options to allow selection of people only, people and groups or a SharePoint Security Group to limit choice of person.
  7. Complete all mandatory properties on this page and then click OK to create the new site column.

Note  The page posts back automatically when you select different site column types, because different types warrant additional properties.

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