Records Center Overview
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Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 provides an intuitive, robust environment for document collaboration and storage. However, many corporations have records management and regulatory compliance needs that necessitate maintaining separate servers that are used to manage official business records and other highly regulated material. This presents a challenge to records managers: How do you easily, and consistently, move documents from the collaborative SharePoint sites to the more strictly controlled environment of a records repository server?
Windows SharePoint Services provides administrators with the ability to specify a custom Web service to which Windows SharePoint Services can send documents and their related metadata. The Web service must adhere to a specific Web service description for Windows SharePoint Services to be able to send documents to it. The Web service can then store those documents in a records center, whether that repository is another SharePoint site or a third-party storage application.
Creating and specifying a records center Web service lets you pass both the document and any metadata about the document you want to retain, including an audit history of the events performed on the document. This capability gives records managers a simple yet powerful way to integrate the advantages of the Windows SharePoint Services collaborative work environment with their existing records storage system. Also, because the Records Center Web service description is heavily abstracted, moving from one document storage application to another requires much less effort than an approach that requires more knowledge of the inner structure and workings of the records center.
Administrators can specify one custom Records Center Web service for a Web application. To do so, you must specify the name and URL of the Web service to use. You can do this using the Central Administration user interface, or by setting the following two properties on the SPWebApplication object in the Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration namespace:
For a Web service to act as a Records Center Web service for Windows SharePoint Services, it must implement the methods defined in the Records Center Web service description. This service description defines the following methods:
Currently, Windows SharePoint Services invokes only the SubmitFile method.
For more information on these methods, see Records Center Web Service Methods.
For the complete Web service description, see Records Center Web Service Description.
After you create and specify your custom Records Center Web service, users can send documents to the records center from within Windows SharePoint Services either manually or by using Automation:
In the Windows SharePoint Services user interface, users can right-click a document and choose Send to Records center.
You can automate sending a document to the records center through the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 object model by using the M:Microsoft.SharePoint.SPFile.SendToOfficialFile(System.String@) or SendToOfficialFile methods.
Using Automation enables records managers to consistently and transparently capture vital documents and move them into the correct records center locations without having to rely on user interaction for compliance. This is especially true when you combine Automation with the other powerful document management features provided in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.
For example, you could create a content type called Contract. To this content type you add a workflow. The final activity in the workflow calls the SendToOfficialFile method. Now, any document that is assigned this content type will be moved to the records center when the workflow runs. The workflow in turn can be configured to run automatically—for example, in response to some document event.
For more information about workflows, see Introduction to Workflows in Windows SharePoint Services.
Sending Files to a Records Center
When you send a file to the records center, either manually or through the object model, Windows SharePoint Services invokes the SendToOfficialFile method of the Records Center Web service you specified, passing the required arguments for that method.
Windows SharePoint Services sends a copy of the specified file. The original file is not altered in any way, and contains no link to its copy in the records center. However, the copy is submitted to the Records Center Web service with a pointer to the location of the original file.
When submitting a file, Windows SharePoint Services packages the content type metadata for that file, along with the file's audit history, as XML. Windows SharePoint Services passes the file's content type name as its record routing type.