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Document Sets in SharePoint Server 2010 (ECM)

SharePoint 2010

A SharePoint Server 2010 document set is a content type that can be used as-is, or customized by modifying its settings in the site content gallery or when the document set is added to the document library. Learn how document sets can assist you in managing your work products.

Last modified: June 24, 2013

Applies to: SharePoint Server 2010

In this article
Using Document Sets to Manage Work Products
Document Sets Feature Overview
Content Types and Options for Creating Document Sets
Settings Page for Document Set Content Type
Welcome Page for Document Set Content Type

In Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 content management, there is no built-in way to manage content that is larger than a single document. Office SharePoint Server 2007 provides the basics of content containership, such as folders and document libraries; however, they are designed to organize and structure a repository more than manage a single deliverable that includes or spans multiple documents—a work product.

Document sets are a new investment area in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 that are designed to manage all aspects of work products. They provide a user interface (UI), metadata options, behaviors, and object model elements that fill a gap in the hierarchy of containers between documents and sites. When you upload a DocumentSet object, it is displayed in a Web Part that works like a document library.

As an example of a work product, consider the steps required to develop a custom Web Part to use in SharePoint Server 2010: gather business requirements, write a specification, create development plans and test plans, and create UI design prototypes. Although the custom Web Part is the tangible "master" deliverable item, all of the requirements—specification, developer plans and test plans, and UI design prototypes—are key parts of the deliverable. The tangible deliverable could not exist in its final form without the planning documents that are produced as part of the Web Part development process. You can use the document sets feature to manage the planning documents in association with the "master" deliverable item, all of which are integral parts of the work product.

Many organizations develop custom applications centered around content, and the document sets feature is designed to enable organizations to replace their custom applications—and to require minimal customization work in some cases. Requirements include a way to create custom document set content types, templates, workflows, records management, versioning, and integration with the ribbon.

Document sets are extensible. SharePoint Server 2010 includes UI for creating custom document set content types, a customizable user experience for viewing and creating document sets, and a facility for creating workflow on document sets.

Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 delivers built-in support for document sets. By default, this includes all the tools required to manage a work product successfully. A document set is a content type that can be used as-is, and it can be customized by modifying its settings in the site content gallery or when the document set is added to the document library. It can be used as the basis for a custom document set template.

Table 1. Feature highlights of document sets

Feature Highlight

Description

New page (newdocset.aspx).

Page for the default document set content type. Use the default New page or create and provision a New page to use with a document set.

Welcome page

Welcomes and orients users of a document set by displaying the contents of the set and its properties. It is a Web Parts page that can be used as-is or customized.

Versioning

Includes versioning capabilities that are independent of, but interoperable with, versioning capabilities that are available to the documents contained in the set. Document sets capture a snapshot that points to the current version of documents by using regular versioning and saving the current values for the properties of the document set.

Document set versioning is additive, which means it does not replace versioning for individual items, but instead provides an additional layer of support designed specifically for viewing and managing the document set life cycle.

Just as an item in a SharePoint Server 2010 list has a Version History page that enables users to see the version history and act on a previous version of an item, a document set has a Version History page that enables users to see the version history and act on a previous version of a document set. A document set version is simply a set of metadata associated with the document set, including a Check in comments text field, a summary view of document set properties, and a summary view of changes to properties of document sets. It also tracks what version of the selected document was "current" at the time when the document set version was captured.

Workflow

Workflow activities used to create workflows with document sets.

In SharePoint Designer 2010, users have the ability to associate and run workflows based on SharePoint Server 2010 folders. Because document sets are an extension of the SPFolder object, users can associate and run workflows for them. When working with document sets while viewing shared folders in SharePoint Server 2010, you can interact with the Workflow buttons on the document set Welcome page ribbon or select Workflows from the drop-down list next to each document set list item. You can then run a workflow that is associated with the document set and view workflow details, such as which workflows are running currently and which workflows are completed for the document set. Running workflows on document sets that contain documents does not preclude or interfere with running workflows on other items that the document sets include. SharePoint Server 2010 delivers built-in workflow activities to help you create workflows in SharePoint Designer 2010 that operate on document sets, and items within sets that meet the needs of several scenarios. For example, you can use built-in workflows to manage activities for document sets such as authoring, reviewing, and approving content. Additionally, these workflows surface the appropriate workflow status and experience for workflow owners who interact with the entire document set and participants who work only with individual items in the set.

Folders

Document sets are a special kind of SharePoint Server 2010 folder; they inherit and use the capabilities and properties of SPFolder. It inherits all of the properties and behaviors of standard folders, and adds logic to support work product management, basic folder functionality, and behaviors. To learn more about folders, see the SPFolder topic. The way that users interact with document sets is similar to the way that they interact with regular SharePoint folders. Users with access to the document set are able to interact with the set's contents, including any documents based on content types that are provisioned for use with the document set, the default or customized New pages or Welcome pages, and associated metadata.

When creating a new document set, use an instance of the Document Set content type. The Document Set content type defines:

  • Behaviors and features available to instances of the DocumentSet object.

  • Details specific to the content type that is associated with the document set, such as what New pages and Welcome pages to use, and what other content types can be used with the content type.

To create a custom Document Set content type, create a child of the default Document Set content type.

Table 2. Document Set content type elements

Element

Description

Document set metadata schema

The set of required and optional columns for the root DocumentSet object as they are specified for any SPFolder object. You can customize this element by using the object model or by using the content type Settings page.

Workflow associations

The workflow associations for the root DocumentSet object. Use Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010 to set these associations and to add the capability to run workflows on document sets.

You can customize this element by using the object model or by using the content type Settings page.

List of metadata to synchronize with all items in the document set

References to the columns that are part of the document set metadata schema that should be copied to each item in the set. Customize this element by using the object model or by using the Document Set content type Settings page.

List of allowed content types for items in the document set

References to content types that are available for use on items in instances of this Document Set content type.

You can customize this element by using the object model or the Document Set content type Settings page.

Default contents that are created in the document set at document set creation time

A set of files that are copied or added automatically to every instance of the document set when it is created.

For each file, SharePoint Server 2010 also stores the appropriate content type to use. This content type becomes available through the UI as one of the "allowed" content types for this DocumentSet object.

You can customize this element by using the object model or the Document Set content type Settings page.

Custom New page URL

The URL that points to a custom page that is displayed when a user clicks the New button for the specified type of document set.

You can customize this element only by using the object model.

Do not add the Folder content type or any of its children as an allowed content type for document sets. We do not recommend creating subfolders within a document set by using the UI.

SharePoint Server 2010 provides the following in support for document sets and a dedicated Document Set content type Settings page:

  • Standard SharePoint Server 2010 Settings pages store metadata that Document Set content types share with other types of objects in SharePoint Server 2010. These Settings pages provide support for changing workflow settings, adding fields, and other required and optional tasks needed for the Document Set content type. You can also use the Settings page to:

    • Specify what columns are shared among columns inside the document set.

    • Select allowed content types.

    • Specify what properties appear on the Welcome page.

    • Specify custom views at the list level.

  • Settings pages include controls used to customize new elements, such as specifying which content types are allowed for use with the new document set and default contents.

Certain more advanced elements of the Document Set content type are configurable only by using the object model. These elements include those that require deployment of custom code or files to SharePoint Server 2010, such as specifying custom New pages or Welcome pages. Programmatically, there are two parts to a Document Set content type:

  • The content type object. Use the SPContentType class and its methods and properties to manipulate the content type object.

  • The DocumentSetTemplate class. Use the methods and properties in this class to manipulate qualities specific to the behaviors and features of document sets.

Qualities specific to document sets that you can use the DocumentSetTemplate to manipulate include:

SharePoint Server 2010 delivers a default Document Set content type. You can use this content type to create child Document Set content types that can be customized and used in specific scenarios. Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 introduced content types. Working with document sets requires basic familiarity with the Content Types feature, object model, and basic programming concepts.

The Welcome page is a type of Web Parts page that, by default, is used to present metadata, descriptions, and lists of documents belonging to the document set. You can also customize the Welcome page to display other information.

Each Document Set content type can have its own Welcome page. This page can be customized in the same ways that all other aspects of a content type are customized. For example:

  • A list owner can change the Welcome page for all document sets that are using the Document Set content type that the list is using.

  • Changes made to the Welcome page of the document set get pushed down to the children of that content type and to the locations where that content type is used. This ensures that the list, the document set instances, and the locations where the Document Set content type is used have the most current Welcome page in their copies of the content type.

Document Set content types support federation. When a Document Set content type is federated, the Welcome page belonging to the document set is also federated.

With respect to branding and theming, Welcome pages behave exactly like all other SharePoint Server 2010 pages.

You can customize the Welcome page by using:

  • Document settings UI to customize basic aspects of the Welcome page.

  • Document set settings UI to add Web Parts in the Web Part zones defined on the page.

  • Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010 to customize the Web Parts page in more advanced ways by adding Web Parts and controls to your Welcome page.

  • The SharePoint Server 2010 object model, when you want to own the entire Welcome page and not use Web Parts. The object model provides functions to instruct SharePoint Server 2010 to use your Welcome page instead of the Welcome page based on built-in Web Parts.

Welcome pages are Web Parts pages, and SharePoint Server 2010 includes two new Web Parts that you can customize, as follows:

  • Document Set Properties Web Part: Similar to the Display Form Web Part, but it takes a parameter as part of the URL to the page it is on, to determine what item's properties to render.

  • Document Set Contents Web Part: Similar to the List View Web Part, but it takes a parameter as part of the URL to the page it is on to determine what folder to render.

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