Content Organizer Feature Overview for SharePoint Server 2010 Developers (ECM)

SharePoint 2010

Last modified: April 02, 2010

Applies to: SharePoint Server 2010

In this article
Content Organizer Document Flow
Creating and Managing Rules with the Content Organizer Rules List
Constraining Rules and Conditions
Understanding How Content Is Routed

This topic provides a conceptual overview of the Content Organizer and maps it to the programming model. It introduces how documents flow through the Content Organizer, how users create and manage rules, how to use constraining rules and conditions, and how the Content Organizer routes content.

The Content Organizer makes routing decisions by analyzing the metadata associated with each individual item. You can still base routing decisions on content types, but the new level of detail based on analyzing metadata enables the Content Organizer to make complex document management decisions based on rules defined by the content steward or librarian.

The Content Organizer requires the use of site content types. Documents flow according to these rules:

  1. Documents with the correct content type, metadata, and matching rules are automatically routed to the final library and folder.

  2. Documents that lack the amount of metadata required to match a rule or that are missing required metadata are sent to the Drop-Off Library so that the user can enter metadata.

  3. Users manually add site content types to target libraries.

  4. For all of a site's content types for which rules have been associated, the first time that you add a rule for that content type the content type is automatically added to the Drop-Off Library.

  5. After a document has the appropriate amount of metadata and the specific metadata required to match a rule, it is automatically routed to the target library and folder.

Note Note

You can enter the appropriate metadata and manually submit the document again, or you can rely on a timer job that runs daily by default to route the document to the final location after the metadata has been entered or a rule has been created.

Content stewards use the Content Organizer Rules List to administer the Content Organizer. Administration includes creating new rules, editing rules, managing the status and priority of rules, and specifying the order in which rules are evaluated. The rules list is used to create, manage, view, and reorder rules, and to manage settings.

To create a new rule, create an item on the Content Organizer Rules List and then select the content type associated with the rule. Selecting the content type determines the properties that can be used for routing, and it constrains valid target locations for a rule. When selecting a content type, notice that only types that inherit from the "Document" content type are available. The Routing Rule content type, which is the single content type associated with the Content Organizer Rules List, facilitates creating new rules. Several hidden columns store data about a rule. The data is used to generate the Edit Item page for a rule.

There are two ways to select the status of rules and manage their priority:

  • Disable a rule to prevent it from running. This retires a rule so that it does not run on incoming content, but it leaves a way to prove that the proper procedures were in place at the time of the operation. This is especially useful in records management scenarios that require proof in a court of law that the proper procedures were in place.

  • Specify the order in which the rules are evaluated by setting a priority on each rule. If a document matches more than one rule, the Content Organizer uses the rule with the higher priority.

The Content Organizer provides two ways of constraining which documents match a rule—by content type and by matching conditions based on properties:

  • When constraining a document by content type, a document matches a rule only if it matches the content type for that rule, or a selected set of alternate names for the content type that the rule is associated with. The document will route as the content type of the rule if it is aliased to a rule.

  • When constraining a document by property-based conditions, the document matches a rule only if it meets a set of conditions that are based on specific document properties. This means that rules can be constrained to run only when specific metadata values appear on submitted documents. For example, if you want the rule to run only on all documents that originated in the United States, the condition is "If Source Country equals USA". The UI for property-based conditions is type-independent.

    Although the Operator and Value sections of a metadata condition change depending on the column type, several aspects of the metadata condition UI are the same regardless of column type:

    • The text that introduces where the user selects a value for the column.

    • A condition limit of six. After six conditions are added, the Add new condition link disappears.

    • Users always select a column by using the standard single-selection drop-down list.

    • Available columns are always constrained to all non-hidden columns on the rule's content type.

    • If multilingual user interface (MUI) is enabled, the property names appear in the locale of the current user.

If the Content Organizer does not have all of the metadata that it needs to route a document, SharePoint Server 2010 does not enforce the selection of required columns. Instead, it warns the user when he or she selects a property that is not required. The following message appears: "Warning: Since this is not a required property, incoming document may not have a value for this property."

Use views to analyze and understand how the Content Organizer routes documents when they are submitted to the site. Several columns and two views are provided for the Routing Rule content type to make this possible.

When data is entered on the Edit Properties page for a rule, the data is made available for users to consume by a set of properties (mostly text properties) applied to the content type associated with the rule. These properties can be added to any view or they can be seen on the View Properties page associated with the rule, which enables users to see rule information.

Table 1 describes columns that are available for use in views of the Content Organizer rules list.

Table 1. Available columns for the Content Organizer rules list



Rule Name

Rule Name value entered on the New/Edit Rule page.


Description entered on the New/Edit Rule page.


Constructed from data entered in the Rule Status and Priority section on the New/Edit Rule page. If the rule is active, this column has a value that corresponds to the selected rule priority. If the rule is inactive, this column has the value "Inactive".

Submission's Content Type

Shows the content type for the rule.

Properties Used in Conditions

Shows a comma-delimited list of properties.


Shows a comma-delimited list of alternative names for the content type associated with the rule.

Target Library

Shows the target library for the current rule, which comes from the Target Location section of the New/Edit Rule page.

Target Folder

Shows the name of the target folder for this rule, which comes from the Target Location section of the New/Edit Rule page. If the user selects a library or does not select a folder, this column is blank.

Target Path

Shows the full URL to the target location of a rule. The URL is a hyperlink that loads the target location in a new window.

Property for Automatic Folder Creation

Shows the property that is used to automatically create folders, which comes from the Automatic Folder Creation section on the New/Edit Rule page. If automatic foldering is not enabled, this column is blank.

Custom Router

Shows the name of the custom router for this rule, which comes from the Custom Router section on the New/Edit Rule page.