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In two recent articles we walked you through the evolution of document management in SharePoint 2010 (news, site), and a new feature called Document Sets. In a final follow-up article we will look at how those Document Sets can be customized so as to make them more flexible and more adaptable.

Document sets are components similar to folders that enable users to collaborate on related documents without having to create a new document library or site. Their purpose is to organize unmanaged documents and enable collaboration on documents that have been invested with similar metadata.

Editor's Note: To understand the basics of Document Sets in SharePoint 2010, read David's article: SharePoint 2010 Document Sets: Organize Related Documents for Project Based Work

Customizing Document Set Settings

While Document Sets come as standard components, Harmetz and Christensen point out that one of the real values is that users can customize them in many ways including:

  1. Customize Document Set Settings
  2. Customize Document Set Welcome Page
  3. Apply Workflow Actions

In this example, we will look at how creating a sales pitchbook will be made easier by deploying customized Document Sets in SharePoint 2010.

A pitchbook is a collaborative document created within the sales department of any company that is compiled to present the company, products, pricing and advantages to a client.

At the moment, this kind of collaboration is largely folder-based with new folders being created for every type of new content required. Customized Document Sets will not only speed up this process, but ensure that all required metadata and workflows are applied to all necessary documents.

1.Customizing Document Set Settings

Taking the pitchbook as an example, to get the full benefit of Document Sets the settings should be customized. While there are many possible customized settings, five of the most useful in this example include:

  • Create Content Type: The first stage here is to create templates. This is done by creating columns first then creating content types that inherit from the pitchbook Document Set.
  • Specify Allowed Content Types: In the Document Set settings link you specify the kind of content that you want to be allowed into the Document Set. Every pitchbook created after this will have these documents.
  • Welcome Page Columns: Columns can be added to the Welcome Page by aneasy select and tick function.
  • Document Library: The document must be added to the document library. New pitchbooks can now be created from the ‘New Document’ menu in the library.
  • Pitchbook View: The view that is required on the Welcome Page is selected in the document library and then added to the Document Set settings.

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SharePoint 2010 Document Set Customization

The result of these five steps is that when you create a new document -- in this case a pitchbook -- it will automatically be created with presentations, contracts and spreadsheets ready and all the with shared metadata.

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SharePoint 2010. Customizing allowable content in Document Sets

Editor's Note: Get the details on how Document Management has changed in SharePoint 2010.

Customizing the Document Set Welcome Page

Using the example of the pitchbook again, the first thing to say about the Document Set Welcome page is that in default it will display an image, the properties of the Document Set and all the content of the Document Set.

However, if you wish to customize it there are three options:

  • Web based SharePoint page editor
  • SharePoint Designer
  • Implement a completely custom page

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SharePoint 2010. Editing Document Sets Welcome Page with web editor

In this case, to edit the Welcome Page of the pitchbook the web browser page editor will be used. For simple editing in three steps:

  1. Go to the site content type gallery, click on document set settings, and then click on the link to customize the welcome page. The result will be a blank Welcome Page that appears with no content on it. However, there will also be a very simple page ribbon which offers the option to edit the page by clicking on an edit button.
  2.  Web parts can be added to four differ web part zones. In this case the image was changed to an image that is related to pitchbooks. A noteboard to leave comments was also added. This was done by clicking on Add a Web Part in Zone 4 and selecting Noteboard from the Social Collaboration web part category.
  3. When the editing process is complete, click stop editing in the ribbon, return to the Document Set settings page, check the Welcome Page Changes box and save the settings. This will apply the changes to all pitchbooks in the Document Set.

While Welcome Page editing using the SharePoint page editor is very straightforward and easy to use, it is possible to carry out more advanced editing using SharePoint Designer.

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SharePoint 2010. Document Sets Welcome Page advanced customization

Document Set Workflow Actions

Document Sets also enable users to manage workflows in much the same way they would manage the workflow on folders. However, some are unique to Document Set and are established through SharePoint Designer. These include:

  • Capture
  • Send to Repository
  • Approval Status
  • Start Approval

Document Sets can use workflows from a default list or reusable workflows. In this case, taking the pitchbook again, after the sales transaction action has been completed, the workflow will be used to capture a version of the pitchbook and then send it to an archive after 90 days

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SharePoint 2010. Document Sets Workflow customization

As this process is for the pitchbook content type, a reusable workflow will be used as it can be applied to other similar Document Sets. Easy steps include:

  • Entering through SharePointDesigner: Open the Set that has the pitchbook content type and then go to reusable workflows and click on that.
  • Ribbon button: Click the button for Capture and enter whatever information is required to complete the task. This also gives you the option to hold the Document Set for 90 days before it is sent to a repository.
  • Send to Repository: If this action is added there are a number of parameters that need to be defined. These include copy, or move, or move and leave a link. The destination site is identified. When the Document Set is sent, only the current version and the documents inside will be sent.
  • Save Workflow:  Workflow is saved to the pitchbook content type and the workflow is saved.

There are dozens of other actions that can be applied to the Document Sets and Workflows amongst them:

  • Setting a field on the Document Set to certain value
  • Assigning contents for approval
  • Assigning tasks for users to work on a document set

Only the Beginning of Document Set Customization

These are only three of the customization options that are available in SharePoint 2010 Document Sets -- there are many more. Other possibilities include creating links between related Document Sets, creating customized buttons for Document Set ribbons or applying metadata manually based on content type.

With the release date for SharePoint 2010 now finally set for May 12 there will undoubtedly be a lot more said on document management in SharePoint 2010.  A big thanks to Adam Harmetz, Lead Program Manager for SharePoint Document and Records Management, and Quentin Christensen, Program Manager for SharePoint 2010 Document and Records Management, for the resources for this and the other two SharePoint 2010 document management.

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