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(For more resources on Microsoft Sharepoint, see here.)
A SharePoint list is a collection of similar items that are defined by a set of structure columns or fields, resembling a database table. Lists support various field or data types, and can have workflow and alert triggers that react to events such as creating, updating, or deleting items. In addition, lists can be configured to filter, sort, or group items based on item data or properties, which is ideal for visualization of information to both display and edit item data.
An ideal business use for a list is to store information that is normally managed in an Excel file, such as new orders, issue tracking of bugs on a project, or maintenance contracts. The advantages of storing information in a list rather than in Excel are:
- Multiple people can edit different line items of the information
- Read, write, and view permissions can be applied to the line items
- SharePoint business process functionality such as alerts and workflow can be applied to an item when it has been created or edited
- Information can be targeted to users with the use of views
- There is one version of the truth of the information
There is nothing wrong with using Excel for database-storing activity, but a SharePoint list provides a richer user experience in terms of entering, managing, and taking actions from the data.
Lists in SharePoint are based on list templates, such as calendars, contact lists, picture libraries, and others that define the scheme for new lists. You can create multiple lists, based on a single list template.
To create a list, click on Site Actions | More Options…:
You will be presented with a series of out of the box List templates, each of which has a slightly different column names and views, but they all have the common List functionality.
There is the ability to filter the displayed List templates with the navigational menu on the left-hand side.
Once you have chosen your List, type in the List name and URL, and the List will be created.
As best practice, avoid putting spaces in the name as shown in the preceding screenshot. Otherwise, this puts the %20 character in the actual URL of the list. For example, in the preceding screenshot, the generated SharePoint list URL would be /Lists/Project%20Annoucements/AllItems.aspx. SharePoint converts non-alphanumeric characters to URL-friendly characters. This whitespace can cause problems when the URL is being used with workflows or being pasted by a user into an e-mail as the URL may be truncated when the e-mail has been sent.
Once a list or library has been created, the URL cannot be changed. You can always change the name and put in spaces in the name from the List settings.
In the preceding screenshot, you can select More Options... to add a description to the list, or add the list to the Quick Launch navigation of the Site.
Once a List is created, you will be automatically directed to the newly created list.
The SharePoint installation has provided many out of the box List Templates that are predefined, and will generally meet your needs with perhaps some minor enhancements by adding a few extra fields.
For team collaboration, the out of the box list templates such as the Calendar and Discussion List Templates are available in most Site Templates and should be sufficient for your requirements.
The Team Site template will probably meet most of your collaboration requirements as this site template has Shared Documents, Issue Tracking, Discussions and Announcements Lists, and Libraries.
Out of the Box list templates
As you architect a SharePoint deployment, it is important to know which List templates are available on which sites as this can affect deployment timelines.
As your collaboration needs become more sophisticated and you become more familiar with SharePoint's functionality and user requirements, it is worth reviewing the following List Templates as these have specific functionality.
When you are creating a list, its description is displayed on the top right-hand side of the page when the list icon is selected. This is a good way to learn the functionality of the available lists.
In this section, the less intuitive functionality of lists is explained.
This is a new list to SharePoint 2010 and is used to display Line of Business (LOB) data from an SQL database. We view this provided functionality as beyond end user activity as you will need to have knowledge of SharePoint Designer or Visual Studio to configure this kind of List to show data.
This is a blank list with no fields or views. Use this list template if none of the built-in features of a list meet your criteria.
It can be quicker to start a new custom list and add site columns and content types, rather than delete or change column names with an existing list template.
When this list is created, the columns and data from a spreadsheet are copied into it. The data import process from the spreadsheet only occurs when the list is created. Choose this list if you are migrating content from a spreadsheet into a list and all future data activity is intended to be performed in the SharePoint list.
This is a calendar list of events. It is not a calendar of an individual's Outlook calendar, but a calendar that displays date values of a list. Typically, this type of list is used as a team calendar to track meeting dates or as a resource booking tool like a conference room or overhead projector. A typical business scenario of a calendar list could be for resource booking requests that require an approval process. Custom fields can be added to the list such as department and resource. With this business scenario, there can be a view to display categorized departments and a sub category of the requested resource, so there is the ability to identify which departments are making the requests and for what resources.
An advantage a calendar list has over an Outlook calendar is that different views can be created to show list items in different formats. The calendar list can also be synchronized into Outlook.
|Read more about this book|
(For more resources on Microsoft Sharepoint, see here.)
To manage a list, you will need to customize it to meet your needs. The interface for most of these actions is on the Ribbon in the selected List tab.
(Move the mouse over the image to enlarge.)
The Ribbon has a lot of end user functionality and it can be confusing to users who are not familiar with it. It is important to remember that most of the functionality has been categorized into sections. If you look at the preceding screenshot, you will notice at the bottom of the ribbon there are section ribbon labels—View Format, Manage Views, Share & Track, Connect & Export, Customize List, and Settings. Often the functionality that you are looking for is within one of these sections rather than being immediately visible on the Ribbon.
When the number of items in a list is large or there are different users groups who want to view list items different ways, custom views should be created to filter and display content to meet a criteria.
This is one of the benefits of SharePoint over simple Windows folders—many departments can have different views into data from the same location.
Technically, there is no limit to the number of views that can be created in a list. However, the more views that exist, the more confusing the navigation is to the user.
To create a view, click on Create View on the Ribbon and a series of view styles will be displayed.
In the preceding screenshot, there is the option to choose the view format, which is the style of view that can be shown in a list.
Many users describe a view as a defined list of items in a table that can be sorted, filtered, and edited.
This is the typical web items style and most views created in a list are a Standard view, which is a linear list of items. To create a Standard View, click the Standard View text. This will present you with a view design template screen where the view design can be built.
The steps to build the view are:
- Name the view: Ideally, this should be named to represent the information it is displaying. The checkbox Make this the default view means this is the view that will be displayed when the list is first displayed when it is opened by the user.
- Select the audience of the view: Personal for yourself or Public for other user(s) to use.
- There is the ability to choose the order of the columns that are defined in the list by changing the ordering positions of the columns, and selecting the checkbox for each column name.
- Select the column that the view should be sorted on.
- Select filter criteria: This could be a category within a defined column on the form. There can be multiple filters applied to a view.
It is possible to filter a view to display only items that relate to the current user who is logged into SharePoint. This can be done by using the [Me] as the filter. For this filter to work, there must be a column type of Person or Group defined in the list. By using this filter technique, it may be possible to create fewer views if a view was required for different users.
- Select Inline Editing: This allows you to edit list items line by line in the standard view.
- Select Tabular View: This allows you to perform a bulk operation on items in a view, such as deleting or applying an alert to items all at once.
These two features in a view are useful for data manipulation within a list as it requires fewer steps for the user to perform tasks.
- If required, items in the view can be categorized with the Group By feature. This feature works best when there are Choice field types in the list (defined categories: New York, London, Hong Kong) so items can be categorized with a defined set of values in a field.
By using categorizing of data, lists that contain many items are easier for the user to read and allow navigation drill down to specific items that may be of interest. There can also be sub categories in a list to further drill down though list content.
- A Total value can be added to some columns in a view. This is a useful feature in performing basic mathematical operations on particular columns: Count, Average, Maximum, Minimum, Sum, Standard Deviation, and Variance. If you want to track the total sum of active issues assigned to you, the Sum selection would be chosen under the Assigned To section.
Totals cannot be applied to all columns in a list, such as multiple value keyword columns.
This can affect performance if the list is large. For example, with over 2,000 items, the view not only displays the additional information, but also calculates additional data. If performance becomes an issue and Totals are in the view then it may be worth considering the Export to Spreadsheet option in the view and perform calculations from within Excel.
- Select the style: The default style is adequate for most views. If you are comparing a lot of information in a view, the Shaded style alternates colors of the rows so there is less confusion with comparing items between rows. If a list has a few columns in a view and your business requirement is to glance at the items and then view the entirety of the item, the Preview Pane view style is ideal as this style allows you to hover the curser over a list item in a view and all of the item's fields are displayed in the view. We have often seen this view style used when a list that is being used for technical logging activity information and this view style provides a quick navigation technique to read different list items very quickly.
- Item Limit: If the view is going to be placed on a page where there is not much room for a lot of items, limit the view. By sorting the view by the Created field, you can show the last items created. If the page is displaying a snapshot of list activity this may be satisfactory.
- Mobile: If the SharePoint server can be accessed externally then your mobile device can access the view.
- Click OK to save the view.
The standard view is now created and has field columns with a similar look and feel to a spreadsheet. By clicking on an item in the view, the entire item will open.
The calendar view shows list items in a web Outlook calendar format—monthly, weekly, or daily. The creation process of a calendar view is similar to the steps for a Standard view. The list will require date values to display correctly.
Certain functionalities have been removed as this is a calendar display rather than a linear list of items.
This link does not open the Access application and allow you to create SharePoint views; rather, it allows you to create Access reports of list data and Access forms to enter information into a list.
There is often a business requirement to provide reports from list data. The best graphical reporting tools for SharePoint data are Access and Excel as both these products have strong reporting capabilities, and often senior management are familiar with reports produced in these tools.
Information can be entered and submitted to a list from an Access form. An advantage of this input method is that the form's interface can be further customized than a list form, such as placing the fields in tabular table columns. This is useful if the form has a lot of fields.
The creation process of a Datasheet view is similar to the steps for a Standard view. This view format provides you with a view that has a similar functionality to a spreadsheet where the fields in the columns are editable. This is useful for bulk editing of information where there is a lot of copying items to and from different cells.
The creation process of a Gantt view is similar to the steps for a Standard view. This view format is ideal for milestone project management activities of a list.
It is possible to create views from existing views in the list, simply by clicking on an existing view from the list. By using an existing view, the deployment of views in a list is quicker because an existing view can act as a template for other views in the list.
This will create a new view based on an existing view in the list.
If you have many similar views in a list, such as views assigned to multiple users, we recommend that you create a view that has all the required information, and create the other separate views from this view.
To modify created views, click on List on the Ribbon and select the Modify View menu, and then select Modify View. This will open the Edit View page, which is identical to the Create View page.
On the Edit View page there is a delete button. This will delete the view that is being edited.
If the view is the default view in the list, it cannot be deleted.
In this article we gained knowledge of List Management.
In the next article, How to Manage Content in a List in Microsoft Sharepoint, we will see how to add, view, edit, and manage content to a list.
- Interacting with Data on the SharePoint Server [Article]
- How to Manage Content in a List in Microsoft Sharepoint [Article]
- Microsoft Sharepoint 2010: Rules for End User Deployment [Article]
- Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Administration Cookbook [Book]
- SharePoint Designer Tutorial: Working with SharePoint Websites [Book]
- Microsoft SharePoint 2010 End User Guide: Business Performance Enhancement [Book]