Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Power User Cookbook

By Adrian Colquhoun
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  1. Getting Started—SharePoint Essentials

About this book

The power of Microsoft SharePoint as the Enterprise collaboration platform is ever-growing; due to the wide range of capabilities it offers, SharePoint 2010 can help transform your business so you can quickly respond to the changes and challenges that you face. For End Users, SharePoint helps you and your team work "better, faster, and smarter". This book will take your SharePoint knowledge further, showing you how to use your skills to solve real business problems.

While many other titles might be characterized as "SharePoint Explained", this cookbook contains advanced content that goes beyond that found in other SharePoint End User offerings: it is "SharePoint Applied". It provides recipes walking Power Users through a range of collaboration, data integration, business intelligence, electronic form, and workflow scenarios, as well as offering three invaluable business scenarios for building composite applications.

The cookbook begins by providing a comprehensive treatment of SharePoint essentials, while quickly moving forward to topics like Data Integration, Business Intelligence, and automating business processes. At the end of the book, the information presented in the earlier recipes is combined to create three example SharePoint 2010 "composite applications" for Human Resources (HR), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Project Management. Composite applications are the "unique selling point" of SharePoint 2010 and understanding how to create them is the key to unlocking the business value of the product.

Publication date:
October 2011
Publisher
Packt
Pages
344
ISBN
9781849682886

 

Chapter 1. Getting Started—SharePoint Essentials

In this chapter, we will cover:

  • Creating a SharePoint list

  • Creating a site column

  • Creating a content type

  • Creating and accessing my My Site

  • Updating my user profile

  • Tracking colleagues using my My Site

  • Viewing the SharePoint sites I am a member of

  • Tagging a SharePoint page so I can find it again later

  • Reviewing the tags and notes other users have posted on a SharePoint page

  • Adding an alert to a SharePoint page

  • Managing my alerts in SharePoint

  • Determining my permissions in a SharePoint site

  • Checking another user's permissions in a SharePoint site

  • Applying unique permissions to a SharePoint list

 

Introduction


The recipes in this chapter cover SharePoint fundamentals essential for every SharePoint user.

The first three recipes of this chapter will introduce you to some of the fundamental building blocks of SharePoint: lists, site columns, and content types. Pay particular attention to content types. As your knowledge of SharePoint grows, you will come to realize that these are key to unlocking all the magic that SharePoint has to offer.

SharePoint 2010 Server provides the ability to give each user his/her own individual My Site. This site contains a wealth of tools for sharing information, tagging content, and tracking other users. Think of your My Site as the hub of your workings within SharePoint, it is your LinkedIn or Facebook site in the enterprise. The next six recipes in this chapter will show you how use your My Site effectively.

SharePoint makes it very easy to create websites where you can collaborate and share information. But keeping track of changes across hundreds of sites can be a challenge. Thankfully SharePoint allows you to register for alerts so that you can be notified when there is something new or updated that you should look at. Recipes are included that show you how to create new alerts and how to manage the alerts you already have.

The final three recipes tackle SharePoint 2010 security, introducing permissions, permission levels, and the security trimmed user interface from a practical business perspective.

We will learn how to create more building blocks, such as sites and document libraries, in later chapters. But enough of the introductory waffle. Let's get started!

 

Creating a SharePoint list


SharePoint is built around lists. If you want to store things in SharePoint, then you will need to know how to create the different types of list. This recipe shows you how.

Getting ready

This recipe works for:

  • SharePoint 2010 Foundation

  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Online (Office 365 Edition)

You require either the Design or the Full Control permission level to create a new SharePoint list.

The choice of lists that you have available is determined by the SharePoint version you have. SharePoint 2010 Standard and Enterprise editions add more lists to those already available in SharePoint 2010 Foundation.

How to do it...

  1. Open the Site Actions menu and select the More Options menu option.

  2. SharePoint will now show all the different types of content you can create. Filter your view by clicking on List on the left side of the window.

  3. Choose the type of list that you want to create. Enter the name of the list and then click on the Create button.

  4. The new list will be created and displayed. You can now add items to your list, continue to customize it, or connect it to your office applications as you wish.

How it works...

SharePoint stores information in lists, in fact almost everything in SharePoint is stored in lists. Document libraries (for storing documents), media libraries (for audio and video files), and form libraries (for storing InfoPath forms) are all just special types of lists. Lists are a fundamental building block in SharePoint.

This recipe shows you how to create a list. You need to tell SharePoint the template (meaning the type of list) that you want to create and provide some basic properties (such as the name of the list). SharePoint will then do the rest, adding the columns, views, and configuring the list as required.

Once your list has been created, you can start adding data or customize it further. There are many options and variations for doing this, which are covered in later recipes throughout this book.

There are many different list templates available. Each template provides different columns, views, and other functionality designed to support its particular function. I have listed some of the common ones in the next section.

There's more...

SharePoint Foundation provides a core set of list templates, and the Standard and Enterprise versions of SharePoint add a whole lot more. The choice of lists that you will be able to create depends on which site you are in and which features have been activated. However, some of the more commonly encountered lists are as follows:

List

Description

Announcements

A list of news items, statuses, and other short bits of information.

Calendar

A calendar of upcoming meetings, deadlines, or other events. Calendar information can be synchronized with Microsoft Outlook or other compatible programs.

Contacts

A list of people your team works with, like customers or partners. Contacts lists can synchronize with Microsoft Outlook or other compatible programs.

Custom List

A blank list to which you can add your own columns and views. Use this if none of the built-in list types are similar to the list you want to make.

Custom List in Datasheet View

A blank list which is displayed as a spreadsheet in order to allow easy data entry. You can add your own columns and views. This list requires a compatible datasheet ActiveX control such as the one provided in Microsoft Office.

Discussion Board

A place to have newsgroup-style discussions. Discussion boards make it easy to manage discussion threads and can be configured to require approval for all posts.

External List

An external list to view the data in an External Content Type.

Import Spreadsheet

A list which duplicates the columns and data of an existing Spreadsheet. Importing a spreadsheet requires Microsoft Excel or another compatible program.

Issue Tracking

A list of issues or problems associated with a project or item. You can assign, prioritize, and track the status of issues.

Links

A list of web pages or other resources.

Project Tasks

A place for team or personal tasks. Project tasks lists provide a Gantt Chart view and can be opened by Microsoft Project or other compatible programs.

Survey

A list of questions that you would like to have people answer. Surveys allow you to quickly create questions and view graphical summaries of the responses.

Tasks

A place for team or personal tasks.

You can use this recipe to experiment with the different types of lists that you can create and get to know their functionality.

"Roll your own"—creating custom lists

If none of the SharePoint lists described earlier meets your needs, you are more than welcome to create your own. SharePoint gives you the custom list template as a basic starting point. Once you have created a custom list, you can add whatever columns, views, and custom settings you need to achieve the purpose that you have in mind. Refer to Creating a custom list in Chapter 3 for more details.

Lists to show external data

Before SharePoint 2010, SharePoint lists were limited to just displaying and updating data found within SharePoint. However, SharePoint 2010 introduced the concept of External Lists. SharePoint 2010 can now take data from an external source (such as database) and show it to users as a SharePoint list. The users can edit that information and the update will get written back to the database, all without a single line of code or a developer in site. The recipe Creating an external list in Chapter 3 shows you how to do so.

How much data can your store in a list

One of the problems with earlier versions of SharePoint was that it was easy to store too much data in a list, making the whole thing slow down. In IT speak, SharePoint lists "didn't scale well". Thankfully, SharePoint 2010 has resolved those issues and you can now store far more information in a SharePoint list than you ever really should.

The magic numbers for reference are:

  • Up to 30,000,000 items in a list (or documents in a document library)

  • Up to 400,000 major versions of a document

  • Up to 1,000 different security scopes (custom permissions)

  • 8K bytes per list item (7,744 bytes reserved for custom columns)

The number of columns that you can add to a list depends on the type of columns that you add, as different columns take up different amounts of space. Column widths range from 4 to 40 bytes, and there are rules about how many of the same kind of columns you can add to a list. You can find a full list of these rules at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262787.aspx#Column.

For all practical scenarios, if your SharePoint list usage is anywhere approaching these limits, then you are probably doing something wrong and I suggest you give a good SharePoint architect a call for help!

See also

  • Adding a slide library to share PowerPoint slides, Chapter 2

  • Creating a SharePoint contact list and connecting it to Outlook 2010, Chapter 2

  • Creating a custom list, Chapter 3

  • Creating an external list, Chapter 3

 

Creating a site column


We can add custom columns to our SharePoint lists. However, having to recreate the same column over and over again quickly becomes a pain. Site columns, which are shared between all the sites in your site collection, are the answer.

Getting ready

This recipe works for:

  • SharePoint 2010 Foundation

  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Online (Office 365 Edition)

You require either the Design or Full Control permission level to create a site column.

How to do it...

  1. In the top-level site of your site collection, open the Site Actions menu and select the Site Settings option.

  2. From the Site Settings page, select the Site Columns link from the Galleries heading.

  3. The Site Columns page is displayed. Existing site columns are listed on this page. To create a new site column, click on the Create link at the top of the page.

  4. Enter a name for your site column, select its data type, and click on OK.

  5. Your new column is created and added to the list of site columns.

How it works...

SharePoint lists are made up of different columns. These columns can be defined locally (on each list as they are needed) or as site columns, which can be shared by lists throughout the site collection.

If you think that you will need a column more than once, then you should once consider creating it as a site column rather than just adding it to your list directly.

Site columns are particularly useful for columns that contain lookup data or a set of choices (for example, your company's departments or its locations). Using site columns helps you get more consistency in the information that you store within SharePoint.

Site columns are a necessary first step to creating content types, as described in the next recipe.

See also

  • Creating a content type

  • Creating a list column based on a term set, Chapter 3

  • Creating an external content type, Chapter 3

 

Creating a content type


This recipe shows you how to create a content type. Content types are a powerful way to model real world objects in SharePoint.

Getting ready

This recipe works for:

  • SharePoint 2010 Foundation

  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Online (Office 365 Edition)

You require either the Design or Full Control permission level to create a content type.

You will need one or more site columns to add to your content type as you create it. If you need instructions on how to create a site column, then please refer to Creating a site column recipe.

How to do it...

  1. In the top-level site of your site collection, open the Site Actions menu and select the Site Settings option.

  2. From the Site Settings page, select Site content types link from the Galleries heading.

  3. The Site Content Types page is displayed. To create a new content type, click on the Create link.

  4. Give the content type a Name, Description, and Parent Content Type (to inherit from). You can add the content type to an existing group or create a new group for this content type as you wish.

  5. Click on the OK button to create the content type.

  6. Your new content type will be created and displayed in the list of available content types.

How it works...

SharePoint lists and libraries have a fairly major shortcoming: every item must have the same columns applied. Imagine a real-world scenario, such as the account department of your organization. They might want to store many different types of documents, such as invoices, purchase orders, bills received, credit notes, and so on. The different documents need different columns (or metadata) associated with them. For an invoice, customer amount and due date might be important. A purchase order might record a purchase order number, supplier name, expected delivery date, and payment terms. How can we store all these different types of documents in the same document library? Content types are the answer.

Content types allow us to define the document template and metadata columns for a particular type of document. In our accounts department scenario, we would create a content type for "invoice" and another content type (with different columns and template) for "purchase order". Once we have created the content types, we could add them to our accounts department document library. Now rather than creating a new document, SharePoint will provide us with the ability to create a new invoice or new purchase order in the library. The recipe Using content types to store different types of documents in the same document library in Chapter 4 describes how to do this.

Content types are built up in a hierarchy. The content types you create must extend either a built-in type (such as document) or a custom type that you have previously created.

Content types can be defined centrally and shared throughout all the SharePoint sites within the organization. They can have "business rules" information management policies and workflows attached. Wherever the content type is used, a consistent template, metadata, and rules can be applied.

Content types can be used to bring order to the "information chaos" that most organizations experience. Defining and sharing content types for real-world business objects is the key to unlocking all the power of SharePoint. Use them!

See also

  • Creating a site column

  • Using content types to store different types of documents in the same document library, Chapter 4

  • Creating an external content type, Chapter 3

 

Creating and accessing my My Site


This recipe shows you how to access your My Site. The content of your My Site is created the first time you access it.

Getting ready

This recipe works for:

  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Online (Office 365 Edition)

My Sites must be configured and active in the SharePoint installation. You can run this recipe from any SharePoint 2010 site that you have access to.

How to do it...

  1. From within any SharePoint site. Click on your name (top right of the page). Select the My Site link from the menu that is displayed.

  2. You are presented with the generic My Newsfeed. Once you have created your My Site and started tracking colleagues, this is the page where you will see their updates.

  3. To actually create your own individual My Site (or access it again if you created it earlier), click on the My Content link at the top of the page.

    Note

    There may be a short delay while your My Site is created.

  4. Your My Site is created and the My Content page is displayed.

How it works...

Your My Site is a special SharePoint site designed especially for you. It is the site where you can store private documents, videos, and other SharePoint content, or where you add content that you want to share with others. You can use your My Site to access and update your User Profile (information about yourself), track your colleagues, reference the information that you have tagged on other SharePoint sites, and so on. Think of your My Site as your LinkedIn or Facebook site in the enterprise. Your My Site is the hub of your interaction with the many SharePoint 2010 sites that you will eventually be granted access to. It is also the site where you are likely to have the highest permission levels, so it makes it a great place to try out the other recipes presented in this book.

Note

Some organizations shy away from implementing My Sites because they worry that the functionality might be abused by their staff. To my mind, this is a bit like owning a Ferrari and then leaving it parked in the garage. My Sites are central to SharePoint 2010's communities and collaboration functionality—I strongly recommend that you make use of them.

There's more...

If you know the URL where the My Sites have been created in your SharePoint installation, then you can access your My Site directly without needing to first visit another SharePoint site. The address might be something similar to http://my.sp2010cookbook/default.aspx. Access your My Site using this recipe and then have a look at the address displayed in your web browser to see what format has been used in your system.

See also

  • Updating my user profile

  • Tracking colleagues using my My Site

  • Viewing the SharePoint sites I am a member of

  • Tagging a SharePoint page so I can find it again later

  • Creating a blog in my My Site, Chapter 5

 

Updating my user profile


This recipe shows you how to update your user profile using your My Site.

Getting ready

This recipe works for:

  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Online (Office 365 Edition)

My Sites must be configured and active in your SharePoint installation.

How to do it...

  1. Open your My Site (refer to Creating and accessing my My Site recipe for instructions).

  2. Select the My Profile link.

  3. Select the Edit My Profile link.

  4. Make the changes you require in your profile.

  5. Click on the Save & Close button to save your changes.

How it works...

SharePoint 2010 stores information about users in their user profiles. It uses this information in news feeds, people searches, and audiences (to target information to particular groups of SharePoint users).

Your user profile is shown in your My Site. This is the place where you can view your profile as others would see it and make changes to the values stored in your user profile properties.

Depending on how your administrator has configured SharePoint, you won't be able to change all the properties that you see. Some information will be read only and may show information that has been imported from other external systems, such as your organization's Active Directory (where organizations commonly store user information). The properties you can see and change will have been preconfigured by your administrator and you may have different properties depending on your role in the organization (SharePoint allows administrators to create different "types" of profiles).

There's more...

One of the first things that you should do after you have created your My Site is to complete your user profile. This will allow co-workers to locate your skills, connect to you, and start to call on your (I have no doubt undervalued) experience. As soon as your profile is complete, you will start showing up in SharePoint's people search.

Who knows, you may get invited to work on the exciting new "Project X" or requested to meet a client or attend a conference in some beautiful exotic location. Keep your profile up-to-date if you want to maximize your opportunities.

Tip

Resist the temptation to upload inappropriate pictures or comments in your profile. Your colleagues (particularly your superiors) are unlikely to see the funny side. Remember that SharePoint is a set of tools to help you work better together. Save all the other stuff for your Facebook site.

See also

  • Creating and accessing my My Site

  • Reviewing the tags and notes other users have posted on a SharePoint page

  • Tagging a SharePoint page so I can find it again later

  • Viewing the SharePoint sites I am a member of

  • Tracking colleagues using my My Site

  • Creating a new document in your My Site, Chapter 4

  • Finding experts using a people search, Chapter 6

 

Tracking colleagues using my My Site


Before SharePoint, knowing who was doing what in an organization was really difficult. Now SharePoint can keep track of your colleagues automatically. This recipe shows you how.

Getting ready

This recipe requires your My Site. The recipe works for:

  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Online (Office 365 Edition)

My Site must be configured and active in the SharePoint installation.

How to do it...

  1. Open your My Site and navigate to the My Profile page.

  2. Select the Colleagues tab.

  3. Click on the Add Colleagues link.

  4. In the dialog displayed, enter the names of the colleagues you wish to add. You can choose if you want to add them to My Team and organize them into different groups. Adding colleagues to your team allows them to see more information from your user profile.

  5. When you have added all the colleagues that you need, click on the OK button.

  6. Your new colleague is now shown on your Colleagues tab and you can view their My Site by clicking on their name.

How it works...

SharePoint 2010 allows you to track your team members, colleagues, and subject matter experts through your My Site. When you add a colleague, you can add them to different groups such as My Team. Adding colleagues to your team will allow them to access more information from your user profile.

Once you have added a colleague, SharePoint will automatically keep you up-to-date with their activity. This includes the changes that they make to their user profiles, the content that they author, the pages that they tag, and their status message updates. All this information will be displayed on your My Newsfeed page when you again access your My Site. SharePoint will also send you e-mails to tell you about important changes and will even suggest colleagues to you based on its analysis of the colleagues you already have, and the people that they have added to their networks.

By tracking colleagues in this way, SharePoint helps you build up strong and effective networks within your organization. You can then leverage these networks to get your work done more effectively.

Tip

The track colleagues functionality wasn't invented by Microsoft to help you stalk "that pretty little thing from accounts". Using it for that purpose will almost certainly land you in a lot of trouble. Don't do it!

See also

  • Creating and accessing my My Site

  • Updating my user profile

  • Viewing the SharePoint sites I am a member of

  • Tagging a SharePoint page so I can find it again later

  • Creating a blog in my My Site, Chapter 5

 

Viewing the SharePoint sites I am a member of


As the number of SharePoint sites grow, it can be easy to lose track of them. Fortunately, SharePoint keeps tracks of the sites, which you are a member of, automatically. This recipe shows you how to see that list of sites.

Getting ready

This recipe requires your My Site. The recipe works for:

  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Online (Office 365 Edition)

My Site must be configured and active in the SharePoint installation.

How to do it...

  1. Go to your My Site.

  2. Select My Profile and then click on the My Memberships tab. A link to each site that you have been added to as a member is displayed.

  3. You can click on any link to navigate to that site.

How it works...

SharePoint 2010 automatically keeps track of the all the sites that you have been explicitly added to as a member (such as the sites that you can contribute to) and gives you a link to them on your membership tab in your My Site. You can use your My Site as your personal navigation hub. From any SharePoint sites, jump into your My Site, check your memberships, and jump back out to where you want to go. You need never be lost in SharePoint again!

Importantly, the memberships tab doesn't show the sites that you only have a read-only access to. If you want to save links to these sites, then tag them as described in the Tagging a SharePoint page so I can find it again later recipe. Confusingly, it also doesn't show the sites that you have or the ones which you have full control of. To see those sites, add yourself to the member group of the site.

SharePoint recalculates your memberships using a background timer job, so expect a delay between being added to the site and it showing up in your memberships tab.

See also

  • Creating and accessing my My Site

  • Updating my user profile

  • Tracking colleagues using my My Site

  • Tagging a SharePoint page so I can find it again later

  • Creating a blog in my My Site, Chapter 5

 

Tagging a SharePoint page so I can find it again later


This recipe shows you how to use SharePoint 2010's tags to bookmark information that you want to find again later.

Getting ready

This recipe works for:

  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Online (Office 365 Edition)

It requires you to be logged in and have read access but no other privileges are necessary.

You will need a My Site to be able to review and make use of the tags that you have created.

How to do it...

  1. Navigate to the page you wish to tag.

  2. Click on the Tags and Notes icon on the top-right of the screen.

  3. Enter the text for the tag you wish to apply into the dialog box. If you don't want anyone to know you added the tag, then check on the Private checkbox (other users will still see the tag's text).

  4. Click on the Save button.

  5. Navigate back to your My Site. Select the My Profile page and click on the Tags and Notes tab; your new tag will be displayed under Activities for heading.

  6. You can filter the activity view to a particular tag by clicking on it under the Refine by tag heading.

How it works...

SharePoint 2010 allows you to apply keyword tags to the information that you find. Once you tag an item, you will be able to find it gain from your My Site (just click on the tag).

Good tags to use might be the name of a project (for example, "Project X"), a department, or a technical term. By allowing users to tag content, the information in SharePoint is progressively classified and refined.

As you tag, SharePoint learns. It adds the tags you create into its own keyword set. As you type a tag, SharePoint will suggest tags based on the ones it already knows about. In this way SharePoint helps to build up a consistent tagging system through the enterprise.

The data tagged in SharePoint represents a powerful information set. SharePoint makes use of this everywhere, but particularly in its search results. When you search for "Project X", the pages that were tagged should appear higher than those that were not. Tags are like signposts, pointing users to relevant information. Tags can be used to refine your searches, getting you to the information that you really need with just a few clicks.

So tags don't just help you find information again, they help your colleagues find it too. So go on—get tagging!

There's more...

If you want to quickly tag pages that you approve of, SharePoint gives you a pre-created tag—"I Like It". Simply click on the I Like It icon on the top right side of the page and you are done.

See also

  • Creating and accessing my My Site

  • Performing a basic search, Chapter 6

  • Reviewing the tags and notes other users have posted on a SharePoint page

 

Reviewing the tags and notes other users have posted on a SharePoint page


Tags and notes bring SharePoint pages to life. You can start to access the collective intelligence and opinions of your co-workers by reviewing the tags and notes they leave for you.

Getting ready

This recipe works for:

  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Online (Office 365 Edition)

It requires you to be logged in and have read access but no other privileges are necessary.

How to do it...

  1. If there are tags or notes on a page, the Tags and Notes icon on the top right-hand corner of the page turns red. To review the information, click on the icon.

  2. The Tags and NoteBoard dialog is displayed. You can review the tags that other users have left on the page.

  3. To switch to the notes view, click on the Note Board.

How it works...

Tags help you find pages again or classify the information that they contain. Notes are public comments that you leave on the pages for others to see. Use notes to add to the content, to correct any obvious mistakes, or explain information that is unclear. Don't use notes for observations such as "the author of this page is obviously a blithering idiot" unless you are confident that you can defend your viewpoint to the Managing Director without getting fired.

See also

  • Creating and accessing my My Site

  • Tagging a SharePoint page so I can find it again later

  • Performing a basic search, Chapter 6

 

Adding an alert to a SharePoint page


SharePoint is a great place for people to share useful information. However, no doubt you are far too busy to keep checking your SharePoint sites on the off chance that someone posted something new. Alerts allow SharePoint to e-mail you when something interesting happens. This recipe shows you how to create them.

Getting ready

This recipe works for:

  • SharePoint 2010 Foundation

  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Online (Office 365 Edition)

It requires you to be logged in and have read access but no other privileges are necessary.

To create an alert, your SharePoint administrator will need to have configured your SharePoint server to send e-mail (or SMS messages). The Alert Me icon will not be displayed if the e-mail function is not enabled.

How to do it...

  1. Navigate to the page you wish to set an alert for. Select the Page tab from the ribbon and click on the Alert Me icon.

  2. From the drop-down list, click on Set an alert on this page.

  3. In the New Alert dialog box, enter an alert title, what you would like to be notified of, and the delivery method. You can also select what will trigger the alert.

  4. Once finished click on OK and your new alert will be saved.

    Note

    If you are logged into the site as an administrator, then you will be able to set alerts for other users. Otherwise you will only be able to set your own alerts.

How it works...

Think of SharePoint as a machine. There are lots of processes continually running in SharePoint that are just waiting to do useful work for you. One of these processes is SharePoint's alert system. It can send you e-mails when something changes in a SharePoint site. All you need to do is tell it what you want to know and how often you want to be told. The SharePoint alert system will do the rest.

You can register for alerts on all sorts of different SharePoint objects, such as sites, pages, documents libraries, shared calendars, blogs, and documents. Just select the object you are interested in and check the ribbon. If you see the Alert Me icon, then you will be able to set an alert. Alerts can be sent instantly or rolled up into daily or weekly summaries of changes. You can even opt to receive your alerts as an SMS too, assuming that your SharePoint administrators have configured this service.

There's more...

Users new to SharePoint often go "wow!" when they discover alerts. Pretty soon they are setting up alerts anywhere and everywhere. Then the e-mails start coming from SharePoint. On a busy SharePoint site, perhaps, tens or hundreds of alert e-mails are received every day. What started out as a good idea soon turns into information overload.

Think hard before setting up alerts. Only add them where you really need to know if something changes. Use the daily or weekly rollups where you can.

See also

  • Managing my alerts in SharePoint

  • Creating an alert on a document to be notified when it is updated, Chapter 4

  • Saving a search as an alert and being notified when the results change, Chapter 6

 

Managing my alerts in SharePoint


Alerts are a powerful way to let SharePoint keep you informed of important changes and updates. However, you will soon need to manage your alerts, removing the ones you don't really need and reducing the frequency of others so that you don't slip into alert overload. This recipe shows you how to manage your alerts and stay in control.

Getting ready

This recipe works for:

  • SharePoint 2010 Foundation

  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Online (Office 365 Edition)

It requires you to be logged in and have read access but no other privileges are necessary.

If you want to manage your alerts, then you will need to have created at least one alert before going through this recipe. The recipe Adding an alert to a SharePoint page shows you how.

How to do it...

  1. Open the SharePoint site that you wish to manage alerts for.

  2. Select the Page tab from the ribbon and click on the Alert Me icon.

  3. From the drop-down menu select the Manage My Alerts option.

  4. You will then be shown a list of all the alerts you have set for the site; from here you can create, edit, and delete alerts.

  5. You can add new alerts by clicking on the Add Alert link.

  6. To delete one or more alerts, select the checkbox and then click on the Delete Selected Alerts link.

  7. To change settings for an alert (for example, to change its frequency), click on the alert's title. This will take you into the alert's settings dialog where you can make any necessary changes.

How it works...

SharePoint offers you tremendous flexibility to create alerts and to specify why and how often you receive them. It provides built-in functionality to allow you to manage those alerts, create new alerts, and adjust or remove existing alerts for a single administration page. You can use this page to adjust your alerts, ensuring that you don't get overwhelmed by SharePoint alert e-mails.

See also

  • Adding an alert to a SharePoint page

  • Creating an alert on a document to be notified when it is updated, Chapter 4

  • Saving a search as an alert and being notified when the results change, Chapter 6

 

Determining my permissions in a SharePoint site


This recipe shows you how to work out the permission levels you have been granted in a SharePoint Team Site.

Getting ready

This recipe works for:

  • SharePoint 2010 Foundation

  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Online (Office 365 Edition)

You will need a SharePoint site that you want to check your permissions on. This recipe uses a Team Site for illustration.

You do not require any particular permission level to use this recipe. However, the outcome of this recipe is directly determined by the permission levels that you have been granted.

Note

You will only be able to follow this recipe as far as your permission levels will allow. If you have not been granted any access to the site, an error message will be displayed when you attempt to access it. Once you are unable to proceed, the recipe is complete. Check the How it works section for a detailed explanation of the permission levels that you have.

How to do it...

  1. Open Internet Explorer and navigate to the SharePoint Team Site that you want to check your permissions in.

  2. If the Team Site is displayed, then you have been granted Read permission level or higher (an Access Denied error means you have not been granted any access to the site).

  3. Access the Page ribbon on the home page. Confirm that you can see the Edit icon.

  4. Access any document library (for example, Shared documents), confirm that you can you can see the Add document link.

  5. If either item is present, then you have been granted at least the Contribute permission level in the Team Site.

  6. Access the Site Actions menu. The options displayed should match those in the following screenshot. If all these options are present, then you have been granted the Full Control permission level to the site. If the Site Permissions and New Site options are missing, then you only have the Design permission level.

How it works...

Everything that you can or can't do in SharePoint is determined by the permissions that you have been granted. SharePoint doesn't tell you the permissions that you have, it only stops you doing or seeing the things that require permissions that you do not have. SharePoint employs a "security trimmed user interface". This means that SharePoint doesn't let you see or do the things you don't have permissions for. It only shows you the content, menus, and commands that you are allowed to access.

Unfortunately, as a user, there is no built-in way to determine your permission levels. This recipe uses a systematic approach to work out the permission levels by testing for the functionality that is granted at each level. If we find the functionality we expect, then we can infer that you have been granted that permission level. As permission levels build up in a hierarchy, we start from the lowest level (that is, no access) and work upwards until we find all the permissions levels that apply to you.

Individual SharePoint permissions are collected together into permission levels. A SharePoint Team Site creates six permission levels by default: Limited Access, View Only, Read, Contribute, Design, and Full Control. You may have been allocated one or more permission levels in the site. The total permissions you have are the sum of all the permissions from the permission levels that you have been allocated.

Note

If you receive an Access Denied message when you try to open the site, then you have not been granted any permission levels at all.

The limited a ccess permission does not give any direct access to the site. It is designed to be combined with the fine-grained permissions to give access to just particular items within a site (for example, it is possible that you would have access to just a single document library in a site but nothing else). You will not normally encounter this except in highly customized sites.

If you can see the Team Site in your browser, then you have at least View Only or Read permissions level. For all practical purposes, these permissions levels are identical so we do not try to differentiate them any further in this recipe.

If you have the ability to change things in the Team Site (for example, edit pages or upload documents) then you have been granted at least the Contribute permission level, that is, you have the ability to contribute things to the site.

If you have access to the advanced commands located on the Site Actions menu, then you have been granted Design or Full Control permission level in the site. You will probably encounter the Full Control permission level in Team Sites that you are responsible for administering or within your My Site. Full Control means that you can access all the power of SharePoint within the bounds of the current collection of sites that you are working in. You will have the ability to create new sites, add users, set permission levels, and do all sorts of wonderful stuff. However, with power comes responsibility—there is also the potential to mess things up when you have full control! Don't worry, there are plenty of recipes in this book that will help you and make sure that doesn't happen.

There's more...

Checking your permission levels in other SharePoint sites

SharePoint provides the ability to create many different types of site, such as, Team Sites, My Sites, Document Workspaces, and Publishing Sites. Some of these sites introduce extra permission levels such as Manage Hierarchy or Approve. The same principles used to determine the permission levels in a Team Site can be applied to the other sites.

SharePoint users and groups

SharePoint permissions levels can be directly assigned to individual SharePoint users. However, administrators do not usually do this as it quickly becomes very complex and difficult to manage. Instead, SharePoint sites can contain groups. These groups are used to hold collections of users who all require the same permissions levels (that is, need to be able to play the same roles) in the site. Multiple permission levels are assigned to the SharePoint groups, and then the users, who require those permissions levels, are added to the group.

Understanding "securable objects" and inheritance

SharePoint has a hierarchy of securable objects that is things that can be secured by permissions in SharePoint. Normally, permission levels are inherited from their parent objects (as this keeps things simple and easy to manage). Site collections define the security to be applied and these settings are inherited down through all the sub sites, pages, document libraries, lists, documents, and list items that they contain.

However, this inheritance can be broken and permission levels can then be applied at any level in the hierarchy. We might want to do this in a number of scenarios—for example, to create a document library that contains sensitive document that only selected employees are allowed to see. If you encounter odd permissions or access errors within a SharePoint site, consider that the site administrator may have chosen to break the security inheritance and applied unique permissions to the item you are trying to access.

See also

  • Checking another user's permissions in a SharePoint site

  • Applying unique permissions to a SharePoint list

  • Adding users to a Team Site, Chapter 2

 

Checking another user's permissions in a SharePoint site


This recipe shows you how check another user's permissions in a SharePoint site.

Getting ready

This recipe works for:

  • SharePoint 2010 Foundation

  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition

  • SharePoint Online (Office 365 Edition)

You will need the URL of the SharePoint site you want to check your permissions on.

You will need the Full Control permission level to run this recipe. Normally, this will mean that you are a member of the site owner's group.

How to do it...

  1. Open Internet Explorer and navigate to the SharePoint site that you want to check you permissions for.

  2. Access the Site Actions menu and select the Site Permissions menu option.

  3. Select the Check Permissions icon on the Permission Tools ribbon.

  4. Enter the name of the user or group that you want to check the permissions for in the displayed dialog box. Click on the book icon to browse for the user if you are not sure of their name.

  5. Click on the Check Now button.

  6. The permission levels granted to the user (and the details of how those permission levels have been assigned) are displayed.

How it works...

As a user, everything that you can or can't to in SharePoint is determined by the permissions that you have been granted. Individual SharePoint permissions are collected together into permission levels. SharePoint 2010 provides built-in functionality that gives site owners the ability to check the permission of any user in a site.

There's more...

In SharePoint, security permissions are normally inherited with pages, lists, document libraries, and the items that they contain all inheriting their security permissions from the site which contains them. However, it is possible to break this inheritance and apply unique permissions to any of these items.

Where custom permissions have been applied, SharePoint 2010 provides the same Check Permissions functionality for each object. Just look for the Check Permissions icon on the ribbon for the list, document library, or page that you want to check the permissions for.

See also

  • Determining my permissions in a SharePoint site

  • Applying unique permissions to a SharePoint list

  • Adding users to a Team Site, Chapter 2

 

Applying unique permissions to a SharePoint list


Sometimes you will want to apply custom security settings to a SharePoint list to control who has access to it. This recipe shows you how.

Getting ready

This recipe works for:

  • SharePoint 2010 Foundation

  • SharePoint 2010 Standard Edition

  • SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition

  • SharePoint Online (Office 365 Edition)

You require either the Design or Full Control permission level to edit the permission settings of the list.

How to do it...

  1. Select the list that you wish to apply the custom permissions to by clicking on the link to your list in the Quick Launch navigation on the left side of the page.

  2. Select the List tab in the List Tools ribbon.

  3. Select the List Permissions icon in the List ribbon as shown in the following screenshot:

  4. The current permissions are displayed. You will see that the list is currently inheriting its permissions from the parent site. Select the Stop Inheriting Permissions icon.

  5. You will be prompted to confirm whether you want to create unique permissions on this list. Click on the OK button to continue.

  6. The previously inherited permissions still apply to your list, but any new permission added at the site level will not apply. If you don't want the original permissions, then you now need to remove them. Select the permissions that you do not require (using the tick box) and click on the Remove User Permissions icon on the ribbon.

    Tip

    Don't remove all your permissions from the list—you may lock yourself out from it!

  7. You will be prompted to confirm whether you want to remove the selected permissions. Click on the OK button to continue.

  8. Now add any new permissions that you want to apply just for this list. Click on the Grant Permissions button on the ribbon. In the dialog box displayed, add the users and permissions that you need.

  9. The unique permissions that you have assigned to your list are displayed. Review this information carefully to ensure that it is correct.

How it works...

Lists inherit their security settings from their parent site (which may in turn inherit its settings from its parent right up to the top of the site collection). The following diagram represents the inheritance hierarchy:

The first step of assigning custom permissions to a list is to break this inheritance. When you break inheritance on the list, the security permission it starts with are the permissions it was inheriting—you actually need to remove these permissions manually after breaking inheritance if you don't want them!

Once you have broken inheritance, you are free to add and remove permissions as you wish.

Use this functionality sparingly. It's generally considered bad practice to use custom SharePoint permissions extensively in your SharePoint sites, as this soon becomes very difficult to manage and control. It is all too easy to make a mistake and to give somebody access to information that they shouldn't see.

Tip

Always test your custom security settings by logging in as different users before you upload sensitive information such as the boards' new salaries. SharePoint will do exactly what you tell it to—get this wrong and you are on your own!

There's more...

Securing individual pages, document libraries, documents, and list items

Exactly the same principles can be used to break inheritance and apply custom permissions to individual pages, document libraries, documents, or list items. Just make sure that you really need to do this before applying custom security throughout your SharePoint sites and always test the changes that you have made.

Alternative ways to secure your sensitive content

There are other approaches you can take to secure sensitive information that might be more appropriate for your needs. One common way to do this is to create a completely separate site (of site collection) for your site collection and only add the users who really need access. That way you can still rely on permission inheritance and you don't have to mess around applying custom permissions further down the hierarchy.

If you want to store your own private documents in a library that only you can see, then your My Site has a specially configured document library, called Personal Documents, already set up and configured specifically for that purpose.

See also

  • Determining my permissions in a SharePoint site

  • Checking another user's permissions in a SharePoint site

  • Adding users to a Team Site, Chapter 2

About the Author

  • Adrian Colquhoun

    Adrian Colquhoun is a highly experienced expert SharePoint developer and founder of Intelligent Decisioning Ltd, a SharePoint specialist Microsoft Gold Partner with offices in Nottingham (UK) and Brisbane (Australia). He has been building enterprise software applications for more than 13 years and has been working with SharePoint since 2006. He holds all four Microsoft MCTS SharePoint 2007 certifications and is approved by Microsoft to provide SharePoint Server deployment and planning services. His multiple roles as business owner, Consultant, Developer, Trainer, and SharePoint End User give him a unique insight to pass on as an author.

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