SharePoint 2010: Architecture Fundamentals - SharePoint Lists, Libraries, and Items, Pages, Navigation

10/24/2012 1:37:28 AM

1. SharePoint Lists, Libraries, and Items

Once you have a site, you can populate a site with lists and libraries. You can think of lists and libraries as analogous to tables in a database. Each list (or library) can hold many items. To create a list, select Site Actions → More Options. You can sort the categories by either Library or Lists. In addition, you can create views, which enable you to create custom ways to look at the items within a list or library, providing customized sorting and filtering options. We highly recommend creating custom filtered views for your lists because this provides a better user experience for users while reducing the load on SharePoint.

SharePoint 2010 introduces a resource governor that notifies a user if the system is trying to display a view with too many items (typically >5,000). This is to prevent a common problem in SharePoint 2007 whereby a list with a large number of items could slow the server down (or worse yet, crash the server completely).

If you’ve customized any lists or libraries, you can save them as templates (much in the same way you can save a site template). To save a list or library as a template, click Library Settings from the ribbon and then select Save <library/list> as Template. Give the template a filename, template name, description, and select whether to save content. List and library templates are stored in the List Template Gallery, which is located at http://<your_site_name>/_catalogs/lt/Forms/AllItems.aspx (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. The List Template Gallery enables you to provide list and library templates for users

To use a list or library template, simply create a new list or library; your custom template will appear in the custom section.

2. Pages

As mentioned earlier, pages are items that are stored within a site that enable a user to view information. There are two main types of pages: content pages and Web Part pages. Content pages are useful for when users will want to directly edit the content on the page itself. These pages can contain text, images, and other content. Web Part pages are typically used to aggregate information from other sources, whether those sources are lists, libraries, or data pulled from databases or the Web.

Every site contains a library called Site Pages, which is where new pages are stored. To create a new page, simply click Site Actions → More Options. Next click Page under the Filter By menu (Figure 2).

Figure 2. The Create Page option enables you to create either a content page (which is good for direct editing), or a Web Part page (which is better for aggregating information stored in other places)

Use pages when you want to display information within a site, but don’t create a new site unless you need to; you’re better off simply creating more pages within your existing site.

Make sure your users are educated on the difference between sites and pages. It might seem obvious, but many users are confused by this.

3. Navigation

SharePoint 2010 has added a number of new user interface elements, most noticeably the ribbon. This section covers the ins and outs of the new interface.

The Navigate Up icon, which is the small yellow folder with the green up arrow on the top of the page, provides a hierarchical view of the site, enabling a user to navigate directly to the site of his or her choice (see Figure 3). This button can be a handy way to quickly jump to another page in the hierarchy and exists mainly due to the ribbon obscuring the breadcrumb, depending on which tab the user has open.

Figure 3. The Navigate Up button shows the user a view of the site hierarchy, enabling direct navigation


Within your sites, rename the titles from the default, Home, to something more descriptive. This results in a much better navigation experience for users.

Next to the Navigate Up button is the Edit button, which is the small icon that turns the page into Edit mode. Next to that is the Browse tab, which shows the site breadcrumb. Finally, the Page tab lets the user check the page out, edit properties about the page, e-mail a link, and set page permissions (Figure 4).

Figure 4. The Page tab shows the user options for modifying attributes for the current page

In terms of menu-based navigation, there are two primary types: global navigation and current navigation. Global navigation is shown at the top of the page and shows the top-level sites, while current navigation shows elements within the current site (see Figure 5). You can change navigation elements via the Navigation link within the site’s Site Settings page.

Figure 5. Navigation within a site includes Global Navigation, shown at the top of the page, and Current Navigation, shown along the left side of the page. Both types of navigation are defined within the site’s master page and can be modified within Site Settings.

Adding Service Applications to the Mix

If you want to add additional functionality to your sites, you can make use of service applications, which can provide things like user profiles, enterprise search, and business connectivity services (among many other eatures). In MOSS 2007, services were grouped together within a Shared Services Provider (SSP). In Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, this is no longer the case. Instead, service applications are hosted within SharePoint Foundation 2010 and no longer have to be grouped within an SSP. This makes the configuration of service offerings much more flexible (and much more prone to spaghetti architecture). Single services can be configured independently from one another. In addition, third-party software vendors can add services to the platform.

Figure 6 shows Central Administration has its own, dedicated site. Figure 7 shows how service applications are organized in SharePoint 2010 (and how they compare to SharePoint 2007).

Figure 6. Central Administration has its own site

Figure 7. Gone are Shared Service Providers (SSPs). You can create multiple service application instances if your environment needs them—for example, if you need to keep searches between your business units separate.


SharePoint Server 2010 does not support service applications over a WAN. This factor can impact design and deployment in large organizations.

Putting It All Together

To illustrate how sites, templates, and service applications work together, consider this: A portal is constructed simply by using a SharePoint Foundation 2010 site (after all, everything is a site), plus a portal template (for example, the Enterprise Publishing Site template), plus some service applications. This gets you a portal.

Sites, templates, and services are important to understand, given that how you configure your portal and team sites largely depend on that understanding. Another consideration is who in your organization will administer various parts of your SharePoint environment. The next section covers how SharePoint administration is segmented and why it matters.

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