Understanding the Basics of Collaboration in SharePoint 2010 : Working with Lists and Libraries (part 1) - List Input Form

10/10/2012 7:36:47 PM
You add content to a SharePoint site using lists and libraries. Lists and their associated views provide a flexible mechanic for storing most kinds of information. Libraries, a special form of a list, usually store documents and their associated metadata. Lists and libraries provide users the ability to gain feedback instantly, get updates, and see historical information on data much more quickly and easily than using traditional methods of communication such as e-mail, network file shares, and so on.

SharePoint 2010, like previous versions, stores data in lists that are similar to Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. Much of the data consumed in SharePoint sites is located in lists, and each list item contains unique attributes. SharePoint 2010 offers standard templates to create lists as well as to provide the capability to create custom lists based on the structure and requirements of a user’s application.

1. List Enhancements

SharePoint 2010 contains list enhancements to assist content administrators in gaining better control of their data. Configuration options and content control allow business users and content administrators to manage and ensure that fresh, relevant content to their users. Some of the list enhancements are

  • New input form

  • New list view

  • Enhanced list lookup capabilities

  • Referential integrity in the list—enforcing unique values

  • Cascading deletes

2. List Input Form

One key to keeping data consistent in lists is the methodologies the users use to input data. If the user is required to upload data, remember links, and/or break information into separate pieces, each step paves the way to errors and input control issues. One change to lists that was frequently requested in the past has finally been added as an enhancement to SharePoint 2010: the ability to provide a single interface for adding list information, whether it is an image, document, link, or other textual information. Furthermore, the input screens, which were not always easy to use—especially for a beginner SharePoint user—have also been improved.

The new data entry forms for list items are much more user friendly. Gone are the difficult-to-edit HTML pages that defined user inputs; now an elegant pop-up form provides you with an easy method for user input. Figure 1 shows the new input form for SharePoint lists.

Figure 1. The new SharePoint 2010 list input form

The new Ribbon provides easy access to relevant information necessary for updating the list item. The Ribbon icons change depending on the context and the column type. For example, if you are working in a rich text field, you’ll be presented with many familiar Microsoft Word functions, such as the Editing Tools tab on the Ribbon, shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. The Editing Tools tab on the Ribbon

Further, when you click the Insert tab under Editing Tools, the new forms that appear allow you to insert a table, picture, or link onto the page. You can also upload a picture directly into the rich text box to provide additional information as needed to describe the list item. The process of adding graphic elements to a page has been streamlined—no longer do you have to leave the Add or Edit form to first upload an image, then find the URL, and finally paste it in the box. Figure 3 shows the interface presented when an image is uploaded. Note that SharePoint will automatically upload the image into the list you specified.

Figure 3. The Select Picture dialog box allows you to upload an image directly to the list you specify.

The seamless interface is continued, as shown in Figure 4, by prompting you for the title of the image and any other columns defined by the SharePoint library selected.

Figure 4. Set file properties for an uploaded image

After the file successfully uploads to the list, the List Edit page reloads and the Ribbon now contains a Picture Tools tab. This tab allows you to execute actions on the image, such as changing the picture, position, size, and URL information, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. The Picture Tools tab lets you manipulate an image uploaded to a list.

Inserting a table is just as simple and also offers rich features you can use to customize the table. The methods are very similar to inserting a table in a Microsoft Word document, setting the rows and columns and selecting table styles and formatting elements. The Table Tools Layout tab on the Ribbon provides you with an array of table layout functions, shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6. The Table Tools Layout tab on the Ribbon

The Table Tools Design tab features the Ribbon shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7. The Table Tools Design tab on the Ribbon

The method for formatting URLs has been improved as well. When you insert a URL using the Ribbon, you can type a description, open the link into a new tab, and display an icon. Figure 8 shows the Link Tools tab on the Ribbon, with options for formatting hyperlinks.

Figure 8. The Link Tools tab on the Ribbon provides options for formatting URLs as links on a page.

With SharePoint 2010, you have many options for entering information into lists, and with enhanced features such as the rich text box, you can clearly articulate the information requested by list content managers.

Another feature new to list form templates are the Add New and Edit forms. These forms are similar to each other, providing another consistent user interface. When you click Edit in the Ribbon, the Edit form opens and you can use it to perform data updates on the list item. When you edit an existing list item, you also can view more information about it to manage permissions, check version history (if available for the list), or delete the list item. The Edit form is shown in Figure 9.

Figure 9. SharePoint 2010 Edit form

When you have updated the item, the list view will look like the screen shown in Figure 10. Notice that in the list view you see the full rich text of the list elements.

Figure 10. Rich text list view

The seamless data entry process provided in SharePoint 2010 will reduce data errors and frustration levels for all users. Now you can easily enter data in a format that suits your needs, and power users and content managers will have cleaner, more appropriate data with less expensive custom development efforts.

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