Understanding the Basics of Collaboration in SharePoint 2010 : Microsoft Office Integration

10/17/2012 4:14:11 AM
SharePoint 2010 is more closely tied to the Microsoft Office application suite than previous versions. Along with the traditional Office integration features such as editing, check-out, and version control on Office documents, integration has been extended to include retrieving data from SharePoint lists and libraries. Integration to enterprise line-of-business (LOB) data is also available through the SharePoint Business Connectivity Services (BSC).

1. SharePoint Workspace 2010

One of the more interesting Office integration components is the Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2010, which allows you to take SharePoint sites offline but maintain edit capability. SharePoint Workspace 2010 is a more evolved form of the product called Microsoft Groove, which allowed users to synchronize data and files between different systems. Many of the features in the Groove application still remain; however, those features are now adapted to include the SharePoint 2010 framework. SharePoint Workspace 2010 is also included with Microsoft Office Ultimate 2010 and is a must have for any users who are mobile and out of the office on a regular basis.

When SharePoint Workspace 2010 has been installed on the client system, it can begin synchronizing to SharePoint 2010 sites. Depending on the size of the SharePoint sites that need to be synchronized, you should probably recommend to users that they connect their laptop or desktop computer to the corporate local area network (LAN) during the synchronizing process to ensure that all content is initially downloaded successfully. The user’s computer must have adequate storage space, of course, to synchronize the SharePoint sites successfully.

The first time you execute the SharePoint Workspace 2010 application, you will need to create an account profile. When you complete the profile, the Launchbar is loaded (refer to Figure 1-45 for an idea of what the Launchbar looks like), and you will then need to attach to the SharePoint 2010 Server by completing the following steps.

  1. Click New on the Home tab.

  2. Type the SharePoint 2010 server name, such as http://myservername.

  3. Click OK when asked if you want to synchronize the site.

  4. Synchronizing will begin automatically, and when it has completed, you will see a notification page, similar to the one shown in Figure 1, that indicates the status of the synchronization process. You might find that there are some sites, lists, or libraries that are not supported yet.

    Figure 1. SharePoint Workspace synchronization notification page

  5. At this point, SharePoint Workspace 2010 is now working online and will synchronize a single site at a time. If more than one site needs to be synchronized, the user must return to the initial SharePoint Workspace 2010 launch menu and create another link to a SharePoint site. The SharePoint Workspace Launchbar is shown in Figure 2. All sites that have been synchronized will be shown here.

When the site has finished synchronizing, there are a wide variety of actions you can perform on a site from within SharePoint Workspace 2010. For example, you can search items synchronized to the desktop from the Launchbar just as if you were accessing the SharePoint site in a browser. You can also set up alerts to notify a user of changes in the SharePoint site content.

Figure 2. The SharePoint Workspace Launchbar

To add a site contact, click the Add Contact button in the Ribbon; to delete a contact, highlight the contact in the main panel and press the Delete key on the keyboard.

To open or work on documents in a synchronized site, click the SharePoint site name from the Launchbar. The SharePoint site will open and provide access to the available lists, libraries, and other site content. Figure 2 is an example of a SharePoint team site synchronized to SharePoint Workspace 2010.

In Figure 3, content is available for the user to access either online or offline. This functionality allows a user to synchronize a SharePoint site to a laptop computer and access documents even when disconnected from the corporate network. Certain list types and pages are available only if the workspace is connected to the SharePoint site, however. These lists and pages are clearly identified in the workspace client. In Figure 3, the lists in the Available On Server column are only available when the user is connected to the corporate LAN.

Figure 3. A SharePoint Workspace 2010 team site

The Project Tasks list in the example in Figure 3, however, is available offline and utilizes a customized InfoPath form for data entry. These forms are available offline, so users can enter data and synchronize it back to the server without error. Just as the SharePoint Ribbon changes based on field types, the Workspace client also changes. Some of the Ribbon items, such as workflow and custom Ribbon icons, are not available in the workspace; to use them, a user must connect to SharePoint Workspace 2010 using a Web browser.

In Figure 4, the Ribbon shows the actions you can take on a site that is synchronized through SharePoint Workspace 2010.

Figure 4. The SharePoint Workspace 2010 Ribbon

The Sync tab allows you to synchronize a site manually and provides you with the ability to redefine synchronization settings and check the status of the last synchronization operation. The View tab on the Ribbon is similar to the view settings in a Web browser—you can define and use different views on a list or library. In addition, you can use the View tab to open new workspace windows to view multiple sets of data at the same time, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. SharePoint Workspace 2010 View Ribbon

In general, the new SharePoint Workspace 2010 is a valuable tool that has been added to the SharePoint suite of products to enable users to interact and collaborate when they are out of the office and unable to access a SharePoint site directly.

2. Microsoft Word 2010

One of the new features in Microsoft Office 2010 is a Share option that allows you to publish a document to a SharePoint site without manually uploading the file first. After you create a document in Microsoft Word 2010, for example, you can click the File tab and then select Share to open the page shown in Figure 6. Then click the Save To SharePoint option and select a SharePoint site location, and the document will be uploaded automatically to the SharePoint site.

Figure 6. Uploading a document to a SharePoint site directly from Microsoft Word 2010

Also located under the File tab is the Info option, which displays SharePoint-related information about setting permissions, checking document properties, and version/check-out status. Figure 7 shows an example of the information that is displayed.

Figure 7. Microsoft Word file information displayed using the Info tab

Microsoft Word 2010 can also use SharePoint 2010 list data for mail merges and form information. The techniques for handling list data from SharePoint 2010 are similar for all Office products, such as Excel, and provide users with ubiquitous access to SharePoint information.

3. Support for Other Microsoft Office Products

With the release of SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010, the compatibility between applications is nearly seamless. Items such as the Ribbon allow a user to work, collaborate, and share information with colleagues, clients, and partners seamlessly and without concern for user locale, with only minimal training. Enhancements to products like Microsoft Excel 2010, for example, allow a user to process a very large list of line of business data from a remote system within seconds.

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