Can I combine a document library with document links?

Question of the day from Sue:

So far, I have been told that there is no way of using hyperlinks to documents stored in other applications (such as other doc management systems) and to make them appear seamlessly to users as part of a library of documents. We are not looking to create the link as a separate item using the "links" web part. We would prefer that linked docs would pop up from metadata created for each linked document in a main list of documents (want all documents regardless of location to have the same appearance). Can this be done?

Sue, off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything. Maybe someone can add a comment on how they would approach this. Any takers?

Basic SharePoint Questions: “Why would I want to do that? What is the benefit to doing this?”

I received this very thoughtful message from Sasha this morning: 

As the end user who will be a primary architect of our new SharePoint 3.0 installation, I am learning lots about HOW to do things in SP, but not much about WHY to do things.  IMHO, it would be useful to read something like "if you are trying to do X in your business  (fulfill this business need) - then you need to do Y and here’s how to do it." 

It seems everything I read says "if you want to do Y, then here’s how." I can find no mention of X! I find myself continually saying "Why would I want to do that? What is the benefit to doing this?" Some things are obvious, but for those of us completely new to SP - much of it is NOT intuitive. I like to begin with the end in mind - but I’m having a hard time understanding what the "end state" will be like.

Please - some case studies or examples "here’s how company X solved this business problem with SP . . ." would be much appreciated!!

I take her point personally because she has cut to the very core of the End User dilemma: Why would someone use a specific functionality within SharePoint? Sasha, from this point forward, I’ll try to make sure and explain the context of the problem being solved so you’ll have a better handle on why I am suggesting a specific solution and how it might be better than the typical business workflow.

Sincerely, thanks for your comment.

Top Ten Tricks and Traps from this week’s End User SharePoint 2007 - The Basics Workshop

One of the fun things about giving a beginner’s workshop is getting off the slide deck and helping people with the things they run into in their work situation. Here is the short list of some of the questions that came up during the workshop this week. I’ll do some followup with extended explanations and screencasts on a couple of them, but in general once the solution is explained, it becomes one of those "Ah hah" moments. Hope you enjoy it. - Mark 

I keep getting a request to authenticate a connection to SharePoint whenever I open Outlook. What’s going on?
You’ve got connections to a SharePoint server setup. Manage your connections in the Connection Manager: File -> Data File Management, tab to SharePoint Lists.

Someone else has put me on an Alert list, but I can’t access the site to turn it off.
You must go to the location of an Alert to delete it, even if it’s on someone else’s site. You’ll have to contact the person to get access to the site since they don’t have a way to access the Alerts for you.
Note: Alert management is really lame in SharePoint 2007… more to come in a later post.

I’ve got a simple approval process and don’t really need a complex workflow. Is there an easy way to set this up?
Setup an approval based, sequential workflow with Alerts and views. Mike Ganotti demos this in a nice, ten minute screencast on his site.

The "Title" column isn’t needed in a lot of the Custom lists I’m making, but I can’t delete it. What can I do?
Create a list in Excel and import it as a list. No title column will be created.

I’ve setup a recurring meeting and now I need to turn it off.
Go to the item in question, choose Edit this Item and uncheck the Recurrence checkbox.

Anonymous surveys are great, but how can I set it so that only I can see the results of the survey?
Hide the results  of a survey by going to the survey, choose Settings -> Survey Settings, Advanced Settings and set Read Access to Only their own.

My profile image is distorted. It looks like I’m in a carnival mirror. Is there anything I can do?
Size the profile images to 200 x 200.

When I go to open a site, the authorization screen doesn’t come up and I can’t log in. What is going on?
The Authorization screen sometimes hides behind open Windows if you move away too soon. Look behind the open Windows.

I’ve looked on my harddrive but I can’t find the library files I’ve linked up to in Outlook. Where are they?
That’s because they aren’t stored as files until you make a change. They will appear under My Documents -> SharePoint Drafts when you’ve worked on them.

When I import an Excel spreadsheet into a list in SharePoint, I get this error: IOWSPostData Failed.
This is an issue with Excel. Here’s a link on how to fix it.

Universal End User Issues of Any SharePoint Implementation

When I was delivering the SharePoint 2007 - The Basics Workshop yesterday in Neuchatel, I took the time to jot down a couple of things that come up in every End User workshop. Here’s the short list:

  • User resistance to change
  • Folders vs Views
  • Legacy data, file servers and moving content
  • Clunky interface in SharePoint (that’s a polite way of saying it)
  • Access permissions

These are universal issues that will have to be addressed with every significant implementation of SharePoint. I’m going to take some time in the next couple of days to address each issue. If you’d like to jump in before hand and comment on any of these, I’d appreciate it. Also, if you see recurring issues with your End Users, comment on those and we’ll work on getting you some ammunition when addressing these problems.

How can I see multiple calendars in a single view?

Today’s question comes from Felice in San Francisco: " I am just about to begin implementation of a team ‘out of office’ calendar and a team ‘release calendar’ on SharePoint so that Product Managers can merge these extraneous events with their own personal Outlook calendars on demand.  I (of course) cannot find my notes from your class where you went over this in some detail so I am wondering if you can point me to some documentation that talks about calendaring."

Criteria to use when deciding to create a new library

Janis Hall from MindSharp has written a thoughtful post for the Get the Point Blog on the criteria to use when deciding to create a new library. While not comprehensive, it touches on major issues to consider when deciding how to structure your data. Key points:

  • Efficiency of Access to the Data (metadata)
  • Save Time and Effort (workflows)
  • A Need to see What Once Was (versioning)
  • Working in Draft (document visibility)
  • Tracking (audit trails)
  • Cleaning House (automated expiration)
  • Do you See What I See? (permissions)
  • Time Sensitivity (alerts)

Clear and concise… just the way I like it. Visitor Locations according to Feedburner

It’s that time of the week again. At 9:00am EST, I checked the feedburner stats to see how things went over the weekend. The results showed that almost the entire visiting population was from outside the United States. Below is a screenshot of the Feedburner cloud. 

I’m flying to Switzerland to teach for the next two weeks, so I hope to see some of the users there. Anyone know of a SharePoint Users Group in the Neuchâtel, Switzerland area?

Available for Download: SharePoint Flash Media Library Template

In a previous post on how to embed a video in SharePoint, I mentioned a Flash Media Library template I had configured for working with the screencasts created in Camtasia Studio. I have had several requests for that template, so I am providing it as a free download with this post.

You will need to install the template in your List Templates library in order to make it available to your sites. The screencast below is a very quick walk-through of the template. Please feel free to pass the template around to anyone who needs it.


(Insert Screencast)