Review: Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010

By Mike Heck, Network World |  Software, document management

I particularly liked the way Web Parts (components that display particular types of information) are now better organized and appear at the top of a page when editing. Simply pick a category, such as Media and Content, and select the Web Part you want to insert into the page.

SharePoint 2007 required detailed knowledge of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to change the look of sites. Now, authorized users can update themes to match your brand - without any programming. I started with one of the many pre-made color and type combinations, and within a few minutes had customized the theme by specifying individual fonts and color hues.

Yet customization goes far beyond look and feel. SharePoint 2010 lets you target any list item, not just complete lists of information. It works like this: First, you create a catalog of rules, groups or memberships. Next, you can define that most any item within the site - from Web Parts to individual documents - will only appear to one of those defined audiences.

In a real-world example, I uploaded human resources documents and placed a Web Part on my home page to display the files, targeting the Web Part to the HR staff; the documents only appeared when members of the HR group visited the site. You could do the same with specialized material for employees in sales, R&D, or any other department.

One of the biggest obstacles I've found in organizing information within sites - whether documents, multimedia or pages - is getting users to consistently apply metadata. SharePoint 2010 has a smart solution with Term Store Management. To start this exercise, I imported a comma-separated variable (CSV) list of cities and countries where my company had offices into a SharePoint document library.

After a few more steps (which I think could be reduced), that list appeared in the properties dialog whenever I edited a document. This capability helps you created standard taxonomies. Further, users can now filter document lists based on the metadata. For instance, a document library would now show a control where you could display just those documents that were tagged 'New York.'

I also tried several more of the document management improvements. The Content Organizer let me create rules that saved documents in the correct Document Library based on the type of file and its metadata properties. For instance, a PowerPoint show tagged with the UK might be saved in a document library you created for the EMEA region.

Since each library can have specific retention and other policies, this turns SharePoint 2010 into a very capable document and records management system for regulated industries or government agencies. Moreover, Document Sets helped me group related documents together, which is great for simplifying workflows and versioning,

Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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