Organizing information and process is one of the most fundamental goals of Systems design, architecture and investment. The amount of money and time put into building new systems is returned by the gain in efficiency of doing business. In today's increasingly complex society these challenges can seem daunting, especially when it seems like the technology for accomplishing this is advancing more rapidly that our ability to use it. Windows SharePoint Services (WSS), part of the Windows Server 2003, gives us a great way to simplify how we organize and use the information we have to sift through every day. In today's webcast we look at how SharePoint's content types provide an effective way to manage this data.
A "Content Type" is a term for describing and categorizing a type of information or document that we're working with. An example is a vacation request or a timesheet or a status report. It can also be an article or a page of content on our web site describing an upcoming webcast. Simply put it is information that has structure. This structure can be defined and described as meta data and process built around the information.
There are 2 main ways that Content Types are used in SharePoint. One is for collaboration and the second for content management. From the collaborative standpoint, when we create documents or fill out a form or publish something we do it to share information with others. SharePoint makes this process easy by allowing us to run a workflow that defines what needs to happen.
The second use (publishing) allows us to define structure of a piece of information that we share through a web site. The components or parts of the information, also called fields, are defined and then the content type is attached to a page layout. Using SharePoint Designer we can organize how the information is captured and displayed online.
Some resources for Content types include:
- Andrew May's post "What are Content Types?"
- Windows SharePoint SDK 3.0 beta documentation on Content Types
- ECM (Enterprise Content Management Team) Blog – Building Content Types and Page Layouts
- Customizing the Document Information Panel