Creating custom Lists in Groove workspaces


In SharePoint Workspace, you can create Groove workspaces to be shared among invited members. Groove workspaces can include a variety of productivity tools. To see the list of tools that ship with SharePoint Workspace, look in the Tools group, and on the Workspace tab, click Add.

By default, every new workspace you create contains the Documents, Discussion, and Calendar tools. You can add several other types of ready-to-use tools such as Notepad, Sketchpad, and Pictures. All of these tools provide a specific set of built-in features and are intended to be used “as is”.

The Lists tool, unlike the other standard workspace tools, provides an open-ended custom tool development environment. The design of a Lists tool must include at least one data-entry form, and at least one “view” for sorting items created using the form. Forms in a Lists tool are created and updated in Microsoft Office InfoPath, and then imported into the Lists tool. Views are designed with the Lists tool designer after forms are imported.

This article describes how to build a simple custom Lists tool in a Groove workspace.

Example: Create the “Commuter Survey” Lists tool

Creating a Lists tool requires some planning. It’s important to consider the following questions:

· What information do you want to collect? It’s best to sketch out the form before you start designing it so that you know what data fields you’ll need, and approximately how you’ll want to lay them out.

· How should you sort the items in the list so that they’re easy to view, understand, and analyze? Answering this question will help you determine what views you’ll need, and what features to set up in the view. For example, should items be sorted in ascending or descending order, or perhaps grouped under headings? Should items be filtered according to one or more conditions? Is there numeric data to be totaled under a column?

In this article we’ll create a simple custom Lists tool for the purpose of conducting a survey. As such, it will contain a survey form template, and a view that shows data items that workspace members create. We’ll show how to create the form template in InfoPath, import it, lay out a view, and then publish the design. Finally, we’ll show how to further customize the design of the Lists tool once it’s already been saved and published.

Add the Lists tool to a workspace

To add a Lists tool to a workspace:

1. Click the Workspace tab.

2. In the Tools group, click Add, and then click Lists.

A new Lists tool appears with a Welcome page and “Start Here” button.

Add a form to the design via Microsoft InfoPath

To enter the designer, click Start Here. Once you’re in the designer, you create a new form as follows:

1. On the Home tab, in the Create group, click New Form.
Microsoft InfoPath launches and a blank form template appears.

2. Design the form as you’d like it to appear in the InfoPath form designer. For example:
Note that the form template is pre-loaded with a standard set of System fields, such as “Created by” and Modified by” fields. You can immediately drag these fields to the form, if desired. In addition to System fields, the form template is pre-configured with all settings that the Lists tool requires to function properly in SharePoint Workspace, such as settings for data connections, security, and lookups. If you create form templates in InfoPath without starting from the Lists tool designer, you will need to configure these settings manually in InfoPath. For more information, see Creating a new form in SharePoint Workspace online help.

3. Once the form is set up as desired, you must save it as an InfoPath form template solution (.xsn) as follows: Click the File tab, click Publish, and then click the SharePoint Workspace button.

4. Name the form in the Save As dialog box and click OK.
You can choose any location for saving the form. However, by using the “Publish” feature, the form is saved to the location that will appear by default when you import the form later – your Documents folder.

5. Return to the Lists tool designer.

6. On the Home tab, in the Create group, click Import Form.

7. Select the InfoPath .xsn file you previously saved, and click Open.
The new form is listed under Form Templates. A view that corresponds to the new form is also automatically added to the design.

Examine and update the view design

Do the following to examine and update the view:

1. Click the view name.
You can then select tabs that show options for “about” information, properties, filters, column settings, and sorts.

2. On the About tab, you can change the name of the view as it will appear on the List view menu in the ribbon.
You might change the view name if you want it to reflect certain features you’ve set up for the view. For example, if you’re planning to sort view items according to a specific field, you might rename the view to reflect that.

3. On the Properties tab, you can set options that affect the appearance of the view, as well as enable or disable access to certain features. For details on setting properties, see Setting list view properties in online help.

4. On the Filter tab, you can set conditions for including or excluding data items that appear in the view. For details, see Creating view filters in a Lists tool design in online help.

5. Click the Columns tab to see the fields selected for the view, properties of each field column, and a preview of the view.
Initially, all fields you placed on the form in InfoPath, except for Rich Text fields, are preselected.

6. If you want, select each field and update associated column properties.
In particular, you will likely want to update each field column’s “Header Label”. The initial header label matches the field name which is typically too cryptic to be easily understood. In the example below, the column label for the “CreateBy” field is renamed “Employee”, and the new column label is reflected in the Preview.
For complete details on updated view columns, see Modifying view column properties in online help.

7. On the Sort and Group tab, you can set options for how items are sorted in the view.
By default, items are listed in the order in which they’re created. You can optionally choose to sort items in a wide variety of ways, such as in ascending or descending order, or grouped by values in a specific field column. For details, see Setting sort options in a list view in online help.

Update Settings and Options, as needed

Click Settings and Options to see a variety of settings and options that affect the entire Lists tool. Most options involve enabling or disabling features such as search or changing views. Default settings are typically appropriate from most Lists tool. For more information, see About Settings and Options in a Lists tool in online help.

Save & Publish the Lists tool

When you’re done updating the Lists tool design, click Save & Publish. The customized Lists tool appears in the window ready for workspace members to start creating items.

Update the Lists tool design after publishing

Designing a custom Lists tool is an iterative process. Despite the best possible up-front planning you might do, you’re very likely to discover features you want to add or change after saving and publishing the design. For example, you might want to add additional form fields, create new views, update how a view is sorted, and so on.

You can enter the Lists tool designer at any time to update the Lists tool design. On the View tab, click Enter Designer.

Updating the design of a form

Any updates to form templates must take place in InfoPath:

1. In the Lists tool, open the designer.

2. Click the form template you want to update.

3. On the Home tab, click Edit.
The selected form template opens in InfoPath.

4. Make the design updates you want.
The example below shows the Commuter Survey form with a new field added to the design.

8. Save the form just as you did when first creating the form: Click the File tab, click Publish, and then click the SharePoint Workspace button.
Keep the same form template name when saving. Click Yes to confirm overwriting the original form, when prompted.

9. Return to the Lists tool designer.

10. On the Home tab, in the Edit group, click Re-Import.
NOTE If you accidentally select Import Form instead of Re-Import, a new form template and a corresponding view will be created in the Lists tool design. If you did not intend to add a new form template and view to the design, you can delete them and then proceed to re-import the updated form template.

11. Find the form template .xsn file you previously updated and saved, and click Open.
A Field Changes dialog box opens that summarizes the updates you’ve made to fields in the form template. The example below shows that a new field named “WorkAtHome” has been added, and denotes that this field is not yet referenced in any views.

12. Click Continue.
The Form Templates preview now shows the new field.

13. If you want the new field to be referenced in a list view, you must add it to the list view design, on the Columns tab, for example:

14. When you’re done updating the Lists tool design, click Save & Publish.

For more information on creating custom Lists tools in SharePoint Workspace, start with Creating a custom Lists tool by importing InfoPath form template solutions in online help.


Joe Levine

Comments (2)

  1. Michael says:

    It should be noted that this only applies to Groove 2010 level workspaces.  I do not see how you can add a List tool to a Groove 2007 Workspace.

  2. I would be interested on how to import/export list data to a format other than "gax" (seems to be an internal semi-binary format), like CSV or Excel. As far as I have learned, it seems only possible to copy single items and paste them as an XML-document. This obvisiously doesn't make sense  for may list items.

Skip to main content