In my last post on SharePoint architecture, I mentioned that there are few parts in SharePoint architecture: farms, web applications, site collections, service applications, administration and security. User interface is represented by site collections. In my today's post, I am going to describe SharePoint user interface.
Site collection is the top-level SharePoint site which contains children sites which are organized in a hierarchy. When you create a site at the root of a Web Application, you create a site collection. In other words, a SharePoint site collection is a hierarchical set of sites that can be managed together. Sites within a site collection have common features, such as shared permissions, galleries for templates, content types, and web parts, and they often share a common navigation. Creation of site collections usually performed by a system administrator.
Site collection has hierarchical structure. When a site collection has been created, next step is to create a site. A site is a single SharePoint site within a site collection. Creation of sites can be delegated to users of a site collection. A site can inherit permissions and navigation structure from its parent site collection, or they can be specified and managed independently.
There are times when it is appropriate to create an entire site collection, and there are times when it makes more sense to create a single site. For instance, if you have many projects that fit within a larger context, it makes sense to create a single site collection for that context, and create sites to manage each project. For example, it makes sense for the engineering department to have a separate site collection from the legal department. An engineering department might have one site collection and use that site collection to house multiple sites, one site per engineering project.
A site may contain sub-sites, and those sub-sites may contain further sub-sites. Typically, sites need to be created from scratch, but sites can also be created according to pre-defined templates that provide previously set-up functionality. Sites have navigation, themes/branding, custom permissions, workflows, and have the ability to be configured or customized in a number of ways.
If the site is used for the document management, next step after the site in the SharePoint hierarchy are libraries and lists. A SharePoint Site is a collection of lists, libraries, pages, and web parts.
A list is a collection of similar items. A list contains columns that define the item metadata. Each item stored in a list shares the same metadata. For instance, you can have a list of links called "my links", where each item has a URL, a name, and a description.
Lists resemble database tables in structure and behavior. Lists support various field or data types, and can have triggers that react to list events such as creating, updating or deleting items. In addition lists can be configured to filter, sort or group items based on item data or properties.
Lists can be based on list templates, such as calendars, contact lists, tasks, announcements. You can create multiple lists based on a single list template. Lists can include workflows.
A library contains documents. In a library a document is the item with library metadata supporting the document. Each item in the library refers to a file that is stored in SharePoint database. A library is a location on a site where you can create, collect, update, and manage files.
You can customize libraries in several ways. You can control how documents are viewed, tracked, managed, and created. You can track versions, including how many and which type of versions, and you can limit who can see documents before they are approved. You can use workflows to collaborate on documents in libraries. You can specify information management policies to manage the handling and expiration of documents within libraries.
There are few types of libraries:
Document library is used for all types of documents.
Picture library is used to store digital pictures or graphics. Although pictures can be stored in other types of libraries, picture libraries have several advantages. For example, from a picture library you can view pictures in a slide show, download pictures to your computer, and edit pictures with graphics programs. Consider creating a picture library if your team reuses many graphics, such as logos and corporate images, or if you want to store pictures of team events or product launches.
Wiki page library is used create a collection of connected wiki pages. A wiki enables multiple people to gather routine information in a format that is easy to create and modify. You can add to your library wiki pages that contain pictures, tables, hyperlinks, and internal links. For example, if your team creates a wiki site for a project, the site can store tips and tricks in a series of pages that connect to each other.
Form library is used to store and manage electronic forms.
Reports library helps organizations create, manage, and share information contained in business data web parts, key performance indicator (KPI) web parts, and Excel web access web parts used for business intelligence analytics. The Records Center site template has a reports library by default, but anyone who can create document libraries within a site collection can create a report library. The reports library includes a version history for each report, and archives previous versions. Users can create new versions of reports for special events or milestones, and later revert to a previous report.
Translation management library - helps organizations create, store, and manage translated documents by providing both views and specific features that facilitate the manual document translation process. The translation management library is designed specifically to store documents and their translations. The library tracks the relationship between a source document and its translations, and it groups all of these documents together to make them easy to find. Additionally, the library can be configured with a special translation management workflow that is designed to help manage the manual document translation process.
Data connection library is used to centrally publish connection files to make it easy for users to find and use the data sources they need. Data connection files are easy to create and update, and solution designers can easily reuse them from within the Microsoft Office system client applications.
Slide library is used to share individual slides from a presentation, reuse slides, track the history of a slide, compile individual slides into a presentation, and receive notifications when a slide in a presentation has changed. Users can publish slides to a Slide Library from PowerPoint.
SharePoint has three primary page content-types: Wiki pages, Web-part pages, and Publishing Pages. The default page type is a Wiki Page, which enables free-form editing based on the ribbon toolbar. It is possible to insert Web-parts into any page type.
Web parts are sections that can be inserted into Pages in SharePoint sites. Their typical uses are displaying content defined in the web-part's settings, displaying items from lists and libraries, providing access to features in the SharePoint.
SharePoint site can also be created as Wiki site, blog site, project management site, etc. I described Wiki sites in one of my previous posts on SharePoint, In my future posts, I will describe other site types.