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Developing with Document Management Features in SharePoint Server 2010 (ECM)

Learn about SharePoint Server 2010 document sets, the content organizer, location-based metadata defaults, metadata navigation and filtering, and document IDs.

Applies to: SharePoint Server 2010

In this article
Review: Document Management in SharePoint Server 2007
User Roles, Goals, and Features for Document Management
Three Goals of Document Management in SharePoint
Introducing SharePoint Document Management Features
Updates to the SharePoint Document Center Site Template
Common Uses for the SharePoint Document Center
Document Sets in SharePoint
Content Organizer in SharePoint
Location-Based Metadata Defaults in SharePoint
Example: Helping Users Organize a Large Library
Metadata Navigation and Filtering
Document IDs in SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 builds on the document management capabilities delivered in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 by extending features and providing new features. These extended and new features are designed to support an organization's ability to manage documents and a user's ability to interact with individual documents and groups of documents. Common considerations such as information access and content creation are supported, as are more complicated factors such as compliance, collaboration, scaling the size of document repositories, and branding.

After first summarizing key aspects of document management in SharePoint Server 2010, this topic introduces the following new and revised features:

  • Document Sets

  • Content Organizer

  • Location-Based Metadata Defaults

  • Metadata Navigation and Filtering

  • Document IDs

Review: Document Management in SharePoint Server 2007

Office SharePoint Server 2007 introduced several document management features that are the foundation of the enhancements introduced in SharePoint Server 2010, including:

  • Recycle Bin. Items stored in a document library can be moved to the Recycle Bin and then deleted.

  • Check in and check out. Items stored in a document library can be checked out and checked in by individual users.

  • Major and minor versioning. Items stored in a Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 or Office SharePoint Server 2007 document library can have major or minor versions, and each version is stored separately in the document library.

  • Item-level permissions. Office SharePoint Server 2007 supports setting and modifying permissions at the level of the individual item.

  • Content types. The Document Center and document library features support content types similar to those introduced with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.

  • Policy. You can set policy on documents at the level of the individual content type. For example, if you have a content type called "Documents" you can set the policy for all items of that content type.

  • Workflow. Document management features support workflow functionality provided by Windows Workflow Foundation.

  • Document Center site template. Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes a site template for Document Centers that is provisioned with default settings, or you can customize it to meet specific needs.

Additionally, records management features in Office SharePoint Server 2007 included the Records Center, which provided document routing services based on the content type of individual documents. The Content Organizer is the next-generation version of the Records Center, and provides a metadata-driven routing service that supports a wide range of document management and records management scenarios.

All of these features are available in SharePoint Server 2010, and, with the exception of the new Content Organizer, remain largely unchanged in the new version.

User Roles, Goals, and Features for Document Management

The document management features in SharePoint Server 2010 were designed around three user roles. This section explains the three user roles and introduces five new features and one revised feature that are designed to support the new user roles and a wide range of document management scenarios.

The document management features assume that three types of users interact with documents: the visitor, the contributor, and the content steward.

Table 1. User roles for document management

User Role



An individual who navigates to the Document Center and interacts with documents by viewing, sorting, searching, or reading documents.


An individual who is responsible for performing one or more of the following actions:

  • Navigating to the home page and seeing a list of relevant documents or document sets that were last modified, created, or checked out by the contributor

  • Navigating to the home page and seeing a list of workflow tasks assigned to the contributor and acting on them, if needed

  • Navigating to the home page and submitting a new document or document set to the Document Center

  • Navigating to the document library, choosing a location, and creating or uploading a new document or document set

Content Steward

An individual who owns or maintains a document repository, and who is responsible for configuring, customizing, and creating site features, which may include:

  • Creating views, including views of documents on the home page that are specific to the domain.

  • Configuring content types and associated templates.

  • Configuring "metadata navigation and filtering".

  • Customizing default workflows and associating them with selected elements.

  • Configuring routing rules for larger, more managed repositories.

Three Goals of Document Management in SharePoint

The document management features in SharePoint Server 2010 work together to support three main goals:

  • Ease of Use. Visitors, contributors, and content stewards will find document management features to be easier to use, adaptable, easier to manage, fast to deploy, and highly capable by default. Document management features facilitate improved document creation and management.

  • Enterprise Readiness. Regardless of the document management scenario, the document management provides a high degree of performance at scale, rich feature depth, customizability, and extensibility. The document management features are infused with metadata and use metadata to drive document retrieval functionality.

  • Broad Participation. Everyone in the organization has access to, and can benefit from, document management features. You can adjust capabilities so that everyone can see just what they need.

Introducing SharePoint Document Management Features

SharePoint Server 2010 introduces five major document management features and significant enhancements to the Document Center site template that was included with Office SharePoint Server 2007. Together, these features support three key objectives of document management:

  • Facilitate improved document creation and management

  • Use metadata to power document management tasks and support document retrieval

  • Support big, fast, highly manageable and scalable document libraries

Each document management feature supports one or more of these goals.

Table 2. Document management features and goals



Create and Manage Documents

Metadata Infusion and Document Retrieval

Support Scale

Document Center



Document Sets



Content Organizer




Location-Based Metadata Defaults



Metadata-Driven Navigation




Document IDs



Updates to the SharePoint Document Center Site Template

The Document Center site template included in Office SharePoint Server 2007 has been updated in SharePoint Server 2010 to:

  • Support new features and capabilities.

  • Replace the Document Center site template included with Office SharePoint Server 2007.

  • Synchronize to accommodate and work well with the Records Center site template.

  • Act as a Getting Started template that highlights many of the new document management features.

  • Enable contributors to easily submit new documents to the Document Center immediately after it is provisioned.

Common Uses for the SharePoint Document Center

The Document Center is designed to be the starting point for document repositories of many purposes and sizes. It can support document repositories ranging from small collaborative spaces containing a few dozen to a few hundred documents, to larger collaborative repositories and large knowledge center sites that store several thousand to a few hundred thousand documents. A Document Center can grow into a larger repository of millions of items.

For advanced document management applications, such as a collaborative repository, the content steward can configure the site to meet the needs of the specific scenario and content domain. Content steward scenarios are the most important customization points for most document repository implementations.

Document Sets in SharePoint

SharePoint Server 2010 delivers a new object called a document set that manages work products that are made up of multiple documents. They are special types of folders used to manage work products. They provide a user interface (UI), metadata options, behaviors, and object model elements to help manage all aspects of a work product. 

Used throughout SharePoint Server 2010 features and services, Document Sets are designed to help users organize content in a more meaningful and useful way. They combine the behaviors of folder (SPFolder) objects and item (SPItem) objects to manage a work product. For example, to develop a custom Web Part, you gather business requirements, write a spec, create development and test plans, and create UI design prototypes. Although the custom Web Part is the tangible "master" deliverable item, all of the requirements—spec, developer and test plans, and UI design prototypes—are key parts of the deliverable. The tangible deliverable could not exist in its final form without the planning documents that are produced as part of the Web Part development process. You can use the Document Sets feature to manage those planning documents in association with the "master" deliverable item, all of which are integral parts of the work product.

Content Organizer in SharePoint

The Content Organizer is a way of managing document submissions to a site and routing them to the correct library and folder based on predefined routing rules. The feature builds upon the records routing framework that was first introduced in Office SharePoint Server 2007 and extends it beyond the Records Center and records management scenarios to more general document management scenarios and applications. For example, librarians who use the Dewey Decimal Classification system to determine how books are categorized use internal criteria to determine where books are stored physically. Similarly, in any other "managed content store" such as a document library on a SharePoint Server 2010 site, a content steward, librarian, or person in a similar role manages the containers and rules that govern which documents belong in each container. The content steward or librarian uses the Content Organizer to manage the containers and the rules that govern them.

Location-Based Metadata Defaults in SharePoint

SharePoint Server 2010 supports configuring default metadata for documents at the column level. This might be sufficient for small-sized to mid-sized document libraries, but the scope is too broad for large document libraries. Content stewards of large document libraries organize documents in a folder/location structure where the location of a document in the structure is what should drive the default metadata values on items. For example, in an organization with many teams, there may be a Team property associated with all of the organization's documents even though the associated team is already implied by the folder name. Location-based metadata defaults enable users to provide default metadata values for items, based on their location within the document library, rather than just at the column level.

All Enterprise Content Management (ECM) features in SharePoint Server 2010 emphasize the importance of metadata and managing large lists, and location-based metadata defaults make it easier for you to manage and apply metadata in document management scenarios—a powerful practice to use, especially as the number of documents in your document libraries grow in scale over time. Goals of location-based metadata defaults include:

  • Enabling content stewards to provide default "helper" metadata values for items, based on their location within a document library, for both documents and document sets.

  • Ensuring that content stewards can understand how the default metadata values that they have established at various locations in a folder hierarchy affects items.

  • Ensuring that when contributors or content stewards add items to a location (either through the server or a Microsoft Office 2010 client application), default values prepopulate the appropriate fields and contributors and content stewards are not required to know where the default value came from or how it got there.

Example: Helping Users Organize a Large Library

Suppose that Fabrikam is a large organization that manufactures several lines of "widget" products. They created a large document library that acts as a central repository for all of the engineering specification documents for their products. To ensure that the documents are easy for users and the company to find later, they configure several different content types in the document library where they store specifications, such as "Test Plan", "Specification", and so on. Each content type includes metadata fields such as Target Market and Product Release Date. The document authors and main contributors to the document library are the product engineering teams. To make it easier for them to use the document library, its folder hierarchy is organized by product. This way of organizing the hierarchy enables members of a product team to work in the folder for "their" product.

Knowing what folder a given document is in implies a lot about what metadata it should get. For example, if you add a document to the "Alpha" folder, then the Product Name property of the document is set to "Alpha Widget". Because the "Alpha Widget" is a type of widget that is focused on the enterprise, all of the documents added to the "Alpha" folder set the value of the Target Market field to "Enterprise".


This kind of smart metadata handling and inheritance is not possible when using Office SharePoint Server 2007. In Office SharePoint Server 2007, the default value for a field is set in the Field Definition. This means that if you want to use a field in multiple lists or content types, you can have only a single default value for that field, regardless of its location or content type. The most narrow scope at which a field definition exists is at the list level. You can work around these limitations by creating multiple fields and content types to get default values per location, but that approach does not work with metadata-driven navigation and view filtering.

Metadata Navigation and Filtering

Metadata navigation and filtering is an effective tool for navigating large lists of documents. The feature was designed to be the way to navigate the contents of large repositories in SharePoint Server 2010, which it accomplishes by:

  • Enabling multiple pivots on data. After the content steward or librarian classifies documents by tagging them, users can find and retrieve those documents based on their metadata values.

  • Ensuring that visitors, contributors, and content stewards are never blocked from seeing useful results after using metadata navigation and filtering to run a query.

  • Enabling content stewards to configure metadata navigation and filtering to perform well for the majority of libraries without having to explicitly create indices to support queries used to retrieve documents.

  • Assisting content stewards to specify additional indices that they can use to enhance performance over a wider range of queries.

  • Assisting users in refining queries to use compound indices to increase the relevance of results.

Document IDs in SharePoint

A document ID is a unique identifier for a document or document set and a static URL that opens the document or document set associated with the document ID, regardless of the location of the document. Document IDs provide:

  • A way to reference items such as documents and document sets in SharePoint Server 2010 that is less fragile than using URLs. URLs break if the location of the item changes. In place of the URL, the document ID feature creates a static URL for each content item with a document ID assigned to it.

  • More flexible support for moving documents or document sets at different points in the document life cycle. For example, if you create a document on a MySite or Workspace page and then publish it on a team site, the document ID persists and travels with the document, circumventing the broken URL problem.

  • A document ID generator that assigns a unique document ID to items. You can customize the format of the IDs that the service generates. By using the document management API, you can write and use custom document ID providers.

See Also


Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Development in SharePoint Server 2010

Document Management Programming Model in SharePoint Server 2010 (ECM)

Content Organizer Feature Overview for SharePoint Server 2010 Developers (ECM)

Document Sets in SharePoint Server 2010 (ECM)

Document IDs and the DocID Service in SharePoint Server 2010 (ECM)

Location-Based Metadata Defaults in SharePoint Server 2010 (ECM)

Metadata Navigation and Filtering in SharePoint Server 2010 (ECM)

Other Resources

Enterprise Document Content and Workflow

Enterprise Content Management Resource Center

SharePoint Developer Center

SharePoint Developer Team Blog