It doesn’t matter for what you are using SharePoint if you want to upload and manage documents. There is always the same question: What is the best way to put my documents into a library? Shall i use folders with nested folders, shall i use columns with metadata, keywords or categories or what should i use?
Well, eveybody will tell you the same: “that depends on…” and i will tell you the same. It depends on what you want to achieve and what you are used to use.
Let’s make it more clear. You have to decide what has to be done. You can use folders because your team is familiar with that or you use metadata or document sets and maybe you have to help you team to understand. Does it make sense to you if you are using folders and nested folders with SharePoint? It would be easier to use a normal file system, right?
Options without using folders
If you do not want to use folders you have several possibilities to organize your documents well in a SharePoint document library:
- Content types
- custom columns
- document sets
Content types could be used to classify documents. They can be used with hierarchy and special types of content -> more information.
Keywords are newly implemented in SharePoint 2010. With term set they can be managed globally as well as on site collection level. If you like to dive deeper look at this msdn article.
Another option is using custom columns. You create custom columns in your document library as choice field or lookup field and fill it up with terms or keywords you like. You can use as much custom columns as you need.
Another new feature in SharePoint 2010 is the document set which you can use for classifying a bunch of documents. But this is not the same as folders. You cannot have sub-document sets, you only can have documents inside of document sets. They are nice if you want to use the same metadata or classification for a certain amount of documents and want to start workflows on all documents of one document set. Details are here.
Blended document organization
What the hell does that mean? Well, if some people / users like to organize their documents in folders and subfolders, why should they not be able to do so? In SharePoint you can upload your document into a special folder. You classify your document and you are done. Now, you offer two views on this library. One view which displays all documents without folders but only the metadata / classification and one view which displays the folders and the metadata / classification.
In this situation you can satisfy both of your user groups: the one who likes folder structures and the one who likes it not.
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He is Consultant for SharePoint Solutions for collaboration, communication and business processes. He provides his customers applications based on standard features as well as development or combining the power of several microsoft tools like Dynamics CRM. In his free time he tries to collect tipps and worthy experience in this blog.