Thursday, November 13, 2008

Locating documents with SharePoint

Now let’s say that you’ve heard great things about my SMBNation presentation (naturally). You also know that I have created a document on the presentation that you’d like to download. You know that it is somewhere on my Internet SharePoint site ( but you aren’t exactly sure where. How do you go about locating it?


First step is to go to the document library on since that is the obvious location for documents. To do this simply click on the Documents link on the left hand side menu under the Documents heading (just below Site FAQs):




When you arrive at the document library you will see a screen full of documents like so:




Now, you could scroll down the list of documents to see whether you can find it, however the list is sorted by document name which you don’t know. What you may suspect is that the document is large, so if you sorted the list by file size it may be at the top. How would you do this? Simply click on the File Size column header like so to reveal the sort menu for that column as shown here:




At the top of the menu you see an option that says Descending. If you select this the list will be reordered with the document of the largest size at the top of the list:




Unfortunately, you still can’t see the document you’re after. If you now click on the column header Technology, which is just to the right of File Size to display the sort menu for that column you see the following list:




In the list that appears you will find an entry called SharePoint. If you select this option, any document in the list that hasn’t been tagged with SharePoint will not appear. Using this option you are able to filter the display of the data based on the value in a column. You should now see:




The desired document is now at the top of the list and you can click on it to download. Where did the field Technology come from? It was an additional field that I added to this document library in SharePoint for exactly this reason, to assist in document location. This is what is known as ‘meta data’. With some simple additional information I am able to capture more about what is entered into SharePoint which can then be used for a variety of tasks.


If you need to use this type of location method with SharePoint a lot then you can create what is known as list views to display the data exactly the way you have just filtered it but without having to repeat the whole process. This needs to be performed by a SharePoint administrator so I’ll cover that in a later post.


Now, there is of course a simpler way to locate the document based on the fact you know it was an SMBNation presentation. Simply go to the document library and enter the word SMBNation into the search box at the top right of the screen like so and click the search:




and the results should appear like;




and as you can see the required document is at the top of the list.


So in summary, I hope that you can see that it is easy with SharePoint to locate a document by using the inbuilt sort and filtering capability. Even easier is the fact that SharePoint is able to index all content stored inside it.