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Monday, June 1, 2009

Leveraging the use of Site Columns – Part II

In the previous blog posting we explored how to use Site Columns to propagate data throughout a Site Collection. Now it is time to take it a step further, this time instead of saving the data within the Site Column we will reference the data stored in a SharePoint List named Company Departments. We will quickly create the SharePoint List, populate it and create the Site Column referencing the SharePoint List.


  • Let's create the SharePoint List:
    • Click on the List Links on the left hand Navigation Bar
    • Click the Create Link on the Menu Bar
    • Click the Custom List from the Custom Lists Group
    • Set the Name to Company Departments
    • Select the Yes Radio Button choice from the Display this list on the Quick Launch?
    • Click the Create Button
  • Populate the Company Departments SharePoint List:
    • Click the New Link on the Menu Bar
    • Set the Title Textbox to: Finances
    • Click OK Button
    • Click the New Link on the Menu Bar
    • Set the Title Textbox to: Human Resources
    • Click OK Button
  • With our SharePoint List created we must create a Site Column that references the newly created Company Departments SharePoint List
    • Click on the Site Actions link on your site
    • Click on the Site Settings option
    • Click the Site columns link in the Galleries Group
    • Click the Create Link
    • Set the Column name to List Based Company Departments
    • Set the Type to Lookup (information already on this site)
    • Either choose Custom Columns from the Existing Group Drop Down or set the name for the New group, for this example we will use the Company Wide group name
    • Decide if it is Required that this column contains information, it is recommended to set it to Yes

    • Select from the Get information from: DropDown the Company Departments SharePoint List
    • Select the Title (linked to item) choice from the In this column: DropDown
    • Click OK Button

We are ready to put the List Based Company Departments Site Column in action! To use the newly created Site Column we will create a SharePoint List named Employees and a required Column named Company Departments that will use the Site Column by clicking on the Add from existing site columns link as shown below:

From Doug Ortiz's Blog

The next screen will be the following:

From Doug Ortiz's Blog

  • Select the Company Wide group or the name you assigned to the Site Column from the Select site columns from: Drop Down
  • The List Based Company Departments Site Column will be display in the Available site columns ListBox
  • Click the Add Button
  • Click OK Button

You are right ahead of me, our next steps involve testing that our Site Column works properly. For this purpose we will attempt to create a new Employee:

From Doug Ortiz's Blog

As expected, the Finances and Human Resources Departments are listed in the DropDown. Go ahead and add the Information Technology Department to the Company Departments SharePoint List created previously and proceed to create a new Employee again. As you can see below, the newly item is displayed in the DropDown.

From Doug Ortiz's Blog

Comparing both methods of Site Columns Creation

While both methods accomplishes the same, there is a major difference between them:

The previous method requires either a SharePoint Administrator(s) or a User(s) with enough permissions to update the Site Column every time that an update is required.

The current method enables the SharePoint Administrator(s) to assign permissions to User(s) that can maintain those SharePoint List(s).

Depending on the amount of updates that are required, the first method could become problematic in environments in which a single person is the SharePoint Administrator along with other responsibilities that have been assigned to that position.

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