Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
A SharePoint site has a number of different kinds of pages. There are pages intended to be seen
when a person first logs into the site (the home page, usually), pages to hold settings (such as
Site Permissions), pages that hold lists of links to settings pages (such as Site Settings), pages
to display the contents of something administrative (such as the Recycle Bin or the Themes
Gallery), and pages for list and library content.
List and library content is displayed on content, or view , pages. A list or library can have more
than one view page, because there may be more than one way the data needs to be displayed.
These pages are designed specifically for viewing and managing lists. Lists and libraries are
often differentiated from each other in common SharePoint parlance, but frankly they are
fundamentally the same thing. A list is essentially a table of data stored in the content database.
This table has rows and columns. Each row is a record, and each column is a field. Because lists
are made up of columns and rows, it’s easy for Microsoft to integrate them with Excel (as well as
Access), making it easy to create a list from a spreadsheet or export an existing list to a
spreadsheet. Of course, you need to have Microsoft Excel for this; no other spreadsheet program is
compatible to my knowledge.
Every list has fields for keeping track of who created a record, whether that record was modified,
when it was modified, and by whom. Because of this, you can track changes in a record, making it
possible to trigger alerts when changes are made. You can trigger an alert based on whether
anything changes in a list or whether an item you created or modified was changed. Further, because
SharePoint knows when a new record was created or modified in a list, it’s pretty easy to do RSS
feeds from there. As a result, lists are capable of doing alert and RSS feed actions.
In addition to being able to do alerts and RSS feed actions, lists and libraries have
additional functions that can be enabled to further extend their usefulness. These capabilities are
configured in the Settings page for a list or library and include things such as folders, content
approval, versioning, or allowing attachments.
Lists are made unique by their intent. When you create an Announcements list, for example,
it’s for specific announcement-related things, such as meetings or events. As a result, its records
(generically referred to as list items ) generally contain fields useful to recording announcements,
such as the announcement title, a description, and an expiration field to stop displaying when
the event has passed.
Libraries , on the other hand, are lists that are intended to focus on the management of
particular kinds of files (for example, document libraries manage document files, specifically
Microsoft Word documents by default). This means that their records include a field meant to
contain a file. That file’s file type and name are considered the focus of the record, and those
fields are the first two generally displayed. Activities in a library are specific to what you might
do to add, edit, or manage a document that might be stored in a record there. In other words,
even libraries are lists. Lists can vary because they are intended to be used for different reasons.
Generally, they share the same content page layout, most of the tools, and other features of the
interface. But they do have their differences, depending on what they were meant to be used for.
This becomes somewhat important because the actions (and ribbon bars) available per list vary
depending on that list’s intent.
For example, an Announcements list and a document library should be used for different
reasons and in different ways. Therefore, the interface for these two kinds of lists should differ
to some degree, despite the standard content page interface. To see what I mean, let’s open an
Announcements list and then open the Shared Documents library to see what differences there
are. This will familiarize you with both the content page interfaces and how they may vary.