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In SharePoint 2007, you could create content types to better define the type of content coming through your SharePoint sites. You didn't have generic documents. You had resumes, or contracts, or specifications. Sure, they're still documents, but they're wrapped up with formal metadata, extra information about their status, or the date received, or the handling instructions. And while content types are still very important to SharePoint 2010, they go even deeper with document sets. Here is the idea of a document set. That often you create or work with multiple documents at the same time and this is a repeated event.
If you're developing software products, you might have functional specs in Word, project plans in Excel, user interface mockups in Photoshop files. If you're creating multiple business plans, you might always have a presentation in PowerPoint, first-year projections in Excel, a nondisclosure agreement in Word. If your business opens new locations, you could have multiple documents with market projections, competition analysis, maps, design documents, blueprints, and contracts. With a document set in SharePoint 2010, you can formalize things.
You can create a business plan document set with all the documents contained in it, or a software product document set, or a new location document set. You can even have default templates for all of the individual documents, so when you make a new one, everything is automatically there. Now, sure, you could keep track of these informally in your own head the way you've always done, but SharePoint has always been about formalizing where possible, so you don't have to think about it any more than necessary. So how do you make one of these? Well, one, you have to turn it on.
Document sets are actually a feature in SharePoint that needs to be activated. Step two, you define your document set, and they are content types. So they're defined in your Content Type Gallery. You need two things. What documents are allowed or required in the document set, and what metadata, what extra information needs to be stored with each occurrence of the document set. Once it's defined, you can attach this document set to a library and then use it. You can then create a document set. In a moment, we'll see exactly how.
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