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SharePoint Workspace 2010 is a new application, but not quite as new as you might think. In previous versions of Microsoft Office, this product was called Groove. Now renamed as SharePoint Workspace 2010, you can use it to create off-line copies of your SharePoint content. One of the few downsides of uploading all our content into SharePoint is that if we do have to be disconnected from our network, perhaps we are leaving for a conference, we're taking a laptop and going on a long business trip, it's more problematic to get hold of the documents that we want to work on while we are on the trip.
Well, with SharePoint Workspace, you can either synchronize an entire site by using your Site Actions menu, Sync to SharePoint Workspace ,or an individual library. If I'm in my Document Library here, I can go to my Library Ribbon and select the option to Sync to SharePoint Workspace. This asks me if I'm sure and I say yes, I'm sure. I do have extra configuration options if I want to synchronize anything else. But when I select that it will actually create an off-line copy and download all these documents to my local machine.
If this was a laptop I could now disconnect from the network, close the web browser down, and walk away. I'd still have access to those documents, but I'd get to them through SharePoint Workspace itself. If I open up SharePoint Workspace, it will tell me the different libraries or sites that I'm synchronized with. In this case there's only one. Double-clicking it will tell me that this is the Shared Documents library that I'd created an off-line version of, and that I can now select any of these and open them up and start editing them.
Because SharePoint Workspace does a really good job of detecting whether we're connected to the network or not, it's also telling me right now that available on the server are all the other lists and libraries on that particular web site. The benefit of SharePoint Workspace doing this great job of detecting connectivity is that when you're attached to your network, update is automatic. And you don't really have to think about the changes that you're making to your documents because SharePoint Workspace is going to take care of the synchronization for you.
In fact, there was a small message down at the lower end here that it was synchronizing that document with the web site itself. While the classic example of a SharePoint Workspace user is someone who perhaps has this on their laptop, they synchronize a library or two, they disconnect, they walk away, make some changes, and synchronize them again when they connect back to the network, you might also find it useful on your own desktop. One of the benefits of having all these off-line copies is that your Windows machine is going to index them for you.
So if you make a lot of use of the internal Windows search capabilities, I could actually start typing something like hiring and one of the first results I'll get is a Hiring Procedures document in my Microsoft SharePoint Workspace. And certainly if you're working with hundreds of documents, you might find this a very useful way to get to the results that you're looking for. Now if you do know that you're going to be doing significant changes, you may want to be aware of what the settings are on the library. Do you require documents to be checked out? Do you have versioning on and that kind of thing? But once all those are set, it's a very useful way of having an easy synchronized off-line copy of all your content.
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