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Understanding lists

From: SharePoint 2010 Getting Started

Video: Understanding lists

So, you've seen a few of the most common SharePoint sites, and you probably realize that many of them seem to share the same pieces, including Calendars and Document Libraries and Task Lists. That's because you make SharePoint sites almost like putting together a bunch of wooden blocks. Some blocks represent Document Libraries, other ones represent Calendars, and other ones represent Task Lists. Put them together one way, you get a Team Site. Put them together another way, you get a document workspace, or a meeting workspace.

Understanding lists

So, you've seen a few of the most common SharePoint sites, and you probably realize that many of them seem to share the same pieces, including Calendars and Document Libraries and Task Lists. That's because you make SharePoint sites almost like putting together a bunch of wooden blocks. Some blocks represent Document Libraries, other ones represent Calendars, and other ones represent Task Lists. Put them together one way, you get a Team Site. Put them together another way, you get a document workspace, or a meeting workspace.

Once you learn the available lists and libraries, the available building blocks, you can make some very helpful sites as easy as putting a few blocks together. So, I'm looking at a blank SharePoint site here. On this site, I really haven't selected what lists and libraries that I'm interested in. When this blank site is actually created in SharePoint, you may occasionally see a couple of example lists and libraries created, depending on how your farm is configured. So, in this case, for example, I see that I have one Document Library called Customized Reports.

But I have no Picture Libraries, no Lists, no Discussion Boards, no Surveys, no Sites and Workspaces. These are the building blocks of SharePoint sites. This is what your sites are created around. So, what I could do with this site is say, well, I want to start building it out. I want to start adding things to this site. Most of what you do can be driven from the Site Actions menu. This being SharePoint, you'll find that there are multiple ways to get to the same place. If I'm on my old site Content window, I could also click the Create button.

But let's get used to using the Site Actions menu. I get an option here to make a new Document Library, an option to make a new site, or I see more options. Create other types of pages, lists, libraries and sites. Again, if you're coming from a conventional Web design background, you may be used to thinking of your sites as merely consisting of Web pages. It's not really the case in SharePoint. We're interested in our lists and our libraries. I'm going to maximize this window, and I'm seeing a Create window that pops up.

Now, I'm seeing a version that I only see if I have the Silverlight plug-in installed. If you didn't have Silverlight installed, you'd see a slightly different window when you hit that More Options buttons of your Site Actions menu. But what this is saying is here you can get the Libraries that you can create, such as Data Connection Libraries, Document Libraries, Form Libraries, and Picture Libraries, and then there's multiple lists that you can make: Announcements, Calendar, Contacts, Custom List, if you want to define your own.

SharePoint has several built-in predefined lists, but the idea is you'll often define your own, because Microsoft just don't know exactly what kind of data you want to keep track of. So they'll give you some generic things, keeping track of links, keeping track of tasks or surveys. But once you've explored the basic things, like the Contacts, the Calendar, and Announcements, if you need something more complex, you create a Custom List. Well, before we do that, let's just start off with something simple like a Contacts list.

I'm going to add a Contacts list to this blank site, and all it's going to say is select the list you want and give it a name. I'll call this Useful Contacts and click Create. By me adding a Contacts List to this site, it will generate the page to view this list, to add a new item to this list, to edit the list, to edit settings of the list, all done automatically. Now if it's your first glance at editing a list, it looks like the Ribbon's little bit intimidating here.

Know that your list exists really in two modes, the list itself and then the individual items inside the list, in this case, the list called Useful Contacts, and then the individual contacts I might add. The Ribbon is reflecting that. I have a section of the Ribbon called List, which allows me to change the settings of the list, change the permissions of the list. E-mail a link to the list. Then I have a section called Items, which would allow me to say, make a new item or edit an item if one already existed.

I'm going to click New Item. I don't even have to leave the page. It will pop up this window for me, have the Last Name Smith, First Name of John. The only things that are required are these things that have the red asterisk here. I'll give him an e-mail address and a business phone number, and click Save. With this one item in the list here, I can click anywhere in this row to select it. You see that the check box gets checked here. When this individual row is selected, certain other of the choices appear in my Ribbon.

If it's selected, I have the option to view it, to edit it, to change the permissions of it, to attach a file, or even say that I like it or put my own notes on it. Of course, I don't have to be staring at the Ribbon all the time. If I just wanted to look at the list, I can be on the Browse tab. That just shows me I'm in the Useful Contacts inside the blank SharePoint site, not so blank anymore. If I go back to the homepage in my blank SharePoint site, I can actually see that I have a link generated to that list. This is SharePoint attempting to be helpful.

You don't have to have that link on your quick launch bar, but the default is that when a new list is created, it will add a link to that list. Again, it's a way I can get back to it. So, this is the way that I would start to build out this site. Going back to my Site Actions menu, and either saying I want a new Document Library or saying I want more options to create other lists and other libraries, and, in fact, in this case, even other sites. If I look at my Libraries that are available, we've got some specialized ones like Data Connection Libraries, Wiki Page Libraries, and Form Libraries, but the majority of the libraries you will make will be just Document Libraries, and often, Picture Libraries.

My unofficial guess would be that Document Libraries make up 95% of everything you might want to create. To create a Document Library, it's the same as creating a list. I simply give it a name. The name is not magical. It can be whatever you want. It's very common to see your default document library called Shared Documents. But there is nothing remarkable about that name. Click Create. It looks very similar to the list that we created. In fact, if you're wondering if there is a big difference between a list and a library, the answer is no. There isn't.

Everything in SharePoint is a list. A Library is really just a list of documents, or a list of images, or a list of Web pages. You can also see two that appear in the Ribbon. We've got a Library section of the Ribbon that allows us to affect the settings of the library, or the permissions of the library, or e-mailing links or creating views. We'll talk about views later. It also allows us to shift to the Documents mode, which is work on the individual pieces of the library, create a new document or upload a document, or make a new folder.

But again, this is one of the plus points of a lot of the internal pieces of SharePoint being very similar to each other. If you know how to work with the Document Library, you pretty much know how to work with any library. If you know how to work with a Contacts List, you pretty much know how to work with any list. Even if you're not intending to make your own sites or do significant site customization, it's important to understand that all SharePoint sites are made of these fairly simple ingredients. One benefit is that it becomes easy to jump from one site to another, as most of the lists and libraries will behave the same way across multiple sites.

If you learn how to use a Document Library in a Team Site, you know how to use a Document Library in a document workspace, or a meeting workspace, or some other SharePoint site that you've never seen before.

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SharePoint 2010 Getting Started

28 video lessons · 32702 viewers

Simon Allardice
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