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In SharePoint 2010 Getting Started, author Simon Allardice walks through the first few hours a new user will spend with SharePoint working with Web sites, communities, content, and search. This course covers creating and using SharePoint sites, lists and libraries, how SharePoint streamlines teamwork, Office integration, and solutions for workflows and business intelligence.
If your organization has SharePoint Server, either the Standard or the Enterprise Edition, some of your sites may be using something called the Publishing feature in SharePoint. You'll also hear the phrase Web Content Management applied to the same idea. This is not something you use on every site. It's something that you use on sites intended for a large group of people where you need a lot more control over what your Web pages look like. Now, what I'm looking at here is a site template called the Publishing Portal, pretty much as it looks immediately after it's created.
The Publishing Portal is a site intended for either a large intranet or a public Internet site. As such, it's little bland to begin with. I'm logged on with high permissions, so I still have a Site Actions menu. I've got a lot of options in my Site Actions menu. But I do still have the ability to edit the page, for example. However, if I shift into Edit mode, while it might immediately look very similar, there's actually a big difference in what's happening here. Instead of having a big generic area of content that I can type into and insert tables, and insert Web parts, it's much more controlled.
In fact, it's very controlled. The Title goes here and only here. This area can have a Page Image in it. Below here we've got some Summary Links. And that's because Publishing Sites impose much more control over navigation and page layout. And the idea is that most people who use these sites don't collaborate on them. They're not like Team Sites or Document Workspaces. They are designed for publishing information to a wide audience. And in fact, one of the primary splits between different kinds of SharePoint sites are sites targeted collaboration and sites targeted at publishing.
Now I should still be able to figure out how I can change things. It looks like I can type things in here. I can change the Title from Home, to Home Page. I can still use the Ribbon to save that change. But here's a big difference. I see this message here saying this is Checked out and editable. In fact, if I was logged on as a different kind of user, which I am in this browser, I'm going to refresh this. Now I can see that in this page where I'm logged on as somebody else I see the word Home as the Title, whereas this one is Home Page. I'm not seeing the updates yet.
And that's because when the Publishing feature is enabled we take this idea that we've used already on document libraries, the idea that we can have versioning, draft and published versions. We can have check in, check-out required. We can have workflow, and we apply it not to the documents inside our libraries, but to our Web site as a whole, to every page on our Web site. And that means if I make a change to the Home Page, that change is considered a draft until I say otherwise.
So not only do we get much more control over this, I can still edit the page, but it's very controlled. In fact, the only choice that I have in changing the layout is using something called a Page Layout, where I get to say this page has an image on the left, or an image on the right or this is a Splash page, or Table of Contents. Now the idea is that Web designers in your organization will create your own layouts for your own kind of content. If you have products, they'll define what it means to be a product page. But you won't get the ability just to do generic content anymore.
And because of that, for example, we don't see right now an Insert tab. I don't see a way to insert a table, or a custom Web part. The big difference, however, is here, that I have a Publish section to my Ribbon, which allows me to say Start a Workflow, or I do have an option here to say Publish. Because I have super high permission levels, I can directly save and publish this myself. What's more typical is that if I was editing this page, the only option I'd see would be Submit, meaning submit my changes for approval, going through the Approval Workflow.
And in fact, if you're going through these concepts, and you think, you know, it seems like it's kind of using the same ideas of document libraries. We can check it out. We can have workflow. We can mark something and submit it for approval. Well, it's not just like document libraries with those features enabled. That's in fact, exactly what's happening here. When we're working with the Publishing feature, we're actually working with a Home Page that is a document in a Document Library. In fact, if I go to my Site Actions menu and click View All Site Content, I'll see that I have a Document Library here called Pages.
Inside Pages is one document, the one called Default. That's actually my Home Page. It's currently marked as checked out, because I made a change to it. It says it's using the Page Layout called Splash page. That's the one with the title and the place for the image and two sets of links. If I click that, I go to the Home Page. It says it's checked out. It's editable. If I'd made some substantial changes to it, I could even start a workflow. The Page Approval workflow is attached to this. And if I was to select that - well, it's telling me the document must be checked in first.
Okay. That makes sense. Let's go back and check it in. We do that from the menu here. I click Edit, going to say check it in. I don't have any comments right now. Notice the message. Checked in, yes, but only viewable by authorized users, people with the ability to change this page. Back to Publish, Start a Workflow, Page Approval. This looks quite similar to the workflow process that we did on the Document Library, and in fact, it's almost identical.
I'm going to cancel that, because I don't actually have to start workflow. Luckily, I have high enough permissions that I can directly publish it. But what we're really doing here is taking that same idea on the document libraries and applying it to our pages. In fact, if I was to look at this Document Library, you might think it's somehow different than the Document Library we've been using up to this point, but it really isn't. If I look at the settings of this Document Library, and go into my Versioning Settings area I can see, I'm keeping major and minor (draft) versions.
I'm only allowing users who can edit items to see the draft items, and I require documents to be checked out before they can be edited. The fact that those are turned on affects what I see here. Now as you might imagine the whole area of Web Content Management is something that we could do an entire course on at lynda.com. This is a huge specialized area, but understand that at its core there are really three things to be aware of when working with Publishing Sites. One, this is a feature designed for sites with a lot of people consuming the content, few contributors, many readers.
This is not something you need on a Team Site or a Document Workspace. It will put too much drag on the system. Second, understand that this is substantial. The real power of a Publishing Site is your own Web designers create your own layouts for your own content before you start getting going with this. And now three, even though it might seem like a much more complex idea to edit the page, really what's happening is we're taking those document management features: Versioning, Check In, Check Out, and Workflow, not just to document, but to every page in our Web site.
And that's what the Publishing feature is doing.
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