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Understanding versioning

From: SharePoint 2010 Getting Started

Video: Understanding versioning

Document Libraries can be simple containers for documents, just like a folder on your desktop. You save the document there and if you change it, you are changing that document, and the old version is gone. You can, also from your Documents section of the Ribbon, make New Folders, Subfolders inside this Document Library if you want. What's more interesting, and what really adds value to SharePoint Document Library, is some things that you can do from the Library part of your Ribbon. Because each Document Library in SharePoint has settings where versioning can be enabled, and this allow you to keep multiple versions of the same document.

Understanding versioning

Document Libraries can be simple containers for documents, just like a folder on your desktop. You save the document there and if you change it, you are changing that document, and the old version is gone. You can, also from your Documents section of the Ribbon, make New Folders, Subfolders inside this Document Library if you want. What's more interesting, and what really adds value to SharePoint Document Library, is some things that you can do from the Library part of your Ribbon. Because each Document Library in SharePoint has settings where versioning can be enabled, and this allow you to keep multiple versions of the same document.

I can only change this setting if I have the right permissions, typically being an owner of this site. If I was just a contributor, I couldn't change the settings of the Library. But with this section of my Ribbon highlighted, I am going to go to Library Settings where I have a section here called Versioning Setting. As we've seen several times, there are settings pages all over SharePoint. This is the Setting's page for this Library on this site. I select Versioning Settings, and here is my main option. Do I want to create a version each time I edit a file in this document library? The default is No.

There is only one version of each document. It's the latest version. I can choose to either Create major versions or major and minor versions. What's the difference? Well, really the key is in this word draft when we create minor versions. Well, there is nothing really magical about whether something is a major or a minor version, as far as SharePoint is concerned. It's going to say, hey! I am quite happy to keep multiple versions of it, whatever you want to call them. The idea of a draft version is really based on what you are doing with this document? Are you versioning it? Because you perhaps have multiple people that change it, add content, revise content.

But at some point you are going to look at it and think, you know, I'm done. That's actually published. That's a major version. Or don't you care about that? If you don't care, you probably just want to Create major versions. If you have the idea that the document really has two different statuses, that of being in a Draft mode and the Published mode, you might Create major and minor versions, because there is an impact to doing this. Now, one of the things to know about is if you are doing versioning, SharePoint says, okay, I'm just going to keep a version for every change you make to the document.

It doesn't make some kind of comparison to the underlying document. It just keeps another version. So, if you are keeping unlimited versions of large documents, you may end up taking up a great deal of space. So, we can also optionally limit the number of versions to retain. I might say I want to keep up to 4 major versions. Then the next option is how many of those versions do I want to keep drafts for? Now, notice the wording here. This is not to keep the following number of major versions and keep the following number of minor versions.

It's keeping the following number of major versions, and keep drafts, meaning all drafts, for how many of these major versions? I might keep drafts for just the past 2 versions. Here, however, is the real impact to selecting major and minor draft versions. Because what we can say here is Who should see draft items? Who should see minor versions? Anybody, or Only users who can edit items? I really like this choice. This means on a site that I have both readers and contributors on, that if I am a contributor, I can see the document as it's changing.

But if I'm only a reader, I see the last published version. So, the contributors could be working on say a document that's a contract or a policy. While they're working on it, people who are allowed to read it see only the last published version on it. They don't see the work in progress. Then when they make enough revisions and say okay I'm done. I'm published, then they can see the latest version. One of the things is very useful, too, here is the ability to Require documents to be checked out before they can be edited.

This is that checkout feature that you've seen several times already. I am going to click OK here. I've now turned on Versioning, turned on Check In, Check Out required for this library. So, I am going to go back to the library itself. I am just going to use the Ribbon section here of my Browse mode of the Ribbon. It doesn't look any different, and it won't be. However, if I decide to select one of these, so I'll select this Excel spreadsheet, for example, I don't want to just look at it, so, I am going to select the dropdown menu and say Edit in Microsoft Excel.

Well, it's not just edit. You see the message here, You are about to check out and edit. I could've checked it out manually. But what's happening is SharePoint in Office is smart enough to know, if I say I want to edit it, well, I have to check it out first. The check box here to use my local drafts folder just means it's going to temporarily save a copy of this document onto my local machine, so that I wouldn't be upset by any network issues, for example. I am going to click OK. Open this up, and make a simple change.

Either hit Save or just close this down. Do you want to save the changes? Yes, I do. That's reminding me, Other users can't see your changes till your check-in. I checked it out. I edited it. But do I want to check it back in? Well, I could say No. Yes, check in would work fine, but I am going to say No, just to show how we Check In otherwise. Now, the little icon that we can see over here is that when this document is checked out, I have a little green arrow with a pointer to it. That's the visual indicator of a checked out document.

I can check it in either from the dropdown menu, I have a Check In option, or not surprisingly there is always multiple ways to do the same thing in SharePoint. If I select the document, I have the option here to Check it In. Select that. It's going to ask me, well, you've got both Minor and Major turned on. What is this? Now, notice that it's not asking me to give it a number. It's not saying, hey Simon, tell me if it's 1.4 or 1.5. It's going to decide the numbering for me.

I just have to tell it is it a draft version, in which case it is 1.1, or a major version, in which case is 2.0? I am going to say it's a draft right now. I am uploading from my local copy, and there we go. So, the little checkout icon is now missing. It's gone back to the regular Excel spreadsheet icon. But how might I see that information? Well, once again, I can do this by selecting the document and up on the Ribbon I have a Version History.

It's telling me, well, the first one was 1.0. That was when we actually turned on Versioning. It considers everything 1.0 at that point. See that I also have options to Delete Minor Versions. I could make another edit to this document. It's already selected, so I'll Edit Document. This time I'm not going to say use my local drafts folder. It shouldn't have any impact on what I'm doing right now, make a change. It doesn't matter how small or how large the change is. This is considered another version.

It's prompting me again that it would check me out. Do I want to check-in now? Yes, I do. I am going to check-in using Office. It's saying is it 1.2 or 2.0? Oh, I am going to say this time its 2.0. It's a Major version. It's published, and click OK. Back in SharePoint, I still see the little icon saying that this document is checked out. I've got a little green arrow at the bottom of this file. That's simply because this page has not refreshed. It's not been updated since I came back from Excel. Often, SharePoint does a good job of automatically updating the page, but sometimes it doesn't. I am just going to click the link to go back to this Document Library, which in this case refreshes the icons, and I can see yeah, it's checked back in.

It's not making a visual difference to the Document Library, and we wouldn't expect it to. These settings are separate for every library in every site. Some libraries can have Versioning on, some off. Some libraries just keep major versions. Others keep major and minor. Some have Check-In, Check- Out required. Some others it's turned off. Now, one of the questions is well, how do I tell the difference between multiple versions? Well, let me show you that. I am going to find this Word document here called Hiring Procedures.

There is really not much content in it. I am going to Edit that Document. As I can see, not terrifically impressive. I am going to delete this section, close the document, Save my changes. Yes, I am going to check it in. I'll call it a Minor version. I am going to make one more edit to it.

Save it and close it down. Yes, I am going to check it in. I'll call this 1.2. Click OK. We now have three versions of this document being stored in SharePoint, the 1.0, the 1.1 and the 1.2. What's actually quite common is that people want to know, well, what's the difference? How can I tell the difference between the versions? Well, we might first think that I could select it and go to Version History. Well, that doesn't really tell me the difference. It tells me the versions exist, but I don't really know what they are.

Now, I do have options. In this case it says, to View. I might think it'd go there. But this just means view the properties of it. Here is the deal. SharePoint is not intending to store the differences between the different versions of your documents. It just stores them. It doesn't care what the differences are. However, we do have a program that's pretty good at telling us what the differences are. I'm going to take this and open it again in Word. Now, I could open it read-only, or I could just say Edit Document.

From Word 2010 -- and this is also available in earlier versions, if I look at my Review section on the Ribbon, I have a Compassion part, where I can say I want to compare the last Major Version or the Last Version or a Specific Version. So, let's say I'll compare this document with the last Major Version published on the server, which was the 1.0. Select that. It retrieves those versions, and then starts to highlight. This section over here was the Original Document.

The Revised Document has had something deleted and something added. The Compared Document shows exactly what's been inserted and what's been deleted, and I could decide to make even more changes if I wanted. But we actually use Word to see visually what the changes have been, if that's relevant. I don't need to save any changes there, so I am done. So, just by turning on a few check boxes in the Library Settings of this Document Library, I can have all this extra functionality.

Document Libraries are where the majority of people spend the majority of their time in SharePoint, even if they don't think about it this way. Versioning is one of the immediate benefits you get from taking your content off your desktop, or off your network shares, and putting it into SharePoint.

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SharePoint 2010 Getting Started

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