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If you have the Professional Plus Edition of Office 2010, you are going to find that you have a program called Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2010. This is the new version of what used to be called Groove. And what it lets us do is have offline copies of the content in our SharePoint sites. If I go to one of the SharePoint sites that I use a lot, I can decide to synchronize this entire site, so I have got an offline copy. I can do that by using my Site Actions menu, which has an option, Sync to SharePoint Workspace.
Now, not every single list will synchronize down to your own desktop. In fact, it's very common that really what you're mainly interested in is say a document library. So I could go into a document library, go to the Library section of the Ribbon, and this itself has a Sync to SharePoint Workspace button. I click that. If I'd never used SharePoint Workspace before, it will ask me just to fill in a bit of simple data, like what's my name, what's my email address. Then it's going to ask, do you want to sync this list to your computer? Yes, I do.
It's going to download copies of all these documents to my local machine. Now, right now what it's actually showing me is a dialog box that on this site there are a couple of lists, such as the Calendar and Expense Advances, which was custom written in InfoPath, that won't be supported as offline copies. But that's okay because all I wanted was the Shared Documents library anyway. So I am going to click Close. I could now close down this website, shut my laptop off, disconnect from the network and walk away, and I would have offline copies, local copies of those documents saved on this machine.
Say if I was going away for a week in a log cabin or I was on a 12-hour plane ride, what I could do even without an Internet connection is I could open up SharePoint Workspace. It opens up this section called the Launchbar, and it will tell me these are the libraries and the lists that I know of. There is only one right now, which is the team site. I double-click that and it will tell me, okay, locally, I have the Shared Documents library and these are all the files I have inside it. SharePoint Workspace is smart enough to know that if I am connected to the network, I can use this as an option for checking things out, for looking at versions, for deleting even.
But the real power of it is that I don't have to be connected. I could open up these documents. I could make some changes to them, several over the period of several days. When I reconnect to the network and open up SharePoint Workspace, it will prompt me, hey, you've got unsaved changes that I want to save back to the SharePoint site. Now, it's also telling me right now that on this site I've got a bunch of other lists and libraries that are available only on the server right now. Some of these could be synchronized to SharePoint Workspace.
It's telling me this list is not currently on this computer. I can either open it in a browser or connect the SharePoint Workspace list to the SharePoint site. I don't need to do that. I am actually just fine the way it is. So this is a very specific need. If you're on a desktop computer that's permanently connected to your network, you don't need this, but if you're more of a laptop person, you travel, you're regularly disconnected from your own network, you should find this very, very useful. Now, if you don't have SharePoint Workspace, you can achieve a little bit of this ability by connecting say document libraries to Outlook and you can get offline copies of them that way.
But SharePoint Workspace is certainly more feature rich as this is its main reason for existing.
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