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If a document library just allowed you to upload a few documents and share them, it would be useful, but certainly not groundbreaking. That really wouldn't be all that different from a shared folder on a network drive. But document libraries do far more and one of the most common things they are asked to do is versioning, saving multiple versions of that same document. This is useful for you and its invaluable when you have different people working on the same document. Now document libraries do not have Versioning on by default. You have to turn it on.
It's very simple to do. You need to go to the Library section of your Ribbon and find your Library Settings, and of course you have to be in the document library itself before you go to this, or you won't even see this section of your Ribbon. From your Library Settings where you can do an awful lot of things. The second link there is Versioning Settings. Clicking on that takes us to a page with really not a lot of options on it. The most important one first is this. do you want to create a version each time you edit a file in this document library? I'm going to change this to create major versions. We'll come back to this in a minute and what that means, but this is really saying Yes, and I'll click OK.
Versioning is now turned on for this library. If I use the Breadcrumb to go back to my documents library, find one of my documents, open it up in Microsoft Word, make the first change, and save it. We have now saved another version. Now what I told SharePoint to do was save major versions. What that actually means is we had a Version 1.0, as soon as that versioning was turned on, and then when I made my change, we have 2.0. "Prove it," you say.
Well, I shall. I am going to mouse over that document and find the drop-down menu and come down to this option that says Version History 1.0 and 2.0. And notice the size. This is a small document, but both of these documents take the same amount of space. A lot of people imagine that what SharePoint must be doing when it's making a version is checking the changes between the two and only saving the changes and that's absolutely not what it's doing. When you tell SharePoint to make another version and you make a change, it just saves a complete other version of that document.
It doesn't waste time running comparisons. it just saves the whole thing. The downside of that is if your documents are 50, 60, 100 megabytes and you start saving multiple copies, you can get through whole lot of space very, very quickly. So one of the options we can do to start to manipulate that is going back to a Library Ribbon and back to our Library Settings into our Versioning Settings, where an option we have is to limit the number of versions that we retain. We could say I only want to keep say 10 versions.
I am only making major versions, so I'm keeping the following number of major versions as 10 and click OK, and that just means there were at least limiting the amount of versions that we create in this document library. However, what becomes a bit more interesting is when we move off just creating major versions into creating major and minor versions, and SharePoint really thinks of the minor version as a draft version. Say for example, you're working on an employment contract. you may go through several revisions of this before you actually finish it.
So you are going from 1.1 to 1.2 to 1.3 to 1.17, and at some point you then say I think I'm done. It's now a major version. It's a 2.0. Now just by selecting this radio button that's now turned on, by default if I make a simple change to that document it will be considered a minor change unless I say otherwise. So opening this up and making a second change and to save that, close it down. If I look at the version history, we've gone from 2.0 to 2.1.
If I wanted to say no, I wanted that to be actually 3.0, I wanted that to be a major version, I can use that same drop- down button and say Publish a Major Version. I could add some comments if I wanted to. Click OK. Now going back to the Version History, we go from 1.0 to 2.0 to 3.0. If I'm editing in Word, I can also go to the File menu where I can see the versions being listed here as well.
And one of the common questions I get asked is, well, how can I see the differences between the versions? If I have got multiple versions and I don't quite know what the difference is, does SharePoint tell me that? Well, if we are looking at the SharePoint document library, I can say to you that SharePoint does not tell you that. It only tells you the Version History, including the times of the versions, but it does not say what the differences are. To do that, we need to be in Word. Now on the Info page we do have a little bit here that says Compare with Major Version, Compare with Last Version, but I find a better way to do it is just on the regular Home tab when we are editing the document.
Word has always had great ability to show and compare different documents and we are going to make use of that by going to the Review section of the Ribbon here. We have a section called Compare, where I get a lot of choices, compare with the last major version, compare with a specific version, compare two particular versions. I am going to just say compare with the last version. Word will retrieve the last version from SharePoint, do the comparison, and as you see we get the compared document with a highlighted change in it. We get the original document. We get the revised document.
So we are actually using Word's ability to look at the differences, not SharePoint. SharePoint doesn't care what the differences are. They could be as small as a period. They could be the entire body of the document. It doesn't mind. I am going to close that down, because I don't need that anymore. I don't want to save my changes and I actually don't want to make any changes to that document either. In fact, I will close that down because I had it opened twice. Now one of the very common things that you do in your Library Settings is not only have Versioning on, but also towards the bottom here, Require documents to be checked out before they can be edited.
I am going to say Yes here. Now a little thing to note. That option that I just selected does not mean "enable checkout." You can always check documents out. Even if I hadn't turned that on, we could have selected a particular document and click the Checkout button and it marks that document as being checked out by you. What I just told it to do was require documents to be checked out when editing. In fact, if I now decide to edit that same document I edited a moment ago, I'll say edit in Microsoft Word without checking it out, it will actually tell me, well, that doesn't make sense.
So you're about to checkout and edit that document. It gives you the option here. Do you want to use your local drafts folder? This typically just improves the speed a little bit by downloading a copy locally to your machines. So you can say Yes, you can say No, it doesn't really matter. And now when I make another change to this, I am going to just close down Word and say Yes, I want to save my changes. It's going to prompt me, hey, other people can't see this until you check in. Do you want to check in now? Oh yeah, I think I will and now because I have this on, it also asks me, what kind of version would you like to check in? A draft version, in which case it will be 3.1 or published version, in which case it will be 4.0? I will make it 4.0 and click OK.
Again, that information I could get either from the drop-down box of Version History, or I could select the document and click Version History on the Ribbon. It does the same thing. Now notice that this document still has a little green arrow below it. That's because it still thinks I have got it checked out and it's simply because I haven't refreshed this page since I saved my changes. If I just hit F5 to refresh my page right now, I can retry that, I will see that that little checkmark has gone. Now if I did check out a document without editing it, which is very easy to do either from the drop-down menu or the Ribbon. I'll check it out.
Let's say I changed my mind. Well, I actually didn't want to do that. Do I have to make a change and check it back in? Well, I do have the ability either to check it in, or in this case just discards checkout. This can actually be useful too, if you on an owner of the site and say somebody else has checked out a document and then they have left for a long vacation and they should have checked it out before they left, you can basically force it to be checked back in. All of this doesn't eliminate any possible problems. But by having both Versioning turned on and having checkout required before changes are made, you can certainly take care of a lot of the problems that you're likely to run into when multiple people are editing documents in a document library.
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