Document Sets are awesome!

During my assignment at an asset manager in the Netherlands, I really started to appreciate the power of Document Sets in SharePoint. I never really was a big fan (not sure why exactly) and never used them. One of my colleagues from the Intranet Team showed me the benefits and now I think they rock! I recently wrote an article for the DIWUG E-Magazine where I also write about Document Sets. In this post I would like to show you an example of the use of Document Sets within my own team at Macaw. Let’s take a look!

Storing publications and presentations

Our department finds it really important to share SharePoint knowledge by writing internal or external publications. We store the publications in Document Sets. The following screenshot isn’t an actual representation of our use of Document Sets but gives you a good perspective:

The publications are grouped by SharePoint version. Each visitor can immediately search for the SharePoint version they are looking for and also get a glimpse at the author. Let’s create a new publication:

Every author has to attach metadata to the publication. This improves the Search results and every visitor gets all the details of the publication. After entering all the metadata the following screen appears:

This is what I love about Document Sets! The welcome page. You see a description and all the important metadata such as the URL of the publication. I hope you noticed a different view compared to the library, where the document sets are grouped by the SharePoint version. The content of the Document Sets has a different view and different metadata! Awesome! This is why I recommend using Document Sets instead of folders, you have a lot more flexibility and options. It really improves User Adoption of SharePoint and Document Libraries. So how do you recreate this solution? It’s really easy.

Content type and site columns

We start by creating a new Content Type based at the default Document Set Content Type:

We create new site columns or attach default site columns to provide the metadata of our Document Set. Create a new document library and attach the Document Set Content Type:

  • Click on Library in the ribbon
  • Click on Library Settings
  • Click on Advanced Settings
  • Select Yes to allow the management of Content Types
  • Click on Ok.

The Document Set is now available in our library.

Document Set Settings

A Document Set has very useful settings. Let’s take a closer look at these settings:

Allowed Content Types

This settings enables you to set the default Content Types within the Document Set. I don’t recommend using this feature because it doesn’t work properly. Let me show you. I select a Document Content Type called Fact sheet as my only allowed Content Type. This is what happens:
The Fact sheet appears under New Document but after uploading a document the following happens:
In case the document library contains more Document Content Types the default one is selected. I recommend using the Default Content option.

Default Content

The main reason you want to use the Allowed Content Type feature is because you want your end-users to create Document Content Types with a predefined template. There is an easier way to do this. That’s using the Default Content option. You can add templates here, these templates are automatically added to the Document Set after an end-user creates a Document Set. Very handy!

Shared Columns

Again, a very cool feature. By adding Shared Columns all the document inside the Document Set inherit the Document Sets metadata. I really recommend using this feature because it improves the Search results in your SharePoint portal.

Welcome Page Columns

You probably noticed the metadata fields at the welcome page right?
How can I display those metadata fields? By using this feature!

Welcome Page View

Also a very powerful feature to display different metadata inside the Document Sets compared to the view of the Document Sets in the Document Library. We first have to change the default All Documents view to group by the Document Sets based at SharePoint version and only show the Author field:

To set a dedicated view for the Document Set we have to create a new view:

So how do we get this view to be the default view for the Document Set? By selecting it at the Welcome Page View option.

This is how Document Sets can benefit your business. I really hope you found this post useful and you can start working with Document Sets in your business.

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