Friday, April 26, 2013

What are Content Types in SharePoint?

Sometimes it becomes very difficult to find related information when you are searching through your large repository. For example, let’s assume that you need to create a project plan for a new project and you know that there have been other projects similar to yours in the past. In a portal with many project team sites, it can be very difficult to find all the project plans. Content Types in SharePoint helps in this situation. If you define “Project Plan” as a Content Type, you can then find all project plans in your portal easily with just a single search. Content Types also let you associate specific Site Columns with different types of content. For example, you can associate an Effective Date with a Policy Content type but not with other types of documents. If you share and manage the Policy Content Type across your entire farm, you can ensure that all Policy documents, created in any Site Collection, will have Effective Date as an attribute.

Any content that you store inside of SharePoint automatically gets associated with some content type. At the bottom, you have “item content type,” with just one column in it called ‘Title’. Every document that you upload into SharePoint, it gets associated with that document type content type. So any further content types you create are basically inheriting from these base content types, or another content type that in turn inherits from these base content types. The document content type also inherits from the item content type, so the daddy of all content types is the item content type.

Content Type contains these elements:
Metadata (Site Columns). Attributes required for Content Type are metadata about the content that can be used for categorization. Default values cannot be defined for Columns in a Content Type, just which properties or Columns are associated with the Content Type. 

Document template. Document templates can be used to create files with predefined styles and content. One unique document template assign to each Content Type.

Custom “forms.” Specifically New, Edit, and Display forms can be defined to use with a Content Type.

Workflows. Some Content Types have a consistent process that can be assigned for approval. For example, all monthly Status Reports may have to be routed to the project manager before they can be published on the portal. A workflow can be associated with a particular Content Type. Workflows can be triggered automatically based on a specific event or manually with a user’s action.

Information management policies. Your organization may be having some rules about how particular Content Types should be handled. This is particularly useful when records management comes in. You can associate policies with a Content Type to manage characteristics such like retention period.

What is Content Type Syndication?
Content type syndication allows the publishing, consuming, and distributing of one or many content types to other farms, web applications, and site collections. Content type syndication requires a hub from which to publish. 

Hub: A site collection designated as a source from which content types are shared throughout the enterprise.

Publishing: There is not much difference between Published content type and standard content type in SharePoint. The only difference is that they are disseminated across the organization from the centralized hub. There is only one hub for each Metadata Shared Application Service. 

What are External Content Types?
External content types are used to retrieve data from line-of-business (LOB) applications and other external sources through Business Connectivity Services (BCS). External content types must be deployed as full-trust solutions; however you can create external lists within sandbox environment and use these content types to retrieve data.

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