A Practical Guide to SharePoint 2013

A Practical Guide to SharePoint 2013
A Practical Guide to SharePoint 2013 - Book by Saifullah Shafiq

Friday, February 7, 2014

SharePoint 2013 - A Practical Tool For Information Management (Part 1)


Information Management is a very hot topic and the reason is that is it not an easy job to manage information and that is one reason SharePoint is popular with the enterprises because they are the ones who needs these tools the most. Managing information is a headache for these organizations. Data lies in different silos and bringing all data in one place is difficult but important because it is the data that generates information. Managers then use this information to create “useful” information that helps the stake holders. If there is one tool that reduces the pain of these organizations, that is SharePoint. SharePoint is a perfect tool for managing data and information. One big problem that companies face is searching for and finding information. SharePoint is a perfect search tool that can search everything including network folders, external databases, websites and everything you can think of. In this book, I will explain some important features of SharePoint and also show how search can be used to maximize benefits of using SharePoint.

Managed Metadata in SharePoint 2013

Metadata has gained popularity over the last few years. It greatly enhances search functionality. Managed metadata is a hierarchical collection of centrally managed terms that you can define and then use as attributes for items in SharePoint. Metadata is information about information. You can add extra tags to the information to identify it easily. It’s also called as labelling. You can label your documents or items and items can be searched by users using these labels or tags. These labels or tags are metadata. For example, if you have a contract document stored in SharePoint, you can label it using keywords like contract, case number, attorney name, law practice name, etc. Metadata is managed centrally. It’s organized in a way that makes sense in your business. It is important to understand some key terminology.


Taxonomy is a formal classification system. Taxonomy groups the words, labels, and terms that describe something, and then arranges the groups into a hierarchy. Taxonomy plays an important part in the management of information. Each organization defines different taxonomies for their different systems or departments. Some organizations prefer a single taxonomy for their business operations.  For example, taxonomy for the HR department lists all terms related to HR operations. Taxonomy for finance department lists down all commonly used terms in finance.


A folksonomy is an informal classification system. It evolves gradually as users collaborate on words used in a site. The concept is same as bookmarking. The tag clouds you see on blogs are an example of folksonomy.

Term Set

A term set is a group of related terms. Term sets can have different scope, depending on where you create the term set. Local term sets are created within the content of a site collection and are available only to the users of that site collection. Global term sets are available to all users across the SharePoint farm. Global term sets are available to sites that subscribe to managed metadata service.


A term is a specific word or keyword that you associate with an item. It is a single item in a term set. A term is unique because it has a unique ID and it can have many text labels. For example, in a multilingual site, the term can have different labels for different languages. Managed terms are pre-defined. Administrator defines these terms. Enterprise keywords are terms that site user adds to items. The collection of enterprise keywords is known as the keywords set.


Group is a collection of term sets. Only users having contribute permissions can manage term sets within a group.

Term Store Management Tool

The term store management tool is the tool that is used to define term sets and terms. It is used by the administrators and is available in the central administration site under Search.

Managed Metadata column

This is special kind of column that you can add to lists. It is used to attach metadata to the items. This is an auto-populate column. As soon as user starts typing, SharePoint displays lists of terms available in the term set. User has to select a term set when adding this column to the list. User can then select the terms that are relevant to their item. This is also called as tagging.

Enterprise keywords column

This is a column that users can add to content types, lists, or libraries to enable users to tag items. It is a multi-value column. Users can add new terms in this column or select existing ones.

Social Tags

Social tags are tags that site users can apply to content to help them categorize information. Social tagging is useful because it helps site users to improve the discoverability of information on a site. Social tag consists of three parts: User identity, item URL, term. Term is stored in a term stored and is public information. User identity can be made private if user wants to stay anonymous. If user enters new keywords when tagging information, these keywords are stored in the keywords term set. Social tags support folksonomy-based tagging.

Metadata Advantage

The metadata allows users to tag items consistently. Centrally stored term stores are used by all users, therefore, users don’t have to enter their own version of keywords. Common keywords available in the term store make it easier for the users to tag items. Biggest advantage of metadata is information discoverability. It is easier to find information. Information management has always been a problem especially in big companies and organizations where the volume of data is huge. It is important to convert data into information because information provides value. Discoverability is the first step towards achieving that goal. If information is stored somewhere and is not easily discoverable, that information is useless because it is not being used. Metadata is especially useful in the business environments where information is stored in different formats and across different sites. Using metadata, searching this scattered information become easy.

Metadata navigation

Metadata navigation enables users to create view dynamically, based on specific metadata fields.

Planning Metadata

Careful planning is very important before managed metadata service can be used. This is part of governance and is considered best practice. Each organization should have a taxonomy and based on taxonomy administrators can define global term sets. Planning metadata in advance helps administrators run operations smoothly. Problems start to appear when the size of data starts growing with the passage of time. As the number of users grows, and their usage of sites grows, data also grows quickly. With more documents stored in sites, and if users have adopted metadata, the size of metadata database also grows quickly. It is important to plan out things in advance otherwise managing and rectifying things at a later stage becomes problematic and time consuming.

Metadata Management

In this section, you will learn how to manage metadata and see a few practical examples.

1.  Go to Central Administration site. Go to General Application Settings.

2.  Click Farm Search Administration under Search.

3.  Click Search Service Application link.

4.  Under Queries and Results, click Search Dictionaries. Term Store Management Tool will open. Here you can define new groups, term sets and terms.

5.  Expand Managed Metadata Service and select New Group. Enter Custom as the group name and hit Enter. Enter description, add group managers and contributors and click Save

Figure 15-14: Managed Metadata Service

6.      Click the new group and open drop down and select New Term Set. Enter CustomTags as the name of the term set and hit Enter. Add description, owner, contact, stakeholders and click Save. In the Submission Policy, you can choose to keep term set open or closed. When a term set is closed, only metadata managers can add terms to this term set. When it is open, users can add terms from a tagging application. 

7.      Click on the term store and select Create Term. Enter a term and hit Enter. Add as many terms you like.

Figure 15-15: Create Term

You can see the other available options in the figure above. You can copy an existing term ste, you can reuse terms, you can pin term with children and you can move term set. Pin Term With Children means that you can pin this term with another term store.

       8.      You have now defined a term set. Let’s use it in a list. Go to your SharePoint site and create a custom list. Call it Metadata. Add a column called ItemType. To create column, select LIST tab and click Create Column button. Enter Metadata in the column name and select Managed Metadata as the type. Check Allow multipe values. In Term Set Settings, select the newly created term set. In Allow Fill-in, choose Yes. Click OK. 

9.      Enter a new item in the list. Enter something in Title. Click in ItemType field and start typing. SharePoint will show you suggestions from the term set. Once you have attached metadata to the item you can search for the item using metadata terms in search. 

Figure 15-16: Metadata in action