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Syndication

Richard Harbridge and James Lappin discuss information architecture issues within SharePoint.

Richard gives his rule of thumb for answering the following question - when a new area or function comes on board in a SharePoint implementation is it best to set up a SharePoint site collection or simply a site within an existing site collection?

We discuss the pros and cons of 'site collections' which are a feature unique to SharePoint.  Site collections are a hierarchical collection of SharePoint sites sharing common administrative settings and some common information archicture features such as content types.   Crucially a site collection cannot be split across seperate SQL server content databases, so there are storage as well as information architecture considerations to deciding how many site collections to set up and what for.  Microsoft recommends that each site collection does not exceed 100GB in size.

James asks about the relationship between site collections and search, and Richard describes some tips for configuring a SharePoint search centre with search 'scopes' set up to enable your users to target their searches at particular site collections or at particular types of content.  We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of refiners in SharePoint search.  Refiners are a set of links that are returned alongside SharePoint 2010 search results and which enable users to filter those results by defined parameters (for instance date modified, document type, project title).  James is disappointed firstly that the SharePoint 2010 refiners only filterthe first 500 results, but more importantly that they give no indication given to the user that only the first 500 results had been refined.

The discussion then touches on the managed metadata service in SharePoint 2010 as a way of getting controlled vocabularies out of the confines of a single site collection and into a place where they can be used by any site collection.  Richard outlined some of the ways in which the managed metadata service does not work as well as he would like (and mantions an article by Michal Pisarek in which these weaknesses are collected) but says he still recommends his clients make some use of it.

We finish by talking about 'business connectivity services' in SharePoint.  This enables data (in the form of database rows and columns) to be imported into SharePoint from another database within the organistion. Once the data is in SharePoint it can be used as a controlled vocabulary to improve the findability of content. Richard gives the examples of a law firm importing into SharePoint a list of its matter numbers from its customer database.   The one disappointment is that the business connectivity service does not work with the managed metadata service - it is not possible to import a list (for example a list of clients) into the managed metadata service from a line of business database and use that as controlled vocabulary within SharePoint.