Sharepoint with Taxonomy

06Sep09

SLA 2009 Conference Round-up

I have been exposed to a Sharepoint demo in its incubation stage before being rolled out.  My intention is to understand more about the nuts and bolts of how it worked going into the SLA Tech Zone workshop. We got to run through some exercises at the Taxonomy and SharePoint session.  The integrated content management system Microsoft Sharepoint is either a blessing or curse, because of the many promises it makes (see More Reading).

Laura Antos and Dan Segal of Dow Jones hosted the play and learn session for this beginner class. Many others were planning to implement SharePoint in the upcoming year. Some of the advantages to SharePoint (SP) are the flat learning curve, because of familar terms like List, Library and View, its navigation, and its interface. For learning purposes we were using out of the box implementation, but you can also customize SP.

Using a simple taxonomy with just four terms, with option for free text tags, I built some columns, lists and libraries then displayed in different view. Some SP terms are intuitive like lists and libraries but other terms have a new twist. Columns, for example, can be anything from a line of text, drop down lists, a calculation from a series of numbers, and even images. The basic material for a web site page is a Web Part. Templates can be defined in Site Columns, then they can be used as a master template assigned to Lists for a consistent look and feel across the site. I felt like a SharePoint geek at the end of the session ready and able to build some more pages.

If it were a real world situation, lists could be populated by importing from Excel 2007 as well as from third party vendors. Although I was impressed by the claim, I shuddered at the thought of importing from third party as I could forsee a big mess with data cleanup as the outcome.

For taxonomists, the vocabulary is flat and the heirarchy tends to topical instead of structural. And for everyone else, there is no need to understand relationships between terms like BT, NT, RT. (Sorry Library of Congress Classification system; but happy days for puzzled students.) If you require more sophisticated taxonomy, it can be enhanced with a thesaurus using XML or using third party add ons for metadata.

As mentioned SharePoint has the ability to be customized to an organization’s needs, instead of going with out of the box implementation. This is where project management, planning, and cooperation between IT, library services and an consulting firm specializing in SP can yield in a successful outcome for the entire organization.

– Brenda

More Reading

Group blog from non profit organization perspective and prefers open source options

SharePoint groupie

Consultancy specializing in SharePoint

If you have interest in taxonomy and everyone should in libraries as it seems central to organizing the digital chaos, check out a new SLA chapter on Taxonomy.

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