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Web Parts and Their Functionality in SharePoint 2010 (part 2) - Lists And Libraries Web Parts, Business Data Web Parts

11/21/2012 9:50:19 AM
The Web Parts available out of the box with SharePoint 2010 have been organized into several categories. You can enable and disable many of these categories or Web Parts using features at the site collection level. For example, if you enable the SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure, you will add a total of six Web Parts to your site to support the publishing activities such as the Content Query Web Part.

In this section, you’ll use the Team Site template with publishing turned on as the basis for the discussion of available Web Parts. Other templates will alter some of your content, but not substantially. The categories in which Web Parts are groups in the Team Site template are as follows.

  • Lists And Libraries

  • Business Data

  • Content Rollup

  • Document Sets (Requires the Document Sets feature to be activated at Site Collection Level)

  • Filters

  • Forms

  • Media And Content

  • Outlook Web App

  • Search

  • Social Collaboration

  • Miscellaneous

It isn’t possible to cover every Web Part in depth in the following sections, however. Some will be mentioned briefly and a few will be discussed in depth.

1. Lists And Libraries Web Parts

The Web Parts that ship with SharePoint in this category include those that have been available since Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003: Announcements, Shared Documents, Tasks, Discussions, and Calendar.

One new Web Part that warrants note is the Drop Off Library. This document library is provisioned to look at the properties of a document as the document is uploaded into the library. Then, based on the rules that the library owner configures for the properties of the documents that are uploaded into the library, the document is automatically moved to another library. You can think of this library as a way to move documents to their proper hosting location automatically, based on their metadata assignments.

Displaying Content with Web Parts

SharePoint is full of content stored in lists and libraries. The content includes list items, documents, and images. The Content category provides you with Web Parts that display content in different ways. There are rollup Web Parts that aggregate content from lists or libraries in subsites along with Web Parts that display the content of a specific list or library.

Every document library and list Web Part within SharePoint can also be presented as a Web Part on the page, using a Web Part known as a List View Web Part. Some of the lists within a site would be useful if they were displayed on the home page of the site as well as by navigating to the list by using the Quick Launch. As an example, you could display the Announcements list on the home page of a team site so that members of that site see the announcements as soon as they navigate to the page.

SharePoint 2010 improves on the performance and user interface of the List View Web Part. The performance has been improved by providing AJAX options and therefore allowing the data to refresh automatically rather than by page refresh. Cache options have also been improved for the Web Part. Both of these options help improve page load times within your SharePoint environment. The new AJAX options can be seen in the tool pane when you edit a Web Part (see Figure 7).

Figure 7. The AJAX options that are available in almost every SharePoint 2010 Web Part allow pages to refresh more quickly and reduce the number of round trips of .aspx pages.

The user interface of the List View Web Part, shown in Figure 19-8, provides better toolbar options, which can be turned on or off in the tool pane by turning the toolbar option on or off. It also displays the document icon, alternate row colors, and an Add New Item link at the bottom of the list items, which provides a quick way to add content.

Figure 8. List View Web Part and its improved user interface

Because site collections can become large in terms of the amount of data they host, it is sometimes helpful to roll up certain types of data into a single view. Don’t expect site members to visit each site they belong to on a daily basis to check for new assigned tasks, documents, or announcements. The Content Rollup Web Part addresses this problem. It aggregates information (list items) from lists on multiple sites of the site collection and adds them to one Web Part. This one Web Part allows you to navigate to access your content.

2. Business Data Web Parts

The Business Data Web Parts in SharePoint 2010 are somewhat similar to what is available with SharePoint Server 2007. The purpose of the Business Data Web Parts is to present line-of-business data on Web Parts Pages. Each of the Web Parts can be connected to other business data Web Parts to provide the ability to drill down through data, such as to select a customer and then see the order history for that customer. The Web Parts can be used throughout SharePoint on Web Part Pages, team sites, dashboard sites, and workspaces. They can provide flexibility for the information worker to customize or personalize some aspects of the Web Part.

Figure 9 shows the Insert Web Part option, used to add a new Web Part on the page, displaying the choice of Web Parts in the Business Data category.

Figure 9. Business Connectivity Services Web Parts available using the Insert Web Part option

2.1. Business Data Actions

The Business Data Actions Web Part provides users with a list of actions that they can perform on a row of data from an external content type.


What was called an Entity in SharePoint Server 2007 is now called an external content type in SharePoint 2010. It is effectively a dataset that contains an enumerator, methods, filters, and actions that can be used on a result set such as a table or stored procedure.

An action can be almost any URL that accepts parameters. The actions provide endless functionality to information workers who want to do more with the business data than just present it in a list or library. For example, think about what an end user needs to do with customer information. If the end user is a sales representative, he might want to search for customer information in an Internet search engine, look the customer up in a customer relationship management (CRM) system, or even send an e-mail to that customer.

The custom actions are created at the time of authoring the external content type using Visual Studio, SharePoint Designer, or a third-party tool. The following is an example of what a custom action looks like.{0}

The {0} is a placeholder for one of the column values for a specific row. For example, if you click the custom action on Sven Freitag, the action would be a URL that looks like the following.

The Business Data Actions Web Part is not the only place where these actions can be run; they can also be run from the title property in the Business Data List Web Part.

2.2. Business Data Catalog Filter

This Web Part is very useful within dashboard pages where your line-of-business data can involve data stored within a back-end system such as an Oracle database, but you also have related data stored in SharePoint lists and libraries. For example, your customer information might come from the CRM application by way of Business Connectivity Services (BCS), but your proposals for each customer are stored within a SharePoint document library.

Therefore, to link this information together, you can configure the Business Data Catalog Filter Web Part to provide you with a choice of rows whereby you can select a customer. A Web Part connection can then be sent to the List View Web Part to allow the filtering of documents. Therefore, if you want to see all documents related to Sven Freitag, you would select Sven Freitag from the Business Data Catalog Filter Web Part.

2.3. Business Data Item

The Business Data Item Web Part displays one row of data from an external content type in a columnar format. This Web Part is used out of the box on the profile page that is generated when the external content type is created. The Business Data Item Web Part contributes to a well-laid-out dashboard page. Quite often your tables will contain too many columns to display all of them on the screen using the Business Data List Web Part. For example, a table containing customer information could have the following columns.

  • Customer ID

  • Company Name

  • Address

  • Address2

  • City

  • State

  • ZIP

  • Country

  • Telephone

  • Fax

  • Website

Displaying all of that information in a horizontal table layout would take up too much room on the page. Instead, you might decide to show only the company name, city, and state columns. This would take up less room but still allow you to drill down if required. In other words, you link the Business Data List Web Part to the Business Data Item Web Part that shows all of the columns. Because the Business Data Column Web Part is displayed in columnar format, the width of the page doesn’t matter. To show detailed information, you simply need to click the name of one of your customers.

Although the Business Connectivity Services Web Parts still play a big role in BCS, the external list is a preferred method of displaying line-of-business data from an external content type because it also provides create, read, update, and delete (CRUD) capabilities. The external list can also be added to a SharePoint page just like a List View Web Part. They might not look very impressive initially, but when they are added to a Web Part Page, the additional columns, formatting, grouping, and so forth can be set in SharePoint Designer 2010 just like with any List View Web Part or Data View Web Part. An external list is shown in Figure 10.

Figure 10. An external list displaying data

2.4. Status Indicator

SharePoint Server 2007 saw the introduction of a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Web Part that has now been replaced with the Status Indicator Web Part. PerformancePoint Services in Microsoft SharePoint 2010 provides a far better KPI view than that of the previous KPI Web Part.

Status indicators are configured via a status list Web Part that can be created within any site to show the status of SharePoint list values, a Microsoft Excel workbook, Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services, or Fixed Values. Goals can be set for each cell or row, or the data can be entered manually, depending on your source. The Status Indicator Web Part is then configured to point at your status indicator list and then displays the KPIs as required. The Status Indicator Web Part can also be connected to the Status Indicator Details Web Part to allow a user to drill down to see details. The Status Indicator Web Part is shown in Figure 11.

Figure 11. The Status Indicator Web Part preconfigured to display a key performance indicator

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