Plan lists (Windows SharePoint Services)
Updated: December 1, 2006
Applies To: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0
A list is a collection of information that you share with Web site members. For example, you can create a sign-up sheet for an event, track project status information, or share upcoming vacation times on a team calendar.
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Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 includes the following types of lists by default:
Announcements Use an announcements list to share news and status and to provide reminders. Announcements support enhanced formatting with images, hyperlinks, and formatted text.
Calendar Use a calendar for all of your team's events, or for specific situations such as company holidays. A calendar provides visual views — similar to a desk or wall calendar — of your team events, including meetings, social events, and all-day events. You can also track team milestones, such as deadlines or product release dates, that are not related to a specific time interval. If you are using an e-mail or calendar program that is compatible with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, you can view and update your Microsoft® SharePoint® team calendar from the calendar program. You can also copy events from your personal calendar onto the team calendar and vice versa. For example, you can compare and update your calendar on the SharePoint site with dates from your Microsoft Office Outlook® 2007 calendar, by viewing both calendars side by side or overlaid with each other in Office Outlook 2007. In addition, you can enable e-mail integration for this type of list and send meeting requests to your team site calendar so that team meetings are automatically added to the team calendar.
Contacts Use a contacts list to store information about people or groups that you work with. If you are using an e-mail or contact management program that is compatible with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, you can view and update your contacts from your SharePoint site in the other program. For example, you can update a list of all your organization's suppliers from Office Outlook 2007. A contacts list doesn't actually manage the members of your site, but it can be used to store and share contacts for your organization such as a list of external vendors.
Custom Although you can customize any list, you can also start with a custom list and then customize that list by adding only the columns you want. You can also create a list that is based on a spreadsheet, if you have a spreadsheet program that is compatible with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 or Windows SharePoint Services 2.0, and Microsoft Internet Explorer. For example, you can import a list from one that you created with Microsoft Office Excel® 2007 to store and manage contracts with vendors.
Discussion boards Use a discussion board to provide a central place to record and store team discussions. The format of a discussion board is similar to an Internet news group. If your administrator has enabled lists on your site to receive e-mail, discussion boards can store e-mail discussions from most common e-mail programs. For example, you can create a discussion board for your organization's new product release. If you are using an e-mail program that is compatible with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, you can view and update your discussion board while working in the other program.
Issue tracking Use an issue-tracking list to store information about specific issues, such as support issues, and track their progress. You can assign issues, categorize them, and relate issues to each other. For example, you can create an issue-tracking list to manage customer service problems and solutions. You can also comment on issues each time you edit them, creating a history of comments without altering the previous comments about the issue. For example, a customer service representative can record each step taken to resolve a problem and the results.
Links Use a links list as a central location for links to the Web, your company's intranet, and other resources. For example, you might create a list of links to your customers' Web sites.
Project tasks To store information that is similar to a task list (see below) but also provide a visual or Gantt view with progress bars, use a project task list. You can track the status and percentage complete as a task moves toward completion. If you are using an e-mail or task management program that is compatible with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, you can view and update your project tasks from your SharePoint site in your other program. For example, you can create a task list on your SharePoint site to identify and assign the work to create a training manual; then you can track your organization's progress from Office Outlook 2007.
Survey To collect and compile feedback, such as an employee satisfaction survey or a quiz, use a survey. You can design your questions and answers in several different ways and see an overview of the feedback. You can add page breaks to control the look of your survey, and you can specify branching logic to control which questions are displayed based on the users' responses. If you have a spreadsheet or database program installed that is compatible with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 or Windows SharePoint Services 2.0, you can export your results to further analyze them.
Tasks Use a task list to track information about projects and other to-do events for your group. You can assign tasks to people, as well as track the status and percentage complete as a task moves toward completion. If you are using an e-mail or task management program that is compatible with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, you can view and update your tasks from your SharePoint site in your other program. For example, you can create a task list for your organization's budget process, and then view and update it in Office Outlook 2007 along with your other Outlook tasks.
In Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, lists take advantage of the new content types and column template capabilities. Lists also rely on the same underlying architecture as document libraries, and so they include features such as versioning, check in and check out, approval, and workflow, plus Information Rights Management (IRM) control over attached files. Before finalizing the plan for your lists, review the information about content types and document libraries. For more information, see Plan content types (Windows SharePoint Services) and Plan document libraries (Windows SharePoint Services).
About working with lists
You can customize and add items to the included lists above, create additional lists from the list templates that are already available, and create custom lists with just the settings and columns that you choose.
You can view a list in several different ways. For example, you can provide a view on one page of all tasks and a view on another page of just the tasks that are due today. You can also use folders to organize your list items. For example, you can view just the current events from a calendar on a home page and create a visual view — similar to a wall calendar — on another page.
Folders and views are also very helpful if you are storing a large amount of data in a list. In general, it is difficult to display more than 1,000 items in a single view, so you can use folders and views to make the data in your lists easier to view and quicker to load. For more information about using folders and views to manage large lists, see the Manage lists and libraries with many items topic in the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Help system.
Do you have data in a spreadsheet that you want to use in a list on a Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 site? You can create a new list, including the columns and data, by importing a spreadsheet.
If you have database programs installed that are compatible with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, such as Microsoft Office Access 2007, and if your browser supports ActiveX® controls, you can integrate your list data with database tools such as queries, joins, and reports.
Lists can also be displayed in Web Parts on pages on your site. Web Parts are the building blocks of a Web site, and you can use them to add items directly from a list to a Web Part page. You can also open a list directly and work with it. For example, the default Announcements list appears in a Web Part on a new home page, but you can also click the title of the list to open and work with it on its own page. For more information about Web Parts, see the Customizing pages by using Web Parts section of the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Help system.
Plan for custom lists
Before you create a custom list to store or share information, take a few minutes to sketch out the structure of the list and decide what information you need and how best to display that information. Pay attention to how you expect users to add to and consume the data in your list, and try to optimize the list structure to help users get the information they need quickly.
Which field type will best display the information so users of the list can more easily consume that information?
Sometimes there are multiple column types that would seem to work for a particular data set, but that have different strengths or weaknesses when it comes to viewing the information. For example, suppose you are creating a sign-up list for staffing a booth at an event, and you want people to select a time slot. If you only want them to be able to select one time slot, you'd probably want to use a Choice field with either radio buttons or a drop-down list. However, you may want people to be able to sign up for several time slots, and you may want to be able to sort by time slots to find out who has signed up (so you can send reminders, for example). In this case, you'd want to use the Choice field with check boxes instead. Or, you could create multiple fields (one for each available time slot) and use the Yes/No field type, making it easy to sort and see at a glance if there is a time slot that's understaffed.
You may want to try out a few different combinations in a test list before creating the real one. On a test list, you can change the column types after you've created them — for example, changing from check boxes to a Yes/No box — and see how it looks. If you do that on your real list, you risk losing data, because in changing field types you might be changing from a field that supports multiple selections to one that does not.
Do you need a large number of a particular type of field in your list?
Some field types, such as Yes/No boxes, can only be used a limited number of times; in Windows SharePoint Services 2.0, most field types had a limit. However, in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, many more field types allow for nearly unlimited use. For more information about limits on field types within a list, see Plan for software boundaries (Windows SharePoint Services).
Which field type will be easiest for data entry?
Again, certain field types have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to data entry, and different views can help you optimize for data entry. For example, a Datasheet view can help you enter data very quickly — but be sure that you're choosing appropriate field types to work with a Datasheet view. A Choice field with check boxes takes longer to select in a Datasheet view than the other Choice fields or a Yes/No box.
What views of the data will people need?
Just as Datasheet views can speed up data entry, other views can speed up data retrieval. Would a Calendar view help your users grasp the information more quickly? Would a Gantt view help management get a quicker glimpse of a project's status? With a Standard view, do you need multiple views for different purposes (such as a rollup on status for a manager or a simplified view for your mobile users)? For more information about view types, see the Create or change a view topic in the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Help system.
Do you need to share information or columns between lists?
If you need to share information from another list, then you will need to know where the information is coming from and create a lookup field to pull in the appropriate data. If you need to share columns, create column types. For more information, see Plan content types (Windows SharePoint Services).
Using the Plan custom lists worksheet (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=75377&clcid=0x409), list each custom list you want to create and the site on which the list will be created. For each list, specify what columns to use and what field types (column types) to use for the information in each column.