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Metadata-based routing and storage planning (SharePoint Server 2010)

SharePoint 2010

Published: June 10, 2010

This article contains information to help IT Pros plan how to route and store content based on metadata using the Content Organizer Feature in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. For more general information about content routing and storage based on metadata, see Metadata-based routing and storage overview (SharePoint Server 2010).

In this article:

Planning for metadata-based routing and storage

One of the challenges facing users in many organizations is determining where a document that they have authored should go when it is saved. Even more challenging is how to apply additional properties or actions that should be performed on the document, such as more metadata tags, permissions, policies, and workflows.

SharePoint Server 2010 introduces the Content Organizer Feature. Once the Content Organizer Feature is activated for a site, the Content Organizer can be used to sort and then send content into different containers (sites, libraries, and folders) based on metadata. Those containers, or target locations, can have per-location settings on them that define additional properties that the content in them will inherit, such as additional metadata, permissions, policies, and workflows.

Using a content organizer, as few as one or two documents or collections of documents can be uploaded to the site. The content organizer settings and rules can then specify that those content items will be subjected to the rules and sent to a target location accordingly. Each site can use an individual instance of a content organizer, enabling you to create a network routing and storing content throughout multiple sites.

Although tagging content with metadata and using the content organizer can simplify how documents are routed and stored in your organization, it is very important that you take careful steps in planning how it can best serve your organization's needs. By using good planning and implementation, you can be more certain your content management solution best uses the SharePoint infrastructure while maximizing both system and user performance.

This article is provided with links to the Content Organizer settings worksheet and the Content Organizer rule worksheet available on Microsoft Download Center. Use the worksheets in combination with this article when planning how to configure settings and rules that will apply to content organized using a content organizer.

Download worksheets

Determine how content is submitted

How users submit content that will be organized using a content organizer will be an important factor in developing your content routing and storage solution. After a site administrator activates the Content Organizer Feature for a site and configures settings and rules, users can upload and have their documents automatically routed and sent to the correct location by using one of the following methods:

  • Upload content to a Drop-Off Library. A drop-Off library is created in every site in which the Content Organizer Feature is activated.

  • Use Save as from Word, Excel, and PowerPoint client applications.

  • Use Send To from other SharePoint sites manually or as part of a workflow, or as part of document’s life cycle or expiration.

  • Use the web service object model.

  • Use an E-mail drop-off zone. By using Exchange, content items can be e-mailed to the site.

Worksheet action: On the Content Organizer settings worksheet, record how content will be uploaded or submitted to the site.

Plan drop-off libraries

Plan content organizer settings

It is important for site administrators to carefully plan how the content organizer settings for their site will affect their overall metadata-based routing and storage solution. It is also important to test various configurations before you implement your solution live on a site. Information provided in this section is meant to help you determine and record how the content organizer settings in your site can be an effective part of your metadata-based content routing and storage solution.

The Content Organizer settings worksheet is provided to help you in planning settings for a site. Fill out a separate Content Organizer settings worksheet for each site that will have the Content Organizer Feature activated.

Content redirection

With the Redirect Users to the Drop Off Library setting, you can specify whether users are redirected to the drop-off library. If this setting is checked (default), then all uploads are automatically sent to their target location that is specified by the rules or are put in the drop-off library if no rules apply. If not selected, users can bypass rules and the drop-off library and upload documents to another library or folder.

A drop-off library is created in each site that has the Content Organizer Feature activated. By default, when content is submitted, the rules are applied to the document and it is then sent to its target location. If no rules apply, the item is then put in the drop-off library and an e-mail notification is sent to the rule managers. Rule managers can then apply additional metadata to those items to match a rule and allow the document to be sent to its target location. The drop-off library uses a timer job that specifies when to process items in the library. If a rule manager applies additional metadata to an item in the drop-off library, the rule will be applied and the item sent to its target location when the timer job is next run.

When a document is uploaded, the document properties window for the drop-off library is displayed. Then metadata properties can be selected and the submission process completed. After submitted, the content organizer rules are applied to send the document to its target location. The user is then shown a URL for the item. The URL includes a permalink created from the Document ID Feature, so that the URL that was provided will always link to the item even if it is moved again. If no rules are applied, the document is then put in the drop-off library and rule managers can be notified by e-mail.

A well designed metadata-based routing and storage solution uses content organizer rules to send to its intended target location every document that is submitted to a drop-off library. The drop-off library should then only include items submitted that did not match any rule. Documents that remain in the library enable rule managers to identify those that do not match any rule, and to then create a rule or require additional metadata tags that will apply.

When redirecting users to a drop-off library, it is important for those users to be aware of the specific drop-off library's purpose, and what they will see in the properties window will reflect the content types that are defined in the site gallery, and not necessarily those content types in the library they may be working in.

Worksheet action: On the Content Organizer settings worksheet, record whether users are redirected to the Drop-Off library.

Sending to another site

If this setting is checked, rules can be created that route uploads to the current site to be sent to another site that also has the Content Organizer Feature activated. When creating a new rule, in the rule configuration page, a drop-down list displays all the destination locations items can be sent to. In order to add a new destination that is not already included in the list, you must add the site configuration information by using the Configure Send To Connections page in Central Administration.

The list of document and record centers is maintained on a per web application basis. For example, if you have a Web site on port 80 and you want to add a new destination document library in a web application that is on port 81, you would add the URL to the library's Official File web service to the list of Send To Connections for the web application on port 80. The web service URL is entered in the URL-to-router edit box and takes the form http://myserver/mysubsite/_vti_bin/OfficialFile.asmx. You cannot add sites that do not have the Content Organizer feature activated.

Worksheet action: On the Content Organizer settings worksheet, record whether you will allow rules to specify another site as a target location.

Folder partitioning

In SharePoint Server 2010, there is no limit on the number of items a folder can contain. There is however a practical limit on the number of items a list view can display when viewing the contents of a folder: known as the List View Threshold, and by default, it is 5000 items. By using a content organizer, you can specify what happens when a folder exceeds a maximum specified number of items, effectively becoming too large to be useful in standard list views.

Using the Folder Partitioning setting in Content Organizer Settings, you can specify that subfolders should be created when the target location becomes too large. By default, this setting specifies to create new folders when the target location exceeds 2500 items. Each subfolder will inherit the properties of the target location which it was derived from. So, if for example, you have a folder named "Resumes" that has special permissions that are required to view and edit items in it, subfolders created from the Resumes folder will inherit those same permissions requirements.

It is important to be aware of your site or library's overall folder structure. The main purpose of folders is to organize content to match the expected functionality of the site or library. The Folder Partitioning setting should be considered carefully as part of an overall folder structure or even after a folder structure is established.

Worksheet action: On the Content Organizer settings worksheet, record whether to create subfolders when the number of items in the target location is exceeded, and the format of the folder name subfolders should be created by using folder partitioning.

Duplicate submissions

In any large organization there is always the possibility more than one document that has the same name and metadata is submitted to a site. By default, the content organizer will use SharePoint versioning to differentiate items with the same name if versioning is enabled in the document library. In Content Organizer Settings, you have two options for duplicate submissions. First, and by default, is to use SharePoint versioning. To use SharePoint versioning, versioning must be enabled for the document library. For more information about how to plan versioning, see Versioning, content approval, and check-out planning (SharePoint Server 2010). The second option is to specify that the Content Organizer will append unique characters to the end of the duplicate file names. If versioning is not enabled for a target library, the Content Organizer will append unique characters to duplicate submissions regardless of the setting selected. It is important to remember that the unique characters appended to the file name may not identify the item in any particular way. This could prevent users from correctly identifying the document that they want if there are too many documents that have the same name, but unique characters added to the name do not provide any meaningful form of identification.

Worksheet action: On the Content Organizer settings worksheet, record whether you want to use SharePoint versioning (default) or to append unique characters to the end of duplicate file names.

Preserve context

When this setting is checked, for documents that include original audit logs and properties are retained and stored with it. This can be important when you want to retain all of the historical information about the document, such as a document sent to a Record Center site. When the context is preserved, users can click on Compliance Details from the View Properties page of an item.

note Note:

Preserving context will affect storage. Audit data can quickly compound and occupy large amounts of space in a content database, especially if view auditing was turned on. For more information about how audit data may affect storage capacity, see Storage and SQL capacity planning and configuration.

Worksheet action: On the Content Organizer settings worksheet, record whether you want to save the original audit log and properties for documents submitted to this site.

Rule managers

You can specify users who can create and edit rules. Rule managers must have Manage Web Site permissions in order to create and edit rules. Rule managers must be familiar with your metadata term sets and terms in order to create rules that most effectively implement your metadata based routing and storage solution. It is also important for rule managers to determine the broader implications of rules they create, for example, it is important that all rule managers in your organization determine the correct action when a folder becomes too full.

In most cases, the person creating the rule will serve as the rule manager, however, in some circumstances, such as when you are creating a series of new rules, you may want to specify other rule managers that will be responsible for making sure the rule is meeting the goals originally intended. If you specify that rule managers are to be e-mailed when submissions do not match a rule, or when content was left in the drop-off library, you may want to specify several rule managers in-case the original rule manager is not available. Rule managers have permissions to edit all items in the drop-off library in order to enter missing or incorrect metadata necessary for a document to match a rule.

Worksheet action: On the Content Organizer settings worksheet, record users or groups that will act as rule managers for the site.

Plan content organizer rules

Content organizer rules are the heart of routing and storing content based on metadata. It is the conditions in the rules that determine whether the rule should be applied to an item, and then, if all conditions in the rule are true, the target location specifies where to send the item.

When creating rules, there are some important things to consider. For example, it might be best to create common rules; to create and send to a unique folder for every unique value of a particular metadata column. Create rules that address all possible submissions. You can do so by creating as few as one simple rule that applies to a particular content type, or by creating many rules that send in any number of complex ways. If the drop-off library contains many items that do not match any of the rules, it is important to verify those items to determine why no rules are being applied. This can occur if rules do not reflect the metadata properties available to users when tagging a document.

Information provided in this section is meant to help you plan rules that will be an effective part of your metadata-based routing and storage solution. The Content Organizer rule worksheet is provided to help in planning rules. Fill out a separate worksheet for each new rule that you plan to create.

Determine rule name

The rule name is used in site Content and File Plan reports. Determine a rule naming convention to make particular rules in reports and the Content Organizer Rules list more identifiable. If possible, the rule name should state the objective of the rule, the kinds of documents organized by the rule, and/or provide some distinction of the conditions of the rule.

Worksheet action: On the Content Organizer rule worksheet, record the rule name.

Determine rule status and priority

When creating a rule, you can specify if the rule is active or inactive. If a rule is active, you can specify a priority from 1, being the highest priority, to 9, being the lowest priority. If there is more than one rule that match the conditions, the rule with the highest priority will be applied first.

Worksheet action: On the Content Organizer rule worksheet, record the rule priority.

Determine content type

A rule must define at least one metadata property; the content type. From the content type, you can then select additional properties that will be used in the conditions for the rule. If a content type has an alternative name or alias in another site, you can specify it here. The content type groups available are those currently in the site collection or current site. When a document matches a rule by content type alias, the document will be organized by the content type of the rule, and not by the content type alias. Types available are those only for the selected content type group.

You can create a rule that will apply to documents of an unknown content type by selecting This content type has alternate names in other sites and typing * in Add alternate name.

Available content type groups and types (default)

Business Intelligence Content Organizer Digital Asset Document Document Set Page Layout Publishing Special Custom

Report

E-mail Submission

Audio

Basic Page

Document Set

Article Page

Page

Unknown Document Type

Web Page Part with Status List

Image

Document

Redirect Page

Page Layout

Rich Media Asset

Dublin Core Columns

Welcome Page

Publishing Master Page

Video

Form

Link to a Document

List View Style

Master Page

Picture

Web Part Page

Wiki Page

You can also create a rule that will apply to a custom content type that was derived from a default content type (in the table above) as the parent content type.

Worksheet action: On the Content Organizer rule worksheet, record the content type group, type, and alternate names in other sites.

Plan conditions

Rules are applied on property-based conditions. You can define up to 6 conditions in a single rule. All of the conditions must be true for the rule to be applied and the item sent to its target location. The properties that are available to be used in a condition are those associated with the content type. Because you must specify at least a content type, there will be at least one condition. When you specify a content type, but do not define any additional property-based conditions, the rule will organize all items based only on the content type.

When defining a condition, for the condition to be true, a value must be the product of a property and an operator. You cannot specify wildcards as a value for a condition. If a value does not match the condition, the rule will not be applied and the item will remain in the drop-off library.

Worksheet action: Use the Content Organizer Rule page to determine the properties available for the selected content type, and then on the Content Organizer rule worksheet, record conditions for the rule.

Plan the target location

Each rule must specify a target location where the items that match the rule will be sent. A target location can be another site, library, or folder. A rule can also specify that a new folder is created in the target location for each unique value of a particular property. When specifying another library, that library must include the content type specified in the rule.

You can specify a format for new folder names. By default, a new folder naming format is "%1 - %2", where %1 is replaced with the name of the property and %2 is replaced with the value of the property. For example, if you used the Report Status property and received a new item where the Report Status value is "Complete", it would create a folder named "Report Status - Complete". If there are many unique properties and many new folders will be created, make sure that you specify a format for the folder names that will make sense to users in your organization.

When choosing to create new folders for each unique property, it is important to consider how many items may populate each new folder. Consider creating folders based on a unique property when such grouping of items makes sense. Creating a new folder for each unique property when there may be hundreds or even thousands of unique properties may create a confusing and unnecessary number of folders that may be difficult to navigate in standard list views.

Worksheet action: On the Content Organizer rule worksheet, record the target location and whether a new folder is automatically created for each unique value of a property, and the format of the new folder name.

Plan target location properties

Once a content item is sent to its target location, new properties and settings that apply to all items in that location can be applied. For example, all items in a "Human Resources" library can have restricted view permissions. If you specify that new subfolders are created from the target location, those folders will inherit the properties of the parent target location. Additional properties and settings can be specified at the site level, in Site Settings, and at the library level, in Library Settings.

Additional properties

  • Permissions   By routing content to a target location based on metadata, you can specify a target location with unique permissions, effectively using metadata to apply permissions.

  • Versioning   By routing content to a target location based on metadata, that target location can specify a particular document version history (versioning).

  • Metadata   By routing content to a target location based on metadata, that target location can apply additional metadata and enterprise keywords.

  • Retention and content type policies   By routing content to a target location based on metadata, content in that target location can be subject to a retention policy, assuring that the content is saved.

  • Workflows   By routing content to a target location based on metadata, content in that target location can be subject to workflows.

Worksheet action: On the Content Organizer rule worksheet, record additional properties that will be applied at the target location.

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