[Yet Another SharePoint Relief Series] If you know a little bit about SharePoint 2003 you probably are aware of the fact that you can add custom columns to a SharePoint List or a Document Library. For example you can add an Importance column to a Document Library so each document in that library can have an Importance value. Probably if you want to do this nicely, you create Choice column so users can select the value for the Importance field from a couple of predefined values (e.g. Important, Very Important …). So far so good, this works fine in SharePoint 2003. But suppose you would like to have this Importance column also in another Document Library or in another List. The only option that you have in SharePoint 2003 is to repeat the creation of the field for the other Lists or Libraries (including defining all the different Importance values). In SharePoint 2007 you can avoid this repetitive work by using a new feature called Site columns. When you navigate to the Site Settings of a site, you’ll see a link called Site columns.
Clicking this link will bring you to the Site Column Gallery. This gallery contains all the defined Site columns, as you can see there are a bunch of columns that you get out of the box. Because this list can get quite long, you can divide the Site columns into groups.
From this gallery you can also create a new Site column, by clicking the Create link. Creating a Site column works exactly the same as creating a column for a Document Library or List. In this example I’ve created the Importance column and I’ve put it into the YASR group. The Source of the column is identified as YASR1 which is the name of the site.
When you want to add the newly created site column either to a Document Library or List, you need to navigate to the Settings of the Library or List. In the Columns section you’ll find links to create a new column, or to add a column from existing site columns.
Selecting a site column is quite easy: the groups are listed in a drop down and it’s possible to add more than one column at the same time.
When you’ve added the column to a Document Library or List, the library or list will have the Imortance column right away, including all the settings that have been chosen for this column (e.g. different values). Of course it’s possible to add the same site column to multiple Document Libraries or Lists. That’s already quite nice functionality, don’t you think? It gets even better: just imagine that you’ve added the Importance field to a bunch of SharePoint 2003 lists and libraries (which involves doing some repetitive manual actions) and you realize that you forgot to add a Importance value (e.g. Critical). There was no other option for you to go to each SharePoint Library or List and to manually update the Importance field, so the new value was added. However in SharePoint 2007 Site columns, update a site column that you have added to libraries or lists already. When you make the update you can specify if you would like to update all the lists and libraries that make use of this site column, or not. Yet another Sharepoint relief!