SharePoint lists... did you know?!

I use SharePoint a lot... as a developer. Ok, our intranet runs on SharePoint, and I know my way around as a user (I did build a large part of it) but most of the time I REALLYwork with SharePoint I'm diving in the object model, programming against it. A few days ago I was scoring use-cases together with collegue developers for a huge SharePoint implementation for a customer. In those use-cases there was a description of some sorting functionality in a list that we thought would take a long time to implement. We called in the analist who wrote the use-case to blame him for writing way to difficult use-cases, and he looked at us as if we were really stupid. And he was right.

As a developer you sometimes forget to look at the functionality that is available just out of the box. One of those things is the standard functionality that is available in the SharePoint lists. Most people knowledgable of SharePoint will think: what is your point? Didn't you know this? Why do you bother me with this: read the f*cking manual. For those other people who forgot to read the manual, I would like to enumerate some things about lists that are "out of the ordinary".

Did you know that:

  • Lists based on the "Links" list have a "Change Order" option in the menu bar of it's views that allow you to reorder the list items
  • Lists based on "Tasks" and "Issues" have an "Assign to:" field that is a lookup to users in the UserInfo list for the web the list is on. This list contains all users that ever visited the list. What does this mean:
    • Users who did not visit the web yet are not in the list
    • Users who ever visited the web site, but whom's account is now removed is still in the list (Should be like this: task/issue can be assigned to user that is now gone, if you edit the task/issue to change something, the user shouls still be in the list, otherwise it must always be reassigned on edit.)
    • System accounts that crawl the list are in the list (we filter those out using the MacawSharePointSkinner)
  • Lists based on "Issues" have an option to sent the "Assigned To" person a notification e-mail (General Settintgs ->Email Notification) on changed item or when ownership is assigned.
  • Lists based on "Issues" have a "View reports" action with reports to track issue trends
  • Lists based on "Contacts" have "Export Contact" functionality in the menu of an entry that created a vcard file
  • Lists based on "Contacts" can "link to Outlook", this creates a read-only contacts list in outlook, with in each item a link to update the contact. This list in outlook stays up to date automatically
  • Lists based on "Contacts" can import contacts from the address book
  • Lists based on "Events" can "link to Outlook", this creates a read-only calendar in outlook, with in each item a link to update the event. This list in outlook stays up to date automatically
  • Lists based on "Discussion" support threading on items, and that this list sucks for discussions (in my opinion). We rewrote the new/edit/view pages to se things like the thread you are replying on, the complete thread of a single discussion item, see the newest discussion thread first. This makes it usable.
  • List items can have multiple files attached
  • There are no events available on lists, only on libraries. When I asked Mike Fitzmaurice about this on the PDC 2003 he answered that it was due to lack of time. There was a big launching customer who needed events on libraries, so this was implemented.

All this functionality is somewhere available in the list definitions, so if you define your own template you can combine all this functionality!!

Maybe I will write some more on the libraries (Forms/Documents/Pictures) in the future. Who knows...

Are there any other hidden gems out there that is good to know about... let me know in a response on this post.


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