Being able to relate information across SharePoint lists and libraries is important but fraught with a number of gotchas. A key ingredient for this is the ability to create unique and distinctive ID’s that work well with calculated columns and lookups. CorasWorks has had our Workplace ID field in our Toolset and AppEngine products for some time. Now, to kick off the new year we are releasing this tool the SharePoint community for FREE as part of a new Building Block. The whole package is free to all CorasWorks customers and any SharePoint 2007 or WSS user (no additional CW software is required).
The Workplace ID Generator Building Block is available from the CorasWorks App Store (you do need to register to download it). It includes the Workplace ID field (a DLL in a WSP file). Once installed it adds a new field type that you can use to generate your ID’s. The Building Block also includes extensive documentation on the tool and examples of using it in relational scenarios. We have two scenarios supported by two sample templates: one for native SharePoint users and the other for CorasWorks users.
Some of the core gotchas that it addresses are:
- You can’t pad the numerical sequential ID that is native to SP or add static text
- If you do a lookup to an item and want the numerical ID then your lookup will only show the ID when selecting it (i.e., 1, 2, 3 – not very informative or useful)
- You can’t use the SP sequential ID in a calculated column
- You can’t use the Name field of a document library (so people have to use the Title which often isn’t filled in) in a calculated column
- A bunch of other limitations about what you’d want in your item ID’s
The Workplace ID field allows you to create ID’s that have the following 8 elements that can be used in any combination:
- Numerical ID’s with padding – such as 012, 013
- Static text – such as DOC012, DOC013
- Alphabetical sequencing – such as DOC012AD, DOC013AE
- Date – such as 05-12-2010 (supporting date functions)
- Day of Year – such as 035, 036
- Field value – such as picking up the value in a Customer field or including the use of a document name (!!)
- List ID – use the GUID for the list in an ID to make it really unique system wide
- Site ID – use the GUID for the site in an ID to make it really unique system wide
The Workplace ID Generator field plays nicely with calculated columns and lookups to give you the ability to create useful relations between information. The sample templates provide working examples of a set of related information. If you are a CW customer, I recommend that you also download the Idea Hub from Future Structure. It is a free app that leverages the Workplace ID to allow you to create and relate more than 10 lists and libraries to each Idea in the hub so that you can see everything related to an Idea in a single view.
Enjoy and have a great 2010!