Automatic metadata capture – i.e. recording metadata without prompting the user – is a very good thing. It increases user satisfaction with and adoption of a new SharePoint-based solution for managing documents and / or emails. Thanks to the automatic recording of metadata, there is no extra burden on the user when saving an email or a document, but the additional metadata does enable more efficient searching for documents and emails.
In this article you will see how Document Sets are a great way to implement automatic metadata recording. We take advantage of two standard SharePoint features:
- A document set can have its own metadata attributes
- These document set level attributes can be shared with the documents and emails that are stored in the document set. ‘Shared’ means that the attributes are automatically applied to the documents and emails as they are saved to the document set.
This screen shot of a MacroView Browse-mode tree shows a document library called Matters which contains 6 document sets.
Clicking on the Matters library in the MacroView tree displays the default view of the library, which is All Matters. This view shows the 6 document sets that are contained in the root of the library, and several metadata attributes that have been recorded for each document set.
The next screen shot shows the MacroView file list that displays when we click on the document set called 1001 Balanced Fund. The Matter Documents Emails view shows 7 files that are stored in this document set – 3 emails and 4 non-emails.
If we right-click on a file – e.g. GreatWayToManageCasesAndTheirDocuments.docx – and choose Properties, we see the metadata attributes that were prompted for as the document was saved.
The Details tab in this Properties dialog shows all the metadata attributes of this file, including the attributes that have been recorded automatically. As the next screen shots shows, the document set-level attributes Matter Managed By, Matter Name, Matter Status and Matter Type have all been ‘inherited’ from the document set level.
To implement our automatic metadata recording we need to use the Shared feature. To see this, we open the document library in the web browser UI and choose Library Settings, then click on the content type called Matter Document Set.
This shows the metadata attributes that have been defined for the document set.
Next we click Document Set Settings:
In the Shared area we see the document set-level attributes that we want to be applied automatically to each file that is stored in the document set.
Note that this sharing will only work if the document content type also contains the same columns as are being shared. It makes sense to set these columns to Hidden so that they are not prompted for as a document is being saved using that document content type.