Document Management With SharePoint - Part 3
Written By: Knox Cameron -- 8/24/2011 --
(2490) comments --
Categories: Design, Document Management, Features, Integration with other products , Programming and Customizations, SharePoint 2010, SharePoint Foundation 2010, Workflow
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Another way to get more information from SharePoint
You will have noticed from the screenshot of the library near the top of the
article that there is a Client:City column. Client is a lookup to a Clients
list. When the user selects a client, SharePoint fills in the Client column with
the title of the client and also the Client:City column with the city of the
client from the Clients list. This kind of additional lookup is new in
SharePoint 2010, and is very useful as a way of showing more information from
another list. However, unfortunately it is not provided as property in Office on
This is a shame, because there are scenarios where this could be very useful.
For example, let's say the Clients list included the client's address. We could
then have Word set up so that when you select the client for the document, the
client's address would be automatically filled in.
SharePoint calculated fields are great for classifying documents using rules
based on values in other columns. However, they also are not available as Quick
Parts in Word.
In part 1, we also included the consultant picture in a view by setting an
option on the column in the list. However, this picture ended up in every view
that included that column. We found a way to remove it from a view using
SharePoint Designer, but that particular customization then causes an error if
you ever need to change that view again in the browser. If that customized view
is the default view of the library, that same error surfaces with other
activities that try to customize the default view such as creating a column or
running a new workflow.
So what approach can we use to get around these issues? Enter workflows.
A workflow can go and get the client's city (and address and other
information) from the other list and put it into a normal column that you can
use in Word.
A workflow can act to set a value based on rules like a calculated column does,
but do it to a normal column which you can reference in Word.
And a workflow can go and get the consultant's picture or other information
into a separate column, which you can then easily include or exclude as required
Let's create a "Quick Step" workflow which will be available
on the toolbar in the library in SharePoint. First, we will get this workflow to retrieve the
city for the selected client and put it into another column in the library.
- For production use, you could have a workflow that runs automatically
whenever a document is changed, to save the user having to select the Quick
- A limitation of using workflows is that the information will not be
available in Word until the document has been saved into SharePoint for the
first time and the workflow has been run.
Let's create a workflow to do this lookup in a fresh document library. Go to Site Actions
View All Site Content. Select Create, then select Document Library. Call the
library "Workflow demo" and select Create.
In the new document library, we will create two columns. The first will be a
simple lookup to the Clients list. Select the Library tab in the ribbon and
select Create Column. Name the column "Client", type Lookup, description "Select
the client for which this document is prepared". Select to get information from
the Clients list using the Title field.
Select OK. Now create a column in the document library to hold the client
city. Name the column "ClientCity", type Single line
of text, description "Use the Lookup City quick steps to fill in this
Select OK to create the column.
To create the Quick Step workflow, select New Quick Step in the Customize
Library group on the Library tab of the ribbon.
This will launch SharePoint Designer (SPD) on your local computer, so the
browser may give you a security warning. SPD will then display a form for you to
enter information about the workflow. Leave the option "Start a new workflow"
selected, and enter the button label "Lookup City".
SharePoint Designer requires you to have an image to use for the button in
the ribbon. Ideally this should be 32X32 pixels in size. I am going to cheat and
use one of the built-in images that comes with SharePoint. On the server, they
are located in the "C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server
Extensions\14\TEMPLATE\IMAGES" directory, but from the point of view of the
browser they are in the site in the path "_layouts/images". You can't use the
Browse button in SPD to find them, so you will have to manually select one on
the server and type its name into the dialog with the browser path. In this
case, I am using a server image called "ctom32.png".
Select OK to create the Quick Step button and associated workflow.
SPD will now take you into the workflow designer.
This workflow needs to find the relevant information from the related list,
then put it into the column we created ready for it in this list. You can do
this in a single step, although it's a complicated one!
From the Action drop down in the ribbon, select Set Field in Current Item.
SPD will fill this into the workflow designer, with underlined placeholders for
"field" and "value".
Click on the placeholder for field. From the drop down, select the column we
created for this purpose "ClientCity".
Now click on the placeholder for value. The placeholder turns into an entry
field, with two buttons next to it: an ellipsis (three dots), and a function sign
Select the function sign button.
(This is where it gets a bit complicated!)
First, SPD wants to know where
the data is coming from (the Data source), and what column to retrieve. The Data
source drop down shows various workflow-related options (such as current item and
workflow variable), then lists the other lists in the site. Scroll down and
select the Clients list as the Data source. As soon as you do, the dialog will
expand with more options.
The second drop down "Field from source" will now show the fields in that
list. Select the City field as the field you want to retrieve.
We now need to tell the workflow how to pick which entry in the clients list
it should be using to find the city. To do this, we will use the lookup field in the document
library that points to an entry in the clients list.
Lookup fields store both the ID of the item to which they are pointing and
the text value. The ID is the best thing to use, because it is simple and
guaranteed to be unique. So we will tell the workflow to find the entry in the
clients list which has an ID which matches the ID stored in the Clients lookup column
for the current document (item) in the
Under the Find the List Item heading, click the drop down for Field. Select the field "ID", because this is the
column in the Clients list we are matching. For the Value, click the function
button next to the entry field. Another dialog pops up called "Lookup for
Integer". This is because SPD knows that ID is an integer, so we should be
selecting something that returns an integer.
Leave "Current Item" selected as the data source and select the field Client.
For Return field as, select "Lookup Id (as Integer)".
Select OK. This now completes the lookup dialog.
Select OK to save the lookup information. After all that, the completed
workflow step looks deceptively simple!
Click the Publish button in the ribbon to both save and publish the workflow.
(When you save a workflow, it is like saving a draft. To run the workflow, it
must be published.)
Go back to the document library, but leave SPD open with the workflow so we
can add more steps to it later on. Upload a test document. When
you are prompted for metadata, select a client, but don't enter anything for the
Back in the library, select the check box next to the new document in the list. On
the Documents tab in the ribbon, you should see the new Lookup City quick step.
(If you don't, refresh the browser and try again.)
Let's try running it! Click the Lookup City button. A workflow initiation
form is displayed.
If we were building a more elaborate workflow, we could use this form to ask
the user for information to use in the workflow. Click Start to launch the
workflow on the selected document.
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