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Enterprise content types and managed metadata

Metadata and taxonomies have grown-up! SharePoint 2010 now has an enterprise control, management and usage of metadata, taxonomies, and folksonomies.

Before delving further into this, it's worth discussing the value of all this! Improved metadata and content type management is important to making it easier for end-users to add relevant and accurate metadata. We're asking our end-users to tag documents, records, blogs, wikis, lists, etc. because it serves the enterprise need for improved content management, search, etc. We MUST make it easy for them to do this (and also educate them as to the value for them).

There are several new features that enable these capabilities:

  • Content type syndication — this allows one, centrally managed content type store in an enterprise. Previously, content types were limited to site collections and hard to share between site collections
  • Published content types — Once a content type is updated in one of the central repositories, you can republish across the enterprise to drive consistency. Errors produced by the roll-out are visible at the enterprise and team site level.
  • Managed Metadata Service — this is a new central administration-level service (up there with the Search service, Excel service and People service) that is used to keep metadata central and consistent. When a metadata term is entered, the service kicks-in to see if it's a new term (in which case a new unique ID is assigned), if it exists (in which case it is linked to the existing term in the metadata hierarchy), or if it's ambiguous, the user is asked to be more specific.

Now that everything is tagged, how does this help us? The most obvious answer is that the content can now be retrieved (e.g. via search) based on that metadata. Another new feature in the SharePoint 2010 platform is metadata-driven navigation and filtering in document libraries. This is a very cool feature that allows the Team Site or document library owner to specify which column(s) the navigation is pivoted and/or filtered on.

In libraries with thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions or hundreds of millions of items, this is really important to being able to find content. There are some very clever new features that allow users to filter this volume of files in a meaningful, responsive manner.

More to follow in this brave, new metadata driven world...