Alternative Ways to Generate a Navigation Menu

Webmasters and site visitors expect lots of ways to get to content. In SharePoint 2010, for example, rollup Web Parts are often used to provide the additional navigation options that you want to see inside your web pages, not just in the header and along the side.

One such Web Part, the Table of Contents Web Part, can be used to create a sitemap. A considered best practice is to provide a sitemap, and the Table of Contents Web Part dynamically generates it for you.

You can use a custom master page or page layout to control where the site’s navigation menu appears on the page. For example, if you want the current navigation on the right instead of the left, you can move it in the master page.

In many cases, however, people want more control over the site navigation than SharePoint allows. Publishing sites provide great options for dynamically displaying the navigation based on the site’s hierarchy. But what if you want to display two global navigation menus? What if you want to display navigation from a list?

Here are several options available:

  • Use a rollup Web Part, such as a Content Query Web Part or Data Form Web Part. These Web Parts can be used to query lists and libraries and present the results any way you want. You can effectively create your own navigation menu using this option. These Web Parts work fine in a master page or page layouts.

  • Manually enter your navigation options in the master page or page layout. Why isn’t there a place in SharePoint to enter your footer navigation items? Most people enter those items directly in the master page because they usually don’t change very often.

  • Use an XML file to drive your navigation menu. This approach can use SharePoint’s standard navigation menu, AspMenu, to display navigation items using an XML file as a data source.

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