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Choose Web Parts from SharePoint 2010 Gallery

The SharePoint 2010 gallery contains more than 75 Web Parts as well as List View Web Parts created for any libraries/lists you've made. In addition, your company may create custom Web Parts or purchase them from third-party vendors.

Besides purchasing or creating additional Web Parts, your company may also choose to not supply you with every Web Part available. Companies may also modify some Web Parts, such as the Content Editor Web Part, to disallow certain styles or JavaScript content.

With so many choices, how do you decide which Web Part to use? Web Parts are either specialized or generalized in what they do. This list describes the set of the general Web Parts, along with what they do and when you might use them:

  • Content Rollup Web Parts: These include the RSS Viewer Web Part and the XML Viewer Web Part, which are useful for displaying RSS and XML, respectively. Because more and more content is available in RSS and XML formats, these Web Parts are especially useful. You use an XSL template to tell the Web Part how to display the RSS or XML content on your web page.

    Another very useful Web Part is the Data Form Web Part. Unfortunately, you can only access it with SharePoint Designer, but it’s extremely versatile; in fact, it’s often referred to as the Swiss Army Knife Web Part. If you need to do something custom (or even interesting) without writing custom code, you can do some very interesting things with the Data Form Web Part.

    Team sites with the publishing features enabled can take advantage of additional Content Rollup Web Parts, including the Content Query Web Part, which is similar to the Data Form Web Part but is accessible from the browser.

  • Filter Web Parts: These Web Parts provide numerous ways to filter the information displayed on the page. For example, you can add the Choice filter to a page and then connect it to a List View Web Part so that the list is filtered by the value selected by the user.

    Your filter options include filtering by the current user who’s visiting the page, date, good old-fashioned text values, or a query string. A query string is a value that you pass into the page by using a question mark, such as mypage.aspx?filter=somevalue.

  • Media and Content Web Parts: These Web Parts work well when your content needs are simple. Use the Media Web Part to display Windows Media Player on your web page. The Image Viewer Web Part lets you link to an image and display it on your page.

    If your company has Silverlight applications, they can be played using the Silverlight Web Part. The Content Editor Web Part is a perennial favorite because it allows you to enter almost any HTML, CSS, or JavaScript you want on your page.

    Some of these Web Parts, especially the Content Editor Web Part, can really make it difficult to manage a site’s content long-term. Imagine you have a team site with ten web pages. On each web page, you’ve placed three Content Editor Web Parts. That’s 30 individual components you have to touch every time you need to change content.

    Because of the long-term maintenance headaches, you might want to avoid the Content Editor Web Part. Instead, use publishing fields and Content Rollup Web Parts. These Web Parts allow you to manage your content in lists and libraries without touching each place their content is presented.

  • Search and Business Data Web Parts: Although these Web Parts may seem specialized, they are actually quite powerful. You can use the Search Web Parts to create a custom search results page that is scoped to the content you want to filter. The Business Data Web Parts allow you to display data from external data sources.

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