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How to Choose the Right Web Part for SharePoint 2013

The SharePoint 2013 gallery contains more than 80 Web Parts, as well as List View Web Parts created for any Library or List-based apps that you’ve made. In addition, your company may create custom Web Parts or purchase them from third-party vendors.

Your company may purchase or create additional Web Parts. Companies may also modify some Web Parts, such as the Content Editor Web Part, to disallow certain styles or JavaScript content.

A constant source of confusion in SharePoint is that things aren’t always as you would expect. For example, you might read about a cool Web Part, but when you go to try it out, it’s nowhere to be found. There are a couple of reasons for this.

The first is that not all Web Parts are available for every edition of SharePoint (Foundation, Standard, and Enterprise). The second reason is that functionality is turned on and off with specific SharePoint features. For example, you might be looking for a Web Part that only becomes available when the related feature is activated for your site.

If you read about something and can’t seem to find it, your next step should be in figuring out which feature to activate to get what you’re looking for.

When you insert a Web Part onto your page, you’re presented with the Web Part Gallery. The Web Part Gallery organizes Web Parts into categories. The top category is always Apps. These are all of the apps you have added to your site. It also includes custom apps you have developed, such as a custom List or Library app.

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The Web Part categories include the following:

  • Apps: These Web Parts displays items from the List and Library apps on your site. You can use Views to filter, sort, and group the information presented in the Web Part.

  • Blog: This category includes Web Parts for working with blogs.

  • Business Data: The Business Data Web Parts allow you to display data from external data sources. This category includes Web Parts for displaying Excel and Visio documents in your web page.

  • Community: These Web Parts are designed for Community sites and include functionality for providing information about the community, joining the community, community membership details, and what’s happening information. In addition, there is a Tools Web Part for community owners and administrators.

  • Content Rollup: This category includes Web Parts for rolling up content from multiple sources.

  • Document Sets: These Web Parts display the content and properties of a Document Set. A Document Set is a grouping of documents in a Library app.

  • Filters: The filter Web Parts provide numerous ways to filter the information displayed on the page.

  • Forms: There are two Web Parts for displaying forms: the HTML Form Web Part and the InfoPath Form Web Part. An HTML form uses basic HTML code to show a form. InfoPath is an Office product designed for building forms with lots of integrated functionality. The InfoPath forms can be embedded in a web page using this Web Part.

  • Media and Content: 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.

  • PerformancePoint: PerformancePoint is a Business Intelligence platform designed for such specialties as Dashboards, Key Performance Indicators, and Scorecards. These Web Parts let you display PerformancePoint information in your web pages.

  • Search: 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.

  • Search-Driven Content: These Web Parts take search to a whole new level. Using these Web Parts, you can build a web page based on search results. This creates a very dynamic page that is constantly updated as content is added and removed from the site.

  • Social Collaboration: These Web Parts are designed for displaying social functionality on your web pages.

In addition to the standard categories, you might also see custom or third party categories. For example, Portal Integrators is a company that develops Web Parts for SharePoint. If your IT team has installed Portal Integrators Web Parts, then they will show up in a category called Portal Integrators.

Any configuration or content that you put inside a Web Part isn’t version controlled. In other words, each time you change the Web Part, you write over any previous configuration or content. Store your content in lists and libraries where the content is subject to version control and retention policies, rather than placing it directly in the web page.

Content that you place inside a Rich Content control on a wiki page is version controlled if versioning is enabled in your library.

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