Choosing the Right Web Part in SharePoint 2016 - dummies

Choosing the Right Web Part in SharePoint 2016

By Rosemarie Withee, Ken Withee

The SharePoint 2016 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. Conversely, your company may choose not to supply every Web Part in the upcoming list. 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. 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 in the list 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.

web parts
Web Part categories can contain third-party Web Parts.

The Web Part categories include the following:

  • Apps: These Web Parts display 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. For example, you can add Web Parts that provide links to older blogs, show blog notifications, or even provide tools for blog owners and administrators.
  • 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. For example, there are Web Parts to aggregate sites, query content, and search for content. In addition, this category contains Web Parts to view RSS and XML feeds. 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.
  • 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. 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. Another example would be adding a SharePoint List Filter Web Part to your page to only show certain items from a list. The actual list might include every product in your company, but you could add the Web Part to a department page and only show the products for that particular department.
  • 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 a retired Office product that was used to build forms. InfoPath is no longer included with Office 2016.
  • 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. 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. Rather than add all this custom HTML and CSS code into a Content Editor Web Part, it would be better to have a developer create a custom Web Part to solve your specific need and to add the custom Web Part to the SharePoint gallery.

  • 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. The PerformancePoint Services Site Collection feature must be enabled before the PerformancePoint category appears in the Web Parts gallery.
  • 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. You can use Web Parts for searching and displaying pages, pictures, popular items, tagged items, recently changed items, recommended items, videos, web pages, and wiki pages.
  • Social Collaboration: These Web Parts are designed for displaying social functionality on your web pages. You can add a number of social features to your pages such as contact details, Note Boards, site users, tag clouds, and user tasks. The Note Board Web Part is a particularly cool collaboration function. Dropping this Web Part on your page adds a Social Commenting box so that folks can add comments right inside your web page. Social commenting is part of SharePoint’s new social networking features.

In addition to the standard categories, you might also see custom or third-party categories.

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. That’s another reason you may not want to use the Content Editor Web Parts. 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. You can export your Web Part’s configuration using the Export on the Web Part’s menu.

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