Lists for SharePoint Online Sites - dummies

Lists for SharePoint Online Sites

By Ken Withee, Jennifer Reed

SharePoint Online comes with a collection of standard lists and libraries. Microsoft has already taken the time to develop these in order to make your life as a developer easier, so you may as well use them. The following list introduces the standard SharePoint lists and provides brief descriptions:

  • Announcements: This list is for brief news items, quick status checks, and other quick-and-informative stuff.

  • Calendar: This calendar is strictly business — deadlines, meetings, scheduled events, and the like. You can synchronize the information on this calendar with Microsoft Outlook or other Microsoft-friendly programs.

  • Circulations: This list is for sending information around to team members via an e-mail notification; the list includes confirmation stamps, so members can indicate that they’ve seen what you wanted them to see. An example would be an important new company policy.

    You can use the Circulations list to track that everyone has read and accepted the policy. Note that in order to see this list template, you must have the Group Work Lists feature activated.

  • Contacts: If you’re a regular Outlook user, you may have developed a list of contacts. If you haven’t, here’s your chance to list the people relevant to your team (such as partners, customers, or public officials). You can synchronize the SharePoint Contacts list with Microsoft Outlook or other programs that play nice with Microsoft products.

  • Custom List: If you’re trying to develop a list but none of the standard list types does what you have in mind, you can start from scratch with a blank list and drop in the views and columns you want.

  • Custom List in Data Sheet View: Here’s a familiar twist on the blank list: SharePoint shows it as a spreadsheet, so you can set up a custom list as easily as you would in Excel, specifying views and columns as needed. Note that this list type requires an ActiveX control for list datasheets; fortunately, Microsoft Office provides such a control.

  • Discussion Board: If you’re a seasoned netizen from the heyday of the newsgroup, this list will be a familiar place for online discussions. Naturally, you want to keep the discussion businesslike, so this list type helps you manage those discussions (for example, you can require posts to be approved before everybody can see them).

  • External List: Use this list type to create a list of data identified as an External Content Type. An External Content Type is a term used to describe groupings of data that live outside of SharePoint. An example might be data that lives in a backend system, such as SAP.

  • Import Spreadsheet: If you have data contained in an existing spreadsheet (created in Excel or another Microsoft-compatible program) that you want to use in SharePoint, you can import it into a list of this type. You get the same columns and data as the original spreadsheet.

  • Issue Tracking: If you want to organize your project team’s responses to a problem associated with (say) an important project, this is the type of list you use to set priorities, assign tasks, and keep track of progress toward resolving the issue.

  • *Languages and Translation: SharePoint offers a Translation Management workflow that helps assign translation tasks. This list type is for creating a list of the languages used in those tasks — and of designated translators for each language.

  • Links: This list type helps you organize links. The user can consult a list of web pages and similar online resources — and simply click to go to any of them.

  • Microsoft IME Dictionary List: Create a Microsoft Input Method Editor (IME) dictionary list when you want to use data in a SharePoint list as a Microsoft IME dictionary. Microsoft IME is a system that allows you to enter characters, such as Japanese or Chinese, not found on your keyboard.

    When an application that supports these characters is running, a small virtual keyboard appears on your screen that allows you to enter the characters. The Microsoft IME Dictionary List allows you to store the various character values in SharePoint. Note that in order to see this list template, you must have the Group Work Lists feature activated.

  • Project Tasks: If you’re a veteran of Microsoft Project 2010 (especially if you have Project — or a compatible equivalent — running in your organization), this list type is probably familiar. It’s essentially a big to-do list organized as a Gantt Chart (which you can, in fact, open with Project): a place to track team or individual progress on tasks and keep your eye on allocated resources and deadlines.

  • Status List: This list type offers a big-picture perspective of a project’s status. It’s a place to display goals for (say) a project and show how close you are to reaching them.

  • Survey: This list type is for gathering information, specifically by crowd-sourcing. Here’s where you put a list of questions you want people to answer. A survey list helps you formulate your questions and can summarize the responses you get back. The responses to the survey are stored in the list and can then be analyzed, charted, or exported.

  • Tasks: This list type is essentially a to-do list for a team or individual.