Planning Your Custom SharePoint 2016 App - dummies

Planning Your Custom SharePoint 2016 App

By Rosemarie Withee, Ken Withee

Before you dive in to creating your custom SharePoint app, you should do some planning. Capturing information is nothing new. Ancient civilizations (millennia ago) used stone or clay tablets, pre-computer organizations (decades ago) used typewriters, and many organizations still use Excel. Often, the problem with data is not in collecting it but in sharing and aggregating it.

Excel does a great job with data aggregation but not such a great job with sharing. SharePoint is all about sharing (hence the name). A SharePoint app is a centralized container of data that is easy to manage and maintain. In addition, by the very nature of a centralized web portal, the data is easily shared and viewed by anyone in the organization with access.

Creating an app specifically for your data needs is important. You need to determine the columns of data you will capture and how the data will relate to each other. In addition, you need to determine which data will be valid and which should be rejected.

Planning a custom list is similar to starting a new spreadsheet in Excel or a table in Access. In all cases, a little up-front planning saves time in the long run. Plan ahead so you know what order you want the columns to be in and what options you want in drop-down lists.

Columns can also be called fields (for those used to database terminology). When these columns are used to describe files (usually documents in a Document Library app), they’re also referred to as metadata or properties (of the file).

One of the neat features about SharePoint is the ability to add columns to the predefined apps. The process for adding columns is the same in Library and List apps. However, in a Library app, your columns capture information about a file, such as its category or author. List apps generally are all data columns and are used for tracking and communication.