Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Improving the Hyperlink / Picture Column for Contributors

A recent article by Richard Harbridge, Powerful Columns You Probably Didn’t Know About, gave me an idea for improving my contributor's experience in linking to documents within lists in SharePoint MOSS 2007.

As it is right now, my contributor opens a new list item form, clicks attach and proceeds to fill out the form. When she gets gets to the form field, which is a "picture or hyperlink" column, it is a challenge to add the hyperlink to the attached document.
Since this is a new item, the path to the attachment is pointing to the local path of the document - so that won't work.  She could save the item, then edit the item at which point the path is correctly available by either clicking on the link to the attachment and pasting it from the browser address bar or right clicking and viewing the properties of the attachment.  None of that is very intuitive or seamless for the end user.

Here's the current columns in her list.  There are three columns that could have a need for the contributor to add a hyperlink to a document.
This is the "View Presentation" column 
Following Richard's advice, my solution was to create two new site columns.

The multiple lines of text columns will be replaced with a column type of "Full HTML Content with Formatting and Constraints for Publishing".  The Hyperlink or Picture column will be replaced with a column type of "Hyperlink with Formatting and Constraints for Publishing".

With these new site columns, when my contributor needs to type text and include a hyperlink, she can browse to the document.  

She has a much easier time adding a hyperlink to her document by browsing rather than trying to copy/paste the link pointing to a list attachment.

The browse dialog box allows the contributor to upload the document if it doesn't already exist.  It places the item here, /Presentations/Documents/Forms/AllItems.aspx, rather than in the list as an attachment.  In my environment, that is not a problem and will also make it easier to replace a document if that was needed.

I wish I had known about these publishing columns available to new site columns and used them rather than the standard list columns.  It is going to take me a while to retro-fit several of my lists with these site columns, but in the long run, it is an improvement for both my contributor and me.
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