Below is 6 tips I’ve put together where I’ve steered away from just listing the common features & benefits of Sharepoint Designer (SPD), but focussing on the little gold nuggets I’ve found in the product over the years of using it that directly solve some requirements that my customers have had.
Hopefully you find something you didn’t know & if you’re new to SPD, we’ve been running a free training session through MOSSIG to coincide with the announcement of SPD now also being a free download. This has been hugely popular so let us know if you want to see more of them.
Here’s my six tips (in no particular order)
1.) Grouping documents and list Items beyond 2 levels.
By default, you can only group list items and documents to 2 levels by using the built in views on a list or library. By using the dataview webpart in SPD, you can group as many levels as you like. Further to this, you can also control the look and feel of the grouping, so you’re not limited to just clicking on the + sign or even displaying the field name you’re grouping on.
2.) Bulk Check-in of Files.
A common problem is when someone had uploaded a swag of documents only to find they’re all (by default) checked out to them. Rather then resorting to individually checking in each document through the browser (very painful), know that in SPD you can select them all and bulk check in.
3.) Renaming a List or Library’s URL Path.
You can rename a list or library through the browser, but this doesn't rename the URL path along with it. SPD is you’re answer here – it can rename both.
4.) Displaying information from another SharePoint site
I should explain that a ‘site’ can be as simple as a subsite or another site within the same SharePoint site collection.
To set the scene, a common problem you’ll run into is how to show information that doesn’t exist on the same site. The news is a common scenario for an intranet, whereby you have a central news list (either a news centre or a top level announcements list) and you’d like to display that through many sites – like the department or team sites. You’ll know that when you look in the webpart gallery you’ll only find the lists and libraries that are on the current site.
Now there are some webparts which will roll up or down the items from other sites or you could use a simple RSS feed but these lack the control and display that you’d ultimately want. I’d recommend you again look at the Dataview webpart in SharePoint together with a little hidden link in the Data Source Library toolpane - ‘Connect to Another Library’.
If you click this link you can type in the URL of the other Sharepoint site you’d like and then you can see all it’s lists and libraries to import….
Very handy for the scenario I’ve mentioned but also for displaying information from 2 lists that you might have joined with a Lookup field…
5.) Customising Search Results
If you’re using MOSS or Search Server Express for WSS, then you’ll know that the out of the box search results page lacks some style. Essentially, this is just XSL, although its hard to customise the look and feel like you can with a Dataview.
Follow this post on how to use SPD with your search results to pretty them up.
6.) Enhanced Web Part Connections
If you’ve ever used WebPart connections in the browser you’ll know that you have to display the field that you’re filtering on. This isn’t always ideal, and through SPD and those lovely dataviews again, you don’t need to display the field. You can also do away with the ‘Radiobutton’ selection as SPD will let you customise that too.