In the last two posts, I have been exploring a simple, common usage model with Project Detail Pages that allow users to store centralized information in environments where not every project within Project Server 2010 may map to a specific project site. Some potential use cases for this functionality may include:
- Status reporting – or capturing the project narrative.
- Providing project links outside of the Project Server farm or to shared workspaces
In this post, I plan to further develop that concept with a centralized document repository. Why would you want to develop a centralized document repository? Perhaps the project approval document must be posted to the PM Information System before the project workspace is provisioned. Perhaps some projects will never have their own dedicated workspaces and will exist only as document libraries on a shared site.
In this example, I will walk through how to create a central repository for approval documents. Before going any further, I would strongly recommend reading this post on creating custom lists consuming PDP parameters within Project Server 2010.
As I developed this solution, my first thought was to create a document library, then add the ProjUID field to the document metadata. I’ve successfully done this with External Content Types (ECT) and Business Connectivity Services, but received feedback that the ECT solution was too “clicky” for some end users. (I’ll cover that as a potential solution in a future blog post.) The challenge I discovered is that SharePoint 2010 document libraries do not allow customization of the main form using InfoPath.
So I decided to go with an alternate approach. Instead of using a document library, I would just use an attachment-enabled list. Effectively that would deliver the same functionality as a document library and met all of my requirements. The only minor hiccup was my apparently erroneous understanding that list attachments are not indexed by the search engine. After a little research, I determined that this is somehow a commonly spread misunderstanding dating from SharePoint 2007. Either it’s always worked and folks didn’t realize this….or it started working with a patch somewhere. So let me set the record straight on this one….documents will be indexed within SharePoint even as attachments to list items.
To create the list, follow the same instructions as in the previous post, but create a custom list.
Add custom fields as appropriate. Here again, I add the ProjUID field.
Modify the InfoPath form. In this form, I add a default value to the Title, modify the Attachments label, delete all extraneous rows, and add a Submit button.
From there, I add it to a new PDP using the same technique as in the last post. The end result is an interface for loading and reviewing approval documents for each project.