In SharePoint, you can get a lot of mileage out of something as simple as a list. A SharePoint list is a collection of similar items, which may contain columns or fields that define the item data or metadata schema. Each item stored in a list shares the same schema.
Now you will be thinking how is a SharePoint List different from a SharePoint Library, right? Simple, in SharePoint lists, items are defined by metadata or the columns of a list with documents being attached to that metadata. In a SharePoint library, a document is the item with library metadata supporting the document.
Lists in SharePoint resemble database tables in structure and behavior. Lists support various field or data types, and can have triggers that react to list events such as creating, updating, or deleting items. In addition, lists can be configured to filter, sort, or group items based on item data or properties. SharePoint lists also support various methods of visualization, both in the display of data and in the editing or entry of item data.
Data querying in lists can be done with an XML- based query language schema called CAML query schema that offers basic querying operations such as filtering, sorting, and grouping of data. Lists in SharePoint are based on list templates, such as document libraries, calendars, contact lists, picture libraries, and others, that define the schema for new lists. You can create multiple lists based on a single list template. Workflows can also be attached to lists which will allow more complex behavior of lists and libraries.
Finally, lists can support content types, a new feature in version 3 of the SharePoint product range. Content types define a schema for items that are more independent from the lists in which they reside.
Creating SharePoint Lists
SharePoint lists are tables of data, much like Excel spreadsheets. However, lists can do a lot more than just store columns and rows of data—in fact, lists are like mini-applications in SharePoint.
Following steps can be used to create a SharePoint List:
o Create a list using one of the built-in templates
o Add columns to collect additional data and calculate values as required
o Create supporting lists for lookups and master lists
o Add views to display required reports
o Enable email, versioning, and item approval as required.
o Optionally customize the data entry forms.
o Save the final list as a template and deploy it to other site collections.
To create a list, start with what’s provided, customize, get approval, and deploy. Don’t skimp on the approval part of that process—it’s a lot harder to change lists once they are deployed. Get agreement that the prototype you’ve created meets the stated needs before you save it as a template and deploy it across multiple sites.
The order of columns on the form is quite important for users understanding your list. Spend a bit of time thinking about how users will have the information they are putting into your list organized and put your fields in that order. It’ll make your list easier to use and look more professional.
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