Getting Started With SharePoint

In this article, you will learn building no code solutions in SharePoint.

It is said that you shouldn’t write the code, until you have to write the code.

Whether you are a power user, a decision maker, an administrator or a developer, if you have a strong belief that you should not write any code unless it’s required, Office 365 Sites and SharePoint can make this dream a reality.

In order to make no code solutions in SharePoint, you need to understand some key concepts. In this post, I will walk you through the 6 basic tools, which you’ll need to understand to develop your own no code solution with SharePoint.

SharePoint

Defining SharePoint is a difficult thing to do. You can find many definitions for SharePoint on the internet, many of which were provided by Microsoft, but I would define it, as shown below.

A platform to present the business data, increase collaboration, manage the content and the business processes, which increases the productivity, while providing the users, which means to easily create their own solutions to the problems.

Web Application

According to the Microsoft Developer Network, “A SharePoint 2013 web application is composed of an Internet Information Services (IIS) website that acts as a logical unit for the site collections that you create.”

Creating a Web Application is the first step towards creating a site collection. Each Web Application is associated with an IIS Website, which allows you to give your Application; a unique domain name to help to protect it from cross-site scripting attacks.

During the process of creating a new Web Application, a new content database will also be created and the authentication, which is used to connect to the database will be defined. The authentication method that will be used by IIS (Internet Information Services) Website in SharePoint will also be defined during this time.

Please note that in Office 365 sites, you won’t find an option to create the Web Applications. Though these are hidden from the end users, you don’t have to worry because Microsoft is doing all the work for you at the back-end.

Site Collection

According to MSDN, “A site collection is made up of one top-level site and all sites below it”. In SharePoint, we can have different sites for different purposes, when we put all of our related sites together and we call it a site collection.

Suppose that we have a site collection for the different departments in a company. While there is a different site for each department, multiple departments can use same site. The departments can have the information related only to themselves on their sites and collaborate, where more than one department is provisioned to work.

This is just one example of a way that you can use sites to help your business. You can also have different sites for different processes i.e. purchase request, time sheets etc.

site column

Site columns are the reusable column definitions. You can use site columns across all your sites in a site collection, as long as it is contained on a root site. Site columns, which are created on the sub-sites will only be available on that particular sub-site and the child sub-sites of the sub-site. For this reason, it’s a best practice to create site columns on the root site, so that they will be available to all sub-sites, as required.
Simply, we can say that the site columns are the basic data types, which are used to represent the data in SharePoint.

There are many site column types, e.g. Single line of text, Multiple lines of text, Choice (menu to choose from) etc. You can use these types, according to the nature of the data.

Content type

Content types are the collection of the site columns, workflows and behaviors, which represents a different type of data in SharePoint lists or document libraries. Content types actually decide which SharePoint lists or document libraries are capable of performing certain actions which we can reuse, whenever we need.

There are many out-of-the-box content types, which are shipped with SharePoint; i.e. Item, Tasks, document etc., which you can extend to generate your own custom content type.

Lists

Lists are collection of items, columns, views and content types. Each item is a row in the list and each row of the list is known as list item, which consists of multiple columns.

The items in a list can be filtered, using a view. A single list can have multiple views. Views can be assigned to the different users with the the different sets of filters in place. In other words, you can control what items in your lists, each individual sees, which is based upon the needs of the individual.

There are many out-of-the-box list templates, which are shipped with SharePoint like documents, tasks, Site Pages etc.

what are Document libraries?

A document library is a special type of list, which can store the document and its information (Metadata). These types of lists can have multiple behaviors, which you can achieve by adding multiple content types to a single document library.

Whenever you create a site, SharePoint will add a default document library with the title “Shared Documents”, where you can upload, edit, delete and view your documents on the site.

Workflows

Workflows are the sets of instructions that occur in SharePoint during a certain event on a list or site. In other words, Workflows are the pre-programmed mini-applications, which are used to get the signatures, feedback or approvals for a plan or document and track the status of ongoing procedures. There are two types of Workflows i.e. SharePoint 2010 and 2013.

You can trigger workflow manually on item create or on item update. There are many workflows, which are available out of the box in SharePoint, which can be used to achieve the business processes.

For example, think of opening an account at a bank. You go to the bank, you submit the Application for an account, your Application goes through different bank internal processes according to the bank policy and eventually you are notified of the status of your request or you may need to submit some more documents. This is how approval workflow works in SharePoint.

Apart from out-of-the-box Workflows, you can create custom workflows, using SharePoint Designer. When a user needs a process, which is not a part of GUI in order to achieve that kind of functionality, we use workflows.