I often get questioned on how Reusable Content works in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 so I figured I would put together a quick little post to explain.
On the top level site of a Collaboration Portal publishing site, which is the site many of us use as a starting point for a Corporate Intranet, there is a list called Reusable Content.
From this list you can create list items that contain text that you can later insert into portal pages via the Publishing Content control. So the next question you might have is, why would I want to do that? The goal of reusable content really can be narrowed down to two main scenarios:
- You may have text within your organization that is very standardized and should never change. Therefore whenever someone displays it on the portal, it should always look exactly the same. This might be a corporate mission statement, an executive bio, product description, corporate policy etc… This is also typically content that would be displayed in multiple locations so the goal would to minimize efforts associated with maintenance. Using the reusable content feature of MOSS 2007, the content owner can update the text or display of this content in a single list and it would push all changes out to each place in the portal where the content is displayed.
- You may also have text that serves more as a template to demonstrate to portal managers how content should be formatted. Perhaps it is a welcome message to a divisional portal homepage or boilerplate description text for a product that will act as a starting point for more defined and relevant information. In this case, the goal is to have a text snippet or blurb that a site manager can insert onto their page and then modify to suit their specific needs. By having the snippet of starting text, you can help kickstart their content creation efforts and minimize the time it will take for someone to add content to the page.
So to get started with either of the above scenarios, you need to start by going to the Reusable Content list on the top level site of your publishing site collection. You can get there by select View All Site Content from the Quick Launch of your top level site’s home page. This will take you to the content listing page where you can then select your Reusable Content list.
From this list, you can select to create either an entry that is full rich HTML or simple standard text. For this example, let’s select HTML.
You can then proceed to create a new item in the list containing whatever content you wish to display. In this case, I have chosen to create a short snippet dedicated to displaying the bio of a very important individual in our organization. I want to display this bio in multiple locations in our portal so therefore I am selecting automatic update so that whenever I need to make a change, I can do it from the list and it will automatically update all pages that contain this information. If I did not select the automatic update option, I would have the ability to edit the text directly from whatever page I added it to.
When I am finished with my entry, I select OK and notice that the item now appears in my list. I can then go to any publishing page in the portal with the publishing HTML content control and add the reference to my Executive Bio. When you edit a publishing page and select inside a HTML content control, you will see the following toolbar appear. From this toolbar you can select the reusable content icon that is shown below.
When you select the reusable content icon, a new window will appear asking you to select which piece of content you would like to insert. In my example, I only have the one item but over time you could actually end up with many entries in this list. Therefore you may want to consider proper categorization and classification of these items to support custom views of this list to make selection easier for either yourself or your portal content managers.
Once you select your content item and click the OK button, it will be dropped into your page exactly as seen on the preview.
You will notice that if you selected the Automatic Update option, you will not be able to edit the content once it has been added to page. You will instead be required to return to your reusable content list to make an update.