Make the Most of Your SharePoint 2007 Wiki

On a normal day lately, I’ve been either migrating old 2003 sites to 2007, or finding ways to implement functionality that’s not exactly “out of the box” to accommodate various needs. This usually involves a few “related” lists, maybe some custom SPD workflow, and a DVWP or two. It’s fun! And then… I need to document what I’ve done for either the users to understand how to use it, and what to expect. Or more likely, for myself to refer to down the line when someone asks me to go back and support it 😉

Sure, you can use the SharePoint wiki as-is. It’s fine. It “works”. But I like to take it a step or two further. Here are some “extras” that I implement on most wikis that I create these days.

The first step: Automating a link back to “Home”
Technically, the first step is to empty out the contents of the “Home” page, delete the “How to Use This Wiki Library” page, THEN… automate the link back.

Go to the Library Settings and add a new Hyperlink field. I usually name this “Back To:” (or rather, to be extra diligent, I first name it “BackTo”, then go back and rename it to a nice name with spaces and symbols).

Next, open the site in SharePoint Designer (SPD) and create a new workflow for this wiki library. Set it to run on new item creation, and title it something like “Wiki Home Link”. Build a dynamic string with the contents:
https://sharepoint/path/to/wiki/Home.aspx, My-Wiki-Name-Home

Make sure that there’s a space after the comma!

For the final workflow step, update the current item’s “Back To:” field using the data in the string.

First step done*! Now any new page will automatically have a nice hyperlink back to the wiki’s home page. No need to remember to type [[Home]].

Next step: Create more metadata
If this is going to be more than a few pages, I like to create additional metadata. Categories, tags, etc., to help group, filter or sort.

Go to the wiki Library’s settings again. Add as many new columns as you prefer. I like:

  • Category: A predefined dropdown list. Required, 1 selection. For a “SharePoint HowTo Wiki” I would use options like “General HowTo”, “Extending SharePoint”, “Informational”, “Quick Tip”, etc.
  • Audience: Sometimes. Setup similarly to Category, but allow multiple selections. I use this when I have a lot of articles for different role types. Why would someone who’s only submitting content care to read an article about how to administer it? I would have options such as “Everyone”, “Project Owners”, “Power Users”, etc. Keep in mind that some pages are applicable to multiple user types.
  • Skill Level: Could be redundant with “Audience” – depending on what your content is and how you’re intending to use the wiki. I like to use “(1) Beginner”, “(2) Intermediate”, “(3) Advanced”.
  • Tags: A predefined dropdown menu, or lookup list (as you prefer) allowing multiple selections. This is helpful to be able to find all the wiki articles that are related to “Productivity” or “Permissions & Security” without having to fully read or understand the article title.

Step 2.5(ish):
Now that you have your metadata fields prepped, create some views to put them to use. I group all items (expanded) by Category for my default view. Then I have a similar view grouped by “Skill Level”. I also create views for “Recently Updated” (where “Modified” <= [Today-5]) and "New" items. Step 3.14…?
Now that you have the new fields created, new views to make use of the fields, let’s put it all to better use.

Go to the Home.aspx page and edit the page – using the Site Actions tab – not using the wiki rich text editor. Add the wiki Library’s web part to the available web part zone at the bottom of the wiki content. Title it “Table of Contents” and select the appropriate view to be displayed (I usually display the “grouped by category” view and remove the Modified/Modified By fields).

Upgrade Your TOC
Let’s make the Table of Contents even better!

Check out the Path to SharePoint blog’s Easy Tabs. This is where the additional views come in handy. Create a tab for each view to let the users decide how they would like to browse through the articles.

Finally, clean it up.
The down side to the SharePoint wiki pages is that you can’t customize the display of the fields on the page as you can with a SharePoint List item. Sure, you can rearrange them in the Library settings, but the wiki content will always remain at the top.

At this point I would open the Home.aspx page in SPD and remove the additional fields (*including the “Back To:” hyperlink field). It’ll customize that page, which I really don’t like to do unless really necessary. However, it’s just the one page in the Library.

In Summary
At this point, you should be good to go.

  • You have automated your “Home” link so your users can always quickly get back to the home page.
  • You should have a short “welcome” page with a nice, clean table of contents. No need to manually maintain the listing because the links to the pages are there as soon as you create the new page.
  • You’re providing the users with the ability to quickly find the content that’s relevant to them.
  • And you can still utilize the wiki functionality to quickly create/update articles, and provide links within the content as you always could.