Oct 22, 2009

Managing Metadata in SharePoint 2010

Obsolete: Refers to build 14.0.4006.1010 (beta 1)
SharePoint 2010 comes with a bunch of web 2.0 features, tags, tag clouds, rating, social bookmarking and enhanced blogs and wikis. What I really missed in SharePoint 2007 was tags and tag clouds. On the other hand this was a free space for developers like me, see Power Tag Cloud ;-) My experience with SharePoint 2003 already showed that text, dropdowns and lookup columns are to inflexible and people tend to over categorize in the conception stage.

Less is more!

This could lead to a confusing meta taxonomy. What we have learned from the web 2.0 wave in the last years is that tags and tag clouds are a great, simple and flexible way to organize information.
Now with SharePoint 2010 this and much, much more comes out of the box. Tagging becomes one of the most significant concepts for building enterprise taxonomies in SharePoint 2010.

What can be tagged?

  • List Items (Terms, Keywords, Social Tags)
  • Documents (Terms, Keywords, Social Tags)
  • Pages (Terms, Keywords, Social Tags)
  • External pages (Social Tags)

This means everything that has an URL can be social tagged. Do you know anything in the web that hasn’t one?

Talked enough, let’s play around with this stuff…

Tag a list item or a document:

Almost any built-in list has per default a “Managed Keywords” column. When you start to write you get a filtered list of suggestions. When you enter a tag that not exist it will be automatically added to the managed keywords list.

Tag and note a SharePoint page:

To tag a SharePoint page you can use the user’s context menu as shown above. Clicking “Tag or Note this Page” opens the following dialog.
imageYou can tag the page just like the list item before, but in addition you will get a list of suggested tags and you can mark them as private, so other user will not see them. At the bottom of the dialog you see a tag and note history. Furthermore you can add notes to the page (see in the second tab on the top).

How to tag an external page?

Since years I miss a tool from Microsoft to centrally manage bookmarks and I believe I’m not alone. To tag external pages you have first to add a link to the SharePoint tagging dialog to your browser’s favorites:
This adds the “Tags and Noteboard” bookmark (JavaScript) to your browsers favorites list. Now you tag an external page like this:
Tag external pageClicking to the “Tag and Noteboard” brings up the same dialog as in the previous example for a SharePoint page. You can tag and write notes as usual.
This looks similar to social bookmark tools like Diigo. But I miss some features like highlighting text, sticky notes, share bookmarks with a group, and a good browser plug-in. But hope this will come in later builds…

Tag Cloud Web Part

For sure you want to use your tags to navigate and filter content. For this reason there is now a tag cloud web part included in SharePoint 2010. I’m really a tag cloud fun :-)

My Tags and Notes

You can manage your tags globally as shown bellow.

Managing Enterprise Metadata

All you seen above is not enough for building an enterprise taxonomy. You don’t want let the users build your taxonomy on the fly with some tags, you want to predefine keywords and terms for your whole SharePoint farm. And what’s about multilingual terms and keywords? That’s why Microsoft added a something called “Term Store Management Tool”:
Here you can delete or create new tags and terms centrally for the whole farm. There is also support for multilingual terms! In my current build I’ve got the feeling this isn’t feature completed yet (there is already some documentation on MSDN), so I stop here and wait for further builds…

Although all this cool new web 2.0 features in SharePoint 2010, don’t forget that the most significant part is to get all this rocking is your company’s culture! Are you ready for culture 2.0?

UPDATE 26th Nov 09 (beta 2):
I've just seen in a screencast from Steffen Kraus (Microsoft Germany) some enhancements in newer builds:
  • support for hierachical tags (Taxonomy)
  • tag picker functionality
  • tag based hierachical navigation in a list (Metadata navigation)

There's a huge different between social tags (will be stored at the user profile) and Enterprise Keywords and Terms (will be stored in the item itself)

FAST Search can't use tag refinment for social tags - read more.


Jeff Long said...

How do you put meta data like "description" "title" "keywords" into a Sharepoint 2010 page?

Christian said...

Hi Jeff,
you can put in meta data like title, description to publishing pages e.g. Enterprise Wiki(Publishing Feature)
Bye, Christian

SharePointFrank said...

Please note that there is a tagging add-on available, that offers content-based suggestions to the users:


While manually tagging or categorizing items and documents in Microsoft SharePoint 2010 using the managed metadata / enterprise keyword column, the Tag Suggester for SharePoint 2010 automatically offers a set of appropriate content-based category or keyword suggestions, depending on the term store taxonomies and managed metadata, tag rules, item and document properties and metadata, information store context and textual document contents. By default SharePoint 2010 offers an auto-complete feature only. The Web Part is available as part of the Knowledge Management Suite for SharePoint 2010.


Thanks, SharePointFrank

Anonymous said...


I really liked your post here, I'm currently evaluating Sharepoint as a KM tool.

I have a simple question, but I've searched the answer during half my workday without any success (Sharepoint has to be one of the worst documented application).

My question is: We just installed Sharepoint Foundation 2010 and I don't see any of the cool tag features you just showed in your article (in fact, I can't find any tag functionnality for my wiki pages). Is this a feature of the regular Sharepoint Server 2010 and not available in Foundation ?

I've found countless comparisons charts, but they're all high level ones and don't specify this kind of information I'm looking for...


Christian said...

The social features are shipped with SharePoint Server 2010 Standard Edition.
Bye, Christian

Anonymous said...

great, sharepoint is finally catching up with what was being done in 2005 and before.

i hope that in 10 years time sharepoint will be able to do what other CMSs do today. that would be awsome.

ontologies are one of the things that come to mind.

Christian said...

You are right. SharePoint isn't the best CMS. But SharePoint is much more than a CMS. Sure, in every discipline they are special tools that are bettter. But in sum I believe it's one of the best informtaion management platforms/frameworks. Onthologies and the semantic web are really impressive, but also very difficult to use in practice. Though there's alreday an onthology add-on for SharePoint http://www.ontoprise.de/en/home/ - take a look.

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Unknown said...

Is it possible to tag content, such as titles and headers, people, within documents? At our law firm, we publish profile pages for our client matters and it would be nice to be able to filter content according to titles such as practice area, or team members, from within those pages...

Christian said...

Hi Ben, you can tag evertyhing that has an URL.

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