Amnesia Problem: Multiple Content Types on Libraries
Update Oct 30 2009: Here’s a solution to this problem.
There are many cases where you may want to have multiple content types associated with libraries. For example, a document library may be created for all documents do with a project. You may have different content types for project specifications, project plans etc. This can be easily done and is well documents. This results in multiple items displaying on the “New” menu, each of which can have different document templates and different meta data columns:
Now, when the user selects New + Content Type 2 the document template for Content Type 2 will be downloaded. So far, so good. Remember, though, that the document has not yet been created in the document library.
Once the document has been authored, the user will now save the document back to the document library, say with the name “document1.docx”. This is the point at which SharePoint suffers from amnesia. It has no idea that this document was created by the user selecting New + Content Type 2, and so when the document is saved SharePoint will use the default content type, which is “Content Type 1” in this case.
In many situations, this does not matter. However, when the content types have different meta data associated with them, or different workflows or policies, the document will have the wrong processing applied. This can have serious problems, especially when documents are passed to records management.
This problem can be mitigated to an extent by having required meta data fields – in this case the user will be prompted by the client application to provide values, and at this stage the user will have an opportunity to select the content type. Alternatively, separate document libraries will be required for each of the different content types – but this compromises your taxonomy.
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