November 13, 2011 - 5:48 PM
Of all the cool new features in SharePoint, as it relates to Enterprise Content Management, probably the best is the new Content Type Hub feature.
In the past managing content types was painful. The biggest problem is that for large deployments you could not really leverage the power of meta-data stored in Content Types across sites. In order to make sure you have continuity across your farm you had to manually re-create content types precisely the same way in various sites, or do some fun coding.
Now in 2010 you have the Content Type Hub / Syndication. This allows you to specify a centralized location for your content types. One place to manage, update, etc. This makes implementing retention schedules, unified met-data schemas, and leveraging the power of content types all the more effective.
That is the good news! The bad news? The content type hub has a lot of moving parts, so you need to plan. If you don’t plan, you can cause some serious damage. Here are some hints.
1.) Pick an isolated empty site collection to be the hub. For example /sites/ECMHub. This hub will not be accessed by anyone other then the people managing the content types.
2.) Plan your content types, before implementing your content types. The easiest way to do this is in Excel. If you have a retention schedule it’s even easier as content types will often follow the structure of your retention schedule.
3.) Don't publish too soon. With content type hub order of operations is important. You can certainly build out the information architecture of your farm while your build out the hub, but before you start uploading content make sure the hub is as complete as possible before you turn on the syndication services and start publishing across sites.
4.) DO NOT create content types in sites that will syndicate. This can be a very dangerous proposition. For example if you have a content type in the hub called ChrisDoc, and one you create for testing in a site that will syndicate from the hub, also called ChrisDoc. When you turn on syndication you will have a conflict, and likely never get the proper content type from the hub. That is the calmest of such conflicts, I wont tell you about the others because they are scary, messy, and damn hard to fix. Just be careful.
5.) When updating content types, once life is good with syndication, set a standard process to follow for all updates. For example indicate that it should be republished, and run the syndication timer job. Consistency is key. If issues arise the Consistency will help you isolate the problem content type.
I love this feature so much, but use it wisely or it will go from being the coolest SharePoint ECM feature to the most infuriating.
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