Document Sets – Part 1

For anyone who already uses SharePoint you’ll know it’s great for managing documents, but historically this has meant managing one document at a time rather than multiple documents at once. With the release of SharePoint 2010 and its Document Set feature, you can now work with collections of documents easily and quickly.

With Document Sets you can group documents together into a single entity. All documents in the Document Set share the same metadata and the entire Document Set can be versioned as a whole and downloaded as a single ZIP file that contains all the documents in the Document Set. You can also start workflows on the entire Document Set instead of individual workflows for each document.

Additionally, each document set contains a Welcome Page which displays the metadata that is shared by all the documents in the set as well as a list of all the documents the Document Set contains. Just like most other pages in SharePoint, you can customise the Welcome Page by adding your own content, web parts or change the layout to shape the Welcome Page to meet your business requirements.

In this two part post, we’ll first review how you get started with Document Sets. In part 2 of the post we’ll look at how to extend Document Sets to meet your specific business requirements – very cool (I mean adds real business value).

To get started using Document Sets, first the Document Sets feature needs to be activated. You can do this form Site Actions > Site Settings > Site Collection Features:


Once activated, a Document Set content type becomes available to you to be added to any document library where you want to start using Document Sets:


Once you’ve added the Document Set content type to your library, you can create a new document set from the Ribbon by selecting the New Document > Document Set option:


When you create a Document Set you’ll be prompted to provide a Name and optional description for the Document Set along with any metadata attributes or columns added to the document library. TIP: Add the Document Set content type to the library before adding any custom columns to the library to ensure the custom columns are applied to all content types supported by the library.

Once you’ve created your Document Set you can add documents to it just like a document library or folder by New Document or Upload Documents options from the Ribbon. You’re document set should look something like this:


Whilst inside your Document Set you can edit its content and add new documents as needed, however, when viewed from the document library, your Document Set appears as a single item than you can manipulate as single entity:


So far we’ve seen just the basics of Document Sets. What really, makes Document Set useful is when you start customising them to meet your business process. In part 2 of this post we’ll look at add to add default content, properties and customise the Welcome Page for process specific document sets.


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