Document Sets – Part 2

In part one of this two part post, we saw how to use Document Sets and what the out-of-the-box behaviour provides. In this post we’ll be looking at how to customise Document Sets to meet your specific business requirements.

Part one showed us that a Document Set is actually a content type we can add to a document library. Like any other content type, we can create our own content types based on the Document Set content type – this is the basis of starting to customise the way Document Sets behave.

In this example we’ll be creating a new Document Set content type to support one of our example business process – creating a SharePoint implementation plan. Like many other business processes, this process involves creating several different documents, each of which has its own template but they all relate to the same process – a perfect fit for a Document Set.

To begin with, let’s create a new content type that inherits from the Document Set content type:


Once created, you’ll notice a new content type setting option called ‘Document Set Options’, a quick look at the available options shows us that we can customise many aspects of this document set including the allowed content, default content, shared columns, welcome page columns and the welcome page layout. But before we begin, add a few custom columns to our new SharePoint Implementation Plan content type. I’ve added the following columns:


To start customising our document set, we’re going to define the allowed content that this document set supports. This is done by adding existing content types (that I’ve already defined) to the allowed content option. By leaving the existing ‘Document’ content type in place you’ll allow any document to be uploaded to the Document Set, whilst removing it ensures that only your business process specific content types are allowed inside the Document Set:


Next, we’re going to define the default content. This is done by adding content types to the default content option. For each content type added, a new item will automatically be added to the document set based on the document template you specify in the File Name option:


For those of you familiar with SharePoint you might be wondering why the document template is uploaded here and not pulled from the template specified by the content type. The answer is so that multiple documents of the same content type can be added to the Document Set, each with a different template.

Next, we’re going to add the custom columns we added earlier as Shared Columns. This will push the column definitions from the document set down to the documents it contains:


Additionally, we can show these columns on the Welcome Page by adding them to the Welcome Page Columns option:


Finally, we can customise the Welcome Page layout for this document set by click on the ‘Customize the Welcome Page’ option. For my custom Welcome Page, I’ve simply changed the image and added a content editor web part but you can alter the page as much as you like:


We’ve now configured our custom document set so now it’s time to use it. First, using the same process as part 1 of this post, our new custom document set content type needs to be associated with a document library. Once associated, new instances of our document set can be created from the New Document ribbon option:


During the document set creation process you’ll be asked the specific the properties or columns we added to the custom document set content type:


Finally, once created, our document set should contain an instance of each of the content types we added to the document set, the custom properties assigned to both the document set and each item it contains and our customised page layout:


I hope you enjoy configuring your own document sets and using the power they provide to support your own business process.


3 Responses to Document Sets – Part 2

  1. Brian – love the blog. I wanted to expand a bit upon document sets.

    Recently, we began scanning all legal documents into Sharepoint for document management, retention policies, and the ability to search. As with ANY Sharepoint project I work on, the users were having issues shifting from the idea of folders, to the idea of metadata. In particular, because the legal folks store all of their paper in manilla folders, they really wanted to do the same in Sharepoint.

    Enter the document set. I created a “Legal Portfolio” content type based on a document set. I then configured the types of content types that could be added to a Legal Portfolio.

    But then I had a bit of an epiphany! I added a workflow to the document library, so that upon the creation of a new FOLDER, that folder would be changed into a “Legal Portfolio” (as a document set is really just a folder under the hood). Now, whenever a user clicks “New Folder” in the document library, a Legal Portfolio is created. They THINK they’ve created a folder for hierarchical purposes, but they’re really getting all of the benefits of metadata 😉

  2. sarnst says:

    I really wish I could ammend the individual pages on doc sets. would be great for example to have a page with the docs set from a case and added information for that particulair case on the page.

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