THE LIQUID NITROGEN OF SHAREPOINT in Font

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CHAPTER 8 THE LIQUID NITROGEN OF SHAREPOINT
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Note Until now I have avoided explaining what is already adequately explained in other books or widely known. Content types are so cool I just have to explain how they work, even if that includes some wellknown stuff.
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List vs. Site Content Types
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There is one very important thing that you must understand. If you do not, pain will mark your advanced content type experience, and you do not want that. To explain what this means, I need to take a quick trip to the future (in other words, jump ahead to a topic covered later in the chapter) and explain that content type inheritance is based on the content type ID. To inherit from a content type, you just add a formatted value to the content type ID from which you will inherit. For instance, the Document content type (0x0101) inherits from the Item content type (0x01). The same applies to folders (0x0120). We will look deeper into inheritance later in the chapter, but for now this is all you need to know. Based on this, it is logical to assume that when you add a content type, such as Item, to a list, the content type would have ID 0x01, right Well, take a look at what SharePoint Manager thinks see Figure 8-1.
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Figure 8-1. Not exactly what you d expect So, what is going on here When you add a content type to a list, you are actually adding a copy of the content type to the list. This introduces several issues and can cause problems if you do not realize that this is happening. Or rather, it can cause opportunities, if you are the glass is half full kind of person like me.
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CHAPTER 8 THE LIQUID NITROGEN OF SHAREPOINT
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The effect of this copying is that you are in fact creating a separate content type that can be manipulated independently from the source. This is actually an absolute requirement if content types are going to be any good. Think of the basic Item content type, which you use for every list you create. If you were to modify the Title field of the content type of a single list, you would in effect modify every Item content type, which would be bad. Copying the source content type to the list prevents this and allows you to modify a single content type instance rather affect the whole site collection. Check out the following exercise if you want to investigate this for yourself: 1. Start with your Team Site lab, and create a new list. I ve called mine testlist. 2. On the List Settings page of your new list, go to Advanced Settings, and allow the management of content types. 3. Back on the List Settings page, you now see that both the Item and Folder content types have been added. Actually, they ve been there all along, but now you see them in the interface. 4. Click the Item content type, and change the name of the content type; I ve used Testlist Item. 5. Verify that your change has taken effect.
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At this point, you might think that since you updated the name of the Item content type, the changes should be reflected wherever the Item content type is used. However, if you create a new list by following steps 1 3, you will see that the new list will get the original name of Item on the content type. The same thing would have happened even if you had created both lists before changing the name.
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CHAPTER 8 THE LIQUID NITROGEN OF SHAREPOINT
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So, if you want to change all the Item content types, how would you do that Simple! The source Item content type is a site content type, meaning that you need to modify it from the site settings. In the Galleries column of the Site Settings page, you will find site content types. If you want to modify every instance of a content type, this is where you would go. There are also some things to know about site content types. Again, confusion will be certain if you don t get these seemingly minor concepts, so, please, pay attention. The first thing to note is that site content types use direct references to site columns; you cannot add any columns except for site columns. When editing columns in a site content type, you are editing the site column. Thus, if you change the name of the Title column in the Item site content type, you will actually be changing every occurrence of the Title column throughout the site. That may not be what you want.
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Caution If you change the site column Title by mistake, you may be unable to change it back without
some extra work. Check out the sidebar Ouch! My Title Has Changed for one method of changing this back.
The second thing to note is that when you make changes to a site content type, you have the option of propagating changes to child content types. This choice is important because some changes may not easily be propagated again later. For instance, if you add a site column and do not propagate the changes to child content types, you need to remove and add the column again from the parent to be able to propagate again. This may or may not be what you want. You can use this to your advantage, for instance, when you want to differentiate which child content types inherit all or only some columns. If you are not aware of this, however, this feature may bite you in the butt. In fact, when you add columns through the object model, be prepared to do the propagation yourself; there is no automatic propagation from parent to child in code. To be honest, I like to control my own propagation. That way, I remain in complete control over what and how propagation works, and I can be much more granular than everything or nothing. We will look more into inheritance later, so for now, let s move on.
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