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What’s new in SharePoint Designer 2010

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With SharePoint Designer 2010, you can build complete, rich, reusable, process-centric applications on the SharePoint platform that integrate external data. SharePoint Designer 2010 makes it possible to build composite applications by configuring or designing components such as data sources, lists, content types, views, forms, workflows, and external content types — all without writing any code. Further, SharePoint Designer 2010 now provides tools for all of the important components in a SharePoint solution: “You don’t have to leave SharePoint Designer to build your solution.”

In this article

Redesigned user interface


Views & forms

External content types & Business Connectivity Services

Control where & how people can use SharePoint Designer 2010

Redesigned user interface

The user interface of SharePoint Designer 2010 has been completely redesigned to “put the ‘SharePoint’ into SharePoint Designer.” Now all of the important components in a site or solution — lists and content types, views and forms, workflows, data sources and external content types, page layouts and master pages — are easy to find. And it’s easy to see how components are related to each other — for example, when you view the summary page for a list, you can easily see all of that list’s views, forms, workflows, content types, and custom actions.

File tab

When you start SharePoint Designer 2010, the new File tab makes it easy to get started. Here you can open existing sites or create new sites. You can also open pages or sites that you have recently worked with, and add new components such as lists and workflows to the current site.

Site summary page

Every site has a summary page where you can change settings or manage various aspects of your site. For example, you can now manage permissions directly from SharePoint Designer 2010. And like every summary page, the site summary page shows related components — for example, here you can easily view and navigate to all subsites in the current site.

Navigation pane

The Navigation pane makes it easy to find and navigate to all of the important components in a site that you use to build a solution. Whether you’re modeling your data and need to work with lists and content types, or whether you’re designing workflows to add the logic that “glues” your solution together, you can find the components you need in the Navigation pane.

Gallery pages

Gallery pages make it easy to find and edit any of the important components of your solution. In the Navigation pane, clicking any component will show you a gallery of all such components in the current site — for example, you can easily see all workflows or lists in the site. On a gallery page, just click any component to edit it.

Summary pages

A summary page gives you an all-up view or portal into all of the pieces that make up a component. For example, the summary page for a content type shows you the forms and workflows for that content type. The summary page for a list shows you the views, forms, content type, custom actions, and workflows for that list. From a summary page, you can edit the settings for that component — such as the name or permissions — or you can edit the component itself.

List & content type editors

With SharePoint Designer 2010, you can edit all of the important components that comprise a SharePoint solution — including lists and content types. You use lists and content types to model your data, so these components are often at the core of a solution. And now SharePoint Designer 2010 provides a full-page editor for both lists and content types. You can quickly edit the columns and settings of a list or content type in one place, without having to navigate between pages as in the browser.

Navigation bar

As you navigate through the components in a site, the Navigation bar can help you understand where you are in the site and how the various components are related to each other. The Navigation bar displays breadcrumbs that show where you are in the site hierarchy. There are also Forward and Backward buttons, a Recent Pages drop-down menu that shows your recent navigation history, and drop-down menus for each node that show all of the children for any page or component in the hierarchy.


The Ribbon will make you more efficient and productive in SharePoint Designer 2010 because the Ribbon surfaces all of the important features in the right context for what you’re working on. For example, if you’re working with a Data View in the page editor, contextual tabs appear on the Ribbon that provide all of the tools and options for working with Data Views: conditional formatting, filtering and sorting, adding or removing columns, asynchronous updates, and more are available with just a single click.

Zoom to Contents

A SharePoint page can have a lot going on with content placeholders, Web Part zones, controls, and other page elements. When you’re working with a SharePoint page, often you want to focus on a single element, such as PlaceHolderMain or a Web Part zone or a Data View. Now you can select any of those elements, and then click Zoom to Contents on the Ribbon. After you zoom to contents, both Design view and Code view will show only the element that you want to work with, so you won’t be distracted by the visual clutter or code on the rest of the page.

All Files view

The new user interface in SharePoint Designer 2010 focuses on surfacing all of the important components in a SharePoint solution. If you used the Folder List in previous versions of SharePoint Designer, you can still have the experience of working with the files and folders in a site by using All Files view.

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SharePoint Designer 2010 includes major improvements to workflows. You can now rapidly design workflows that facilitate a wide range of business and human processes. And many new building blocks means that workflows are more flexible and powerful and capable of modeling more complex business logic and process.

Reusable workflows

With SharePoint Designer 2010, you can create workflows that are easily reusable. You can create a reusable workflow in the top-level site in the site collection, and that workflow is globally reusable — meaning that the workflow can be associated to any list or library in the site collection. You can also create a reusable workflow in any subsite in the site collection; this workflow is available for reuse in that particular subsite.

Export workflows

Now you can export a reusable workflow from one site collection and then upload and activate that workflow in a different site collection. SharePoint Designer 2010 supports exporting a workflow as a solution package or .wsp file.

Association columns

If your reusable workflow requires certain columns to be present in the list or library that it is associated to, you can add those columns as association columns. Association columns get added automatically to a list or library when a reusable workflow is associated to that list or library.

Associate workflows with content types

When you create a reusable workflow, you can choose to filter your reusable workflow to a specific content type. Then, in the browser, you can associate your reusable workflow either to that specific content type or to any content type that inherits from that content type. If you associate a workflow to a site content type, you make that workflow available for all items of that content type in every list and library to which that site content type has been added.

Site workflows

You can think of a site workflow as a general site-wide process. A site workflow is associated to a site — not to a list, library, or content type. So unlike most workflows, a site workflow is not running on a specific list item. In the browser, you can start a site workflow or view the status of running site workflows by clicking Site Workflows on the Site Actions menu.

Edit the workflows included with SharePoint Server

The three most popular workflows in SharePoint Server — the Approval, Collect Feedback, and Collect Signatures workflows — have been completely rebuilt as declarative workflows, meaning that they are now fully customizable in SharePoint Designer 2010. These workflows are event-driven, and all of the important events in the workflow are surfaced in the workflow editor, both for each task in the process and for the process as a whole. For example, you can easily add conditions and actions to define what happens when each task is assigned, expired, or completed.

Design a custom approval process

SharePoint Designer 2010 includes three new approval actions: Assign Item for Approval, Assign Item for Feedback, and General Task Process. The “big three” workflows included in SharePoint Server 2010 — the Approval, Collect Feedback, and Collect Signatures workflows — are built with these actions. The approval actions surface all of the important events in an approval process, making it easy for you to design a human workflow process where many people interact or collaborate on a specific document.

Impersonation steps

In the previous version of SharePoint Designer, a workflow always impersonated the user who started the workflow and ran with that user’s permissions. Now, in SharePoint Designer 2010, you can now use impersonation steps to have the workflow perform actions by impersonating the workflow author instead of the workflow initiator. Impersonation steps are very useful in approval and publishing scenarios, where the people submitting content for approval and the people approving content have different permissions.

Visio integration

Suppose that your organization has a business analyst who best understands the process that a workflow needs to capture. With SharePoint Designer 2010 and Visio Professional 2010, a business analyst can now sketch out workflows graphically in Visio. Visio Professional 2010 includes a Microsoft SharePoint Workflow template that includes shapes for all of the workflow conditions and actions. You can start in Visio and then export to SharePoint Designer, or you can start in SharePoint Designer and then export to Visio, or you can iterate on a workflow design with many roundtrips between both programs without losing any of the workflow settings.

Workflow visualizations

You can easily view the status of any running workflow on the Workflow Status page. With a workflow visualization, a Visio diagram of your workflow is automatically created and displayed in a Visio Web Part on the Workflow Status page. The workflow visualization shows a “live” view of exactly where a specific workflow is at. Workflow visualizations require Visio Professional 2010 installed on your computer and Visio Graphics Services running on the server.

InfoPath forms

If your server is running SharePoint Server 2010 (not SharePoint Foundation 2010 alone), all of the workflow forms — the association form, initiation form, and task forms — are now InfoPath 2010 forms. It is easy to change the appearance and layout of InfoPath forms, and you can add validation rules to an InfoPath form. To edit a workflow form in InfoPath 2010, just click the form and InfoPath opens directly from SharePoint Designer 2010.

Substeps & new workflow actions

SharePoint Designer 2010 includes many new building blocks such as substeps and new workflow actions. For example, if your workflow is associated to a document library or if it is filtered to the Document content type, a group of contextual Document Set actions appear. A document set is a new feature in SharePoint Server 2010 whereby a group of documents are treated as a single unit, so a workflow action for a document set will iterate on all items in that document set. Other new workflow actions include utility actions to manipulate strings and dates; a new relational action that uses Active Directory to look up a person’s manager; and new list actions that a workflow can use to set permissions on a list item.

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Views & forms

This release of SharePoint introduces significant new view and form capabilities for lists: the XSLT List View Web Part and InfoPath forms. You have more flexibility than ever before in choosing how people will interact with data by using the views and forms in your solution.

XSLT List View Web Part

Every standard list view in SharePoint 2010 products is now a Data View — specifically, an XSLT List View Web Part (XLV). This means that you can easily customize any standard list view in SharePoint Designer 2010 — for example, you can now add conditional formatting to any list view. And after you customize a list view in SharePoint Designer 2010, you can still modify that view using all of the options in the browser, such as adding or removing columns or filtering and sorting. An XLV is fully customizable both in SharePoint Designer and in the browser.

Shared XSLT templates mean cleaner code & better performance

The XSLT List View Web Part (XLV) uses shared XSLT style sheets that reside in the _layouts directory on the server. Every standard list view on the entire server uses the same set of shared XSLT templates. An XLV uses one template to format each field (or column), one template to format the row, and one template to format the table. When you customize the appearance of an XLV, you generate overriding XSL templates only for the specific templates that you modify — for example, if you highlight a field, you generate XSLT that overrides just the shared template for that specific field. This means the XLV is easier to work with in Code view, and also has better performance when this page is rendered in the browser.

Easily undo customizations by reverting the XSLT

If you customize an XSLT List View Web Part and later decide that you want to undo those changes, or if you encounter errors in the XSL that you’re unable to fix, you can always revert an XLV to how it first appeared before you made any changes. When you revert the XSLT for an XLV, that XLV goes back to using the shared XSLT templates on the server. You can choose to revert the entire view or just specific XSLT templates, such as the item template.

Create Data Views from the Ribbon

The Data View is a powerful feature for viewing and editing data from a wide range of data sources — including both data in SharePoint lists and data external to SharePoint. The Ribbon makes to easy to insert a Data View with just a couple of clicks. Then you can further customize your Data View by using all of the options under List View Tools (for XLVs) or Data View Tools (for the Data Form Web Part) on the Ribbon.

Apply conditional formatting from the Ribbon

Conditional formatting can give your Data Views more impact by highlighting the information that’s critical to your team. Now you can apply conditional formatting rules to your Data Views directly from the Ribbon.

Share view styles and apply them from the Ribbon

You can easily share custom styles for your list views (XLVs) with others in the site collection by uploading the styles (.XSL files) to the Style library in the top-level site in the site collection. Anyone with proper permissions can then use SharePoint Designer 2010 to apply these custom styles to their own list views with just one click.

Data Views support AJAX

Data Views provide many features that make data easier to work with, such as paging, filtering and sorting on column headers, and inline editing. Now you can turn on asynchronous updates for each view, so that all of these features no longer require full-page refreshes in the browser — only the Data View is refreshed. You can also specify a time interval when the data in the view is automatically refreshed, or you can add a button to a Data View that people can click to manually refresh the view.

Related item views

SharePoint Designer 2010 makes it easier to create dashboard-type pages that show all data related to a specific item. First, you use lookup columns to create a parent-child relationship between data in two different lists — and now, in SharePoint 2010 products, you can use the options for a lookup column to enforce referential integrity between those lists, so that there are no child items orphaned without parent items. Then, from the Ribbon in SharePoint Designer 2010, you can easily create related item views that show all of the children items in one list related to a specific parent item in a different list.

Custom actions

With SharePoint Designer 2010, you can make it easier for people to discover the important actions that they might need to take on an item. For example, you can add a custom action to the list item menu of any list so that people can start a workflow directly from the menu on the list item. You can also add custom actions as buttons on the Ribbon for the form and view pages of a list. Custom actions make solutions easier for people to use by providing the right actions in the right context.

InfoPath forms

In SharePoint Server 2010, lists can now use InfoPath forms for their New Item, View Item, and Edit Item forms. InfoPath makes it easy to change completely the layout and appearance of forms. Plus, InfoPath forms provide very useful features such as formatting rules and validation rules. And you have flexibility because every content type associated to a list can have its own set of forms. When you need to design forms in InfoPath, you can launch InfoPath 2010 directly from the Ribbon in SharePoint Designer 2010.

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External content types & Business Connectivity Services

SharePoint 2010 products and Office 2010 include new capabilities for deeply integrating external business data and processes into the user experience in Office and SharePoint. These capabilities include new features, services, and tools in the SharePoint platform. With Business Connectivity Services (BCS), you can connect to external data from Microsoft SQL Server, Web services, or .NET assemblies. And you can connect to this external data from the client or the server, whether online or offline, and you can create, read, update, and delete data in those external data sources.

External content types

In the previous version of SharePoint, there was the concept of a Business Data Entity, which was a type of external business data available in the Business Data Catalog. For example, an entity could be a Customer or Order. Now an entity is called an external content type (ECT). Content types in SharePoint can have behaviors such as workflows or policies associated with them. Similarly, external content types can also have behaviors called operations associated with them. An operation is not a workflow or a policy; it determines whether people can create, read, update, delete, or search for instances of that external content type. So content types and external content types have this in common: They define not only the schema of the data (the fields and field types), but also the behaviors or operations associated with the data.

Create external content types in SharePoint Designer 2010

In the previous version, SharePoint did not support authoring an application definition in the Business Data Catalog. Now, SharePoint Designer 2010 provides the tools to connect to external data, to create external content types, to publish those external content types to the Business Data Catalog on the server, and to auto-generate both an external list and all of the forms required by that external list. With SharePoint Designer 2010, you can surface external data from line-of-business systems such as SAP or Siebel in SharePoint without writing a single line of code.

External lists

An external list is the key building block for BCS solutions. An external list looks and behaves virtually the same as any SharePoint list but contains data from an external source. An external list makes it easy for people to read and write external data within the familiar experience of working with a SharePoint list. You can create an external list and its forms right from SharePoint Designer 2010. Creating an external list also creates views (using the XSLT List View Web Part) and forms (using the XSLT List Form Web Part) for the browser, and a customizable Outlook 2010 form and an InfoPath 2010 form. The InfoPath form can be used instead of the default XSLT views and forms to view and edit data in the external list in the browser, and the Outlook form is used to display external data in Outlook 2010.

External Lists in SharePoint Workspace

After you create an external list, you can just click the Connect to SharePoint Workspace button on the server Ribbon to make that external list available in SharePoint Workspace 2010. In SharePoint Workspace, you can view and edit the external data directly from the client, whether you’re connected or offline. BCS provides a cache and synchronization mechanism that is installed on the client computer and that keeps the data fresh and synchronized with the back-end system. SharePoint Workspace also provides error and conflict resolution. When you connect an external list to SharePoint Workspace, InfoPath 2010 forms for viewing and editing the data in SharePoint Workspace are auto-generated.

External Lists in Outlook

You can also connect an external list to Outlook 2010. When you create an external content type in SharePoint Designer 2010, you can map it to a native Office item type such as a contact or task so that the external data looks and behaves just like a contact or task item in Outlook. For example, suppose that your external data is a list of customers and you want to display that external data in Outlook. Because the data for customers closely resembles contacts in Outlook, you can map that external content type to the contact item in Outlook. After you connect the external list to Outlook, you can create, update, and delete the external data directly from Outlook just as you would create and update native Outlook contacts.

Business Data columns, workflow, & Word

After you create an external content type, you can add a Business Data column to a list or library. A Business Data column is associated with an external content type and represents a field from that ECT. If a document library uses a Word document for its template, you can edit the template in Word by adding Quick Parts, which are content controls that are bound to Business Data columns. When people create a new document based on that Word template, external data is displayed inside the document in content controls. The content controls automatically enable picking and resolving functionality for the external data. With SharePoint Designer 2010, you can also create a workflow that is associated to this document library and that reads and writes data to the external list. In SharePoint Designer, the standard workflow list actions have been enhanced to work with external data.

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Control where & how people can use SharePoint Designer 2010

If you are an IT professional who administers SharePoint for your organization, know that you can broadly deploy SharePoint Designer 2010 and have complete confidence that you can easily control where and how people in your organization can use SharePoint Designer. Moreover, the new page-editing experience in SharePoint Designer 2010 means that — by default — customizing pages (also known as “unghosting”) is neither possible nor necessary in order to compose powerful pages and dashboards.

Administration pages for the Web application and site collection

If you are a server administrator, you have a new page in Central Administration dedicated specifically to settings for SharePoint Designer 2010. If you are a site collection administrator, you have a similar page in the Site Settings of the top-level site in the site collection. For each Web application or site collection, you now have options to allow people to use SharePoint Designer, to customize pages, to customize master pages and page layouts, and to use the All Files view.

Customizing pages requires higher permissions by default

Customizing pages (also known as “unghosting”) now requires higher permissions than in the previous release: By default, only Site Collection Administrators can customize pages, master pages, and page layouts, or use the All Files view. This means that, in the Navigation pane, most people will not see the nodes for Master Pages, Page Layouts, and All Files. Instead, people will build solutions by creating and storing Web Part pages in the Site Pages library. So it’s easy for you to preserve a consistent branding and layout across your Web application or site collection.

New page-editing experience: default mode vs. Advanced mode

In SharePoint Designer 2010, the emphasis is on creating and configuring components like Data Views, forms, and workflows — and less on editing HTML and other Web designer-type tasks. Thus, the default mode for editing Web Part pages is simpler and more intuitive — in fact, the default mode is much like adding content to a wiki page. People can insert Data Views and forms, type text, and add other content inside the main content placeholder (PlaceHolderMain), but the rest of the page is locked for editing. In this mode, all custom content resides inside a hidden Web Part, so in the default mode a page cannot be customized (“unghosted”). By contrast, in Advanced mode, you can fully customize the page by editing anything on the page. Again, by default only Site Collection Administrators can edit pages in Advanced mode.

Site Pages

In the previous version, you might have been concerned about people saving files to the root of the site or changing the folder structure of the site. In SharePoint Designer 2010, by default most people will not have access to the All Files view in a site; instead, all new pages created in a site reside in the Site Pages document library. The Site Pages library provides a simple, streamlined way for people to create and store the files necessary for their solution.

Easily revert site pages to a previous version

The Sites Pages library uses versioning, so if you inadvertently break a page, you can easily roll back to a previous version. In SharePoint Designer 2010, every SharePoint page has a summary page that displays the version history for that page. On the summary page, you can restore a previous version right from the Ribbon.

Easier upgrades moving forward

Customized pages can complicate the upgrade process. For example, when upgrading to Office SharePoint Server 2007, customized pages did not automatically take on the new look and feel, and you often had to manually reproduce the customizations on a new version of the page. With SharePoint Designer 2010, people can take advantage of all its application-building and customization capabilities without customizing (“unghosting”) any pages. So you can broadly deploy SharePoint Designer 2010 and know that any future SharePoint upgrades will not be complicated by large numbers of customized pages.

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