Use Contributor Settings as a site manager

You manage a site, and you want your team to be able to use Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 to contribute content to the site without disrupting the site's design, layout, or other content. With Contributor Settings, you can configure Contributor mode so that your team will find it easy to accomplish their tasks, and you can set appropriate controls over the site content that they are allowed to modify. Best of all for the site manager, Contributor mode is on by default and there is no required setup.

This article gives you an overview of how to use Contributor Settings as a site manager and how to work with Contributor groups and region types.

To learn more about Contributor Settings, see the article Introduction to Contributor Settings.

Important: To use Contributor Settings, your site must be located on a server running either Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 or Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.

In this article

Contributor Settings is on by default

How do I use Contributor groups?

What is the default Contributor group?

How do I use region types?

Provide a contact e-mail address

Reset Contributor Settings to the default settings

Contributor Settings is on by default

The first time that you open any SharePoint site in Office SharePoint Designer 2007, Contributor Settings is on by default. There is no setup required by the site manager, unless you want to change the default settings. Contributor Settings includes a set of default Contributor groups (that have default settings) that are linked to the default SharePoint permission levels, and these settings are in effect until someone with sufficient permissions turns them off.

When you turn off Contributor Settings, any user with permissions to open the site has full, unrestricted access to all the features and functionality in Office SharePoint Designer 2007. Any Contributor settings that you created still reside in the site, however, and you can turn on Contributor Settings again at any time to put those settings back in effect.

Important: To turn Contributor Settings on or off, you must have at least the Manage Permissions permission in the SharePoint site. In most cases, this means that you must be a site administrator.

Turn Contributor Settings on or off

  1. Open your SharePoint site in Office SharePoint Designer 2007.

  2. On the Site menu, click Contributor Settings.

  3. If necessary, click Advanced to open the Advanced section.

    Contributor Settings dialog box

  4. If Contributor Settings is on, click Disable Contributor Settings. If Contributor Settings is off, click Enable Contributor Settings.

  5. Click OK.

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How do I use Contributor groups?

In the browser

As a site manager, it is important to understand that a considerable part of setting up Contributor groups is actually done on the Site Settings pages in the browser.

For example, you do not add users directly to Contributor groups. Instead, each Contributor group is linked to one or more permission levels in a SharePoint site. A permission level determines two important factors for the Contributor group to which it is linked:

  • Who is a member of that Contributor group    When you add users and groups to a SharePoint site in the browser, you must assign them a permission level. If that permission level is linked to a Contributor group in Office SharePoint Designer 2007, by extension those users and groups become members of that Contributor group. Therefore, if you want to remove users from a Contributor group, you must either unlink their permission level from the Contributor group (this is done in Office SharePoint Designer 2007) or assign them a permission level that is not linked to that Contributor group (this is done in the browser).

  • What permissions that Contributor group has    Contributor Settings is not a security feature. Contributor Settings is designed to guide well-intentioned users in the right direction so that they can easily accomplish their tasks with minimal risk of breaking the site. The Contributor settings that you specify in Office SharePoint Designer 2007 cannot override or supersede the SharePoint permission levels. A user's permission level — not their Contributor settings — always determines that user's level of access to a SharePoint site. Users' Contributor settings determine what editing features they can use in Office SharePoint Designer 2007.

As a site manager using Contributor Settings, in the browser you might need to:

  • Add users and groups and assign them a permission level.     By extension, they belong to any Contributor group that might be linked to that permission level.

  • Change which permission level is assigned to users.     That permission level might be linked to a different Contributor group.

  • Edit existing permission levels.     As a site owner, you can choose which permissions are associated with these permission levels. The permission level always supersedes the linked Contributor group settings. Contributor Settings cannot allow users to change a site in any way that their permission level does not allow. For example, even if you allow a Contributor group to create new pages, those users cannot do so unless their permission level includes the Add and Customize Pages permission.

  • Create new permissions levels.     You can add new permission levels to combine different sets of permissions. You might have users or groups who need access to only specific objects in a site, so you can grant them the least privileged permissions necessary for them to complete their tasks.

You can find links to more information about managing SharePoint permissions in the See Also section.

In Office SharePoint Designer 2007

Contributor groups are user groups who are assigned to perform a particular task in the Web site update process — for example, content authors and Web designers. You can use Contributor Settings to create different sets of editing restrictions for different Contributor groups, but the groups must first be linked to SharePoint permission levels.

There are three default Contributor groups: Site Manager, Web Designers, and Content Authors. These Contributor groups are linked respectively to the Full Control, Design, and Contribute permission levels.

Default Contributor groups shown in the Contributor Settings dialog box

For example, you have a Web designer who has access to modify your SharePoint site with the Design permission level. By default, that Web designer uses Office SharePoint Designer 2007 as a member of the Web Designers Contributor group. This is because the Contributor group Web Designers is linked to the Design permission level. Similarly a site manager who has the Full Control permission level in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 belongs to the Site Manager group in Office SharePoint Designer 2007.

Permission level shown linked to a Contributor group

You may find that the default Contributor groups are all that you need, or you may want to create more Contributor groups. For example, you might want to have two different Web Designer groups, one with all the normal permissions and one without the ability to create or modify master pages. To do this, you create the new Contributor group in Office SharePoint Designer 2007 and give it a name — for example, Limited Designer. You may have to create a new SharePoint permission level — for example, Design Limited — because the Design permission level is already linked to the Web Designers Contributor group. Then you link the new Contributor group to the new SharePoint permission level, and configure the editing restrictions for the Contributor group.

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 is flexible about creating new permission levels. If you run out of available levels, you can simply create a new one. Because each SharePoint permission level can be linked to only one Contributor group, you may need to create new permission levels if you find yourself adding many new Contributor groups.

You can create new Contributor groups or modify existing ones. For more information, see the article Create a Contributor group.

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What is the default Contributor group?

The first time that you open a site in Office SharePoint Designer 2007 and then open the Contributor Settings dialog box (Site menu), you notice that Content Authors is displayed as the default Contributor group. What does this mean?

As you already know, all SharePoint site users and groups are assigned permission levels in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. The permission levels, in turn, are linked to Contributor groups. Suppose there is a user whose permission level is not linked to a Contributor group. When this user opens the site in Office SharePoint Designer 2007, that user is automatically allocated to the default group. This means that when Contributor Settings is turned on, every user gets a set of editing restrictions, whether or not you link their permission level to a Contributor group.

Why is the Content Author Contributor group the default group in Office SharePoint Designer 2007? Because the Content Author group, by default, has the least amount of access to the features in Office SharePoint Designer 2007. So even if users who aren't linked to any Contributor group open the site for editing, they get only limited access. This minimizes the chances of anybody inadvertently breaking the site. Designating a default Contributor group also makes it easier for you to configure Contributor Settings, because you do not need to link all the permission levels in your site to a Contributor group.

You can change the default group. However, before doing so, you need to ask yourself if this change will not adversely affect your Web site update process. Remember that the Contributor group settings of the default group are the editing restrictions that any user outside a Contributor group gets. To learn how to change which Contributor group is the default group, see the article Create a Contributor group.

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How do I use region types?

Master pages contain content placeholders that define where on the page users can make changes. The areas inside content placeholders are called content regions. With Contributor Settings, you can create region types, and then assign a region type to a content region. For example, a region type might specify that users can add only text to a content region. Used in conjunction with master pages, Contributor Settings makes it possible for a site owner to define not only where on the page changes can be made, but also what types of changes are allowed there.

For example, suppose that the Content Authors group must regularly update information on pages in your SharePoint site. You can create specific content regions on pages where the content authors can add content. The remaining regions on the page are not editable, thus preventing users from inadvertently changing the design, layout, or styles.

There are three default region types in Office SharePoint Designer 2007 — Text Only, Text and Images, and Text, Layout and Images.

Default region types in the Contributor Settings dialog box

You can use region types to control the type of content that users can add to regions on a page. For example, suppose that you want to restrict users from adding tables to a page. You can modify the Text, Layout and Images region type settings to restrict users from creating tables.

By default, when you create a new region type, the editing restrictions in all four categories — Editing, Formatting, Images, and SharePoint — are inherited from a user's Contributor group settings. All the options for setting editing restrictions in the Region Settings dialog box become available only after you choose to override the Contributor group settings. This is the real reason for using region types: to override the settings for one or more Contributor groups in specific regions on the page. With region types, the site manager can exercise very granular control over what types of content can be added to content regions by which Contributor groups.

To learn how to add a content placeholder to a master page, create a region type, and then assign that region type to the content region, see the article Create a region type.

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Provide a contact e-mail address

As a site manager, when you create the Contributor groups and region types for your site, you should balance ease of administration with the need to set editing restrictions so that users can accomplish their tasks but without breaking the site. With any site, it is also important to follow the principle of least privilege: You want contributors to have the least amount of access to features in Office SharePoint Designer 2007 while still being able to accomplish their tasks.

If users working in Contributor groups or with region types discover that a Contributor setting prevents them from completing their task, it is important that they know who to contact. You should provide at least one contact e-mail address for a site. Ideally, each contact has sufficient permissions (usually Full Control) to change the Contributor settings for the site, if necessary. When users view their Contributor settings, they can contact the site manager by clicking the Contact the site manager link in the Contributor task pane. Users can also view the site manager's e-mail address by clicking Contributor Settings on the Site menu.

  1. On the Site menu, click Contributor Settings.

  2. In the Contact e-mail box, type the full e-mail address of the contact — for example, If you type more than one address, make sure to separate the addresses with semicolons.

  3. Click OK.

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Reset Contributor Settings to the default settings

If you choose to reset Contributor Settings to the default settings, all Contributor groups and region types that you created or customized are deleted and cannot be recovered.

  1. On the Site menu, click Contributor Settings, and then click Reset Contributor Settings Defaults.

  2. When the following message appears, click Yes.

    Message prompting if you want to remove all the Contributor settings

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