Use a Document Center site

SharePoint offers many features for managing content, and it scales well. If you have hundreds or thousands of documents, videos, and so on that you have to manage, consider using a Document Center site template (included with SharePoint by default). This template is optimized for large-scale document management. It can save time and help you be more efficient, SharePoint also includes the Document Center site template. Key features such as document versions, document IDs, document sets, metadata navigation, and content types are built in to the template for you.

A Document Center site works for both of these scenarios:

  • Authoring environment    In a Document Center authoring environment, users create and edit thousands of documents or media assets that are stored in a central repository.

  • Content archive    In a content archive, such as a knowledge base, users store or view documents.

This article tells you about the features in a Document Center site template, and how to create a Document Center site.

To create a document center, see Using templates to create different kinds of SharePoint sites

What’s in a Document Center site?

The Document Center site template contains features that make it easier and more efficient to create and manage large sets of documents. In most cases, a site owner can add each of these features separately. But a Document Center site template automatically enables the recommended document management features. The following sections briefly describe these features.

You can use a Document Center site as an authoring environment or a content archive. In an authoring environment, users frequently check files in and out and create folder structures for those files. Versioning is enabled, and 10 or more earlier versions of each document can exist. In addition, workflows can control document life cycles.

By contrast, very little authoring occurs in a content archive. Users only view or upload documents. The Document Center site template supports creating a type of content archive called knowledge base archives. Typically, knowledge bases contain single versions of documents, and a site can scale to 10 million files. In a typical scenario, such as a technical support center for a large organization, 10,000 users might access the content, primarily to read it. A subset of 3,000 to 4,000 users might upload new content to the site.

The following items describe some SharePoint features that you can include in a Document Center site. This list describes only several of the possible features. In addition to these capabilities, most businesses customize the look and navigation of a Document Center, and include customized Web Parts for functionality that is unique to the business.

Managed metadata is a system that assigns certain terms to documents in SharePoint. Then, you can use those terms to classify the documents. You can also use metadata to create a powerful navigation tool for users that can help them find what they want quickly.

For example, suppose that your company has a knowledge base repository that contains articles that help people troubleshoot problems with products. You might create metadata terms that enable users to filter information by product, by problem type, or other characteristics.

In a Document Center site, each piece of content gets a unique ID that is unrelated to the document location, like a URL link. This means that if you move or rename the document, the ID remains the same. Thus, you can use the ID to create a kind of permanent link for the document and minimize the time-wasting potential of broken links.

Document versions are automatically enabled in a Document Center site. This means that you automatically have a history of all the different versions of a document. In a document review process, for example, this means that you have a record of all the updates that were entered during the review cycle. You can track updates, contact responders, and so on. In addition, if an issue arises with the current version of an article, you can revert quickly to the last-known-good version,

A content type is a specific kind of content together with a group of settings for the content. When someone creates a document of a defined content type, it automatically receives all the appropriate settings for that content type. For example, a Document Center might have a collection of content types – different kinds of documents, video, templates, and so on.

The Content Organizer is not included automatically in a Document Center site. However, many users add it. The Content Organizer is a SharePoint feature that lets you manage the overall organization and structure of items. By using metadata or content types, the Content Organizer can automatically route documents and other items to specific locations. For example, in a knowledge base, you might have the Content Organizer automatically route all new submissions to a special library that collects articles for a specific product.

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