The Datasheet view in SharePoint is one of the most used pieces of functionality in the platform for document management.
In essence it allows a user to edit multiple pieces of metadata in a nice Excel format. Frankly the idea that a user will upload a single document at a time and categorize it one-by-one was always laughable. In the majority of cases a user would perform an upload of multiple items and then categorize their contents as needed:
But in previous versions of the product datasheet view had some serious limitations, mainly:
- No support for Managed Metadata columns which made it really difficult to use Managed Metadata in SharePoint 2010
- No support for browsers apart from Internet Explorer
- Just plain difficult to get it working since you needed an Active X Plugin to work
However all is not lost! In SharePoint 2013 one of the biggest improvements is the additional functionality and removal of limitations in datasheet view (now called ‘Quick Edit’). This means that users will be able to enter in metadata quickly and easily and we all know why that is so important :) So what are the big improvements?
Support for Managed Metadata
Yes people you heard it correctly that now Managed Metadata is supported to be edited in datasheet view. This has huge implications in terms of the types of fields that you use to create your SharePoint solutions since now you can consider using Managed Metadata fields instead of choice fields or look up columns in far more scenarios:
The support for Managed Metadata in my mind makes Managed Metadata THE choice for any field that requires a set of options but I will blog more about that latter! Either way this is very good news.
Removal of Active X Dependency
The other big peice of news is that datasheet view is now powered not by an Active X control but in HTML 5 which makes is much easier to use and it can also be used on browsers other than IE. This is great news from a cross browser compatibility perspective but also for getting users up and running quickly.
Support in Document Sets
A big limitation in SharePoint 2010 of Document Sets was the inability to use datasheet view. Good news is that in SharePoint 2013 this has been address so that you can now edit metadata within a Document Set easily:
Filter and edit behavior
This one is more subtle but we have clients that use views extensively to filter huge amount of data to find what they want. Put simply in previous versions of SharePoint if you first apply some filters and then click on Datasheet view you will loose the filters that you had (which means that you would have to start doing the filtering again)
Now in SharePoint 2013 you can actually filter your content and if you click on Quick Edit it will keep your currently filtered view and allow you to edit these values:
So there you have it a whole host of great improvements to make entering and changing metadata easier. There are some other slight changes as well but its great news that will make the process of entering metadata which will have a ton of benefits to all organizations and users.