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This chapter is from the book

Exploring the SharePoint Designer Interface

Before creating new content and using some of the advanced features of SharePoint Designer, it's important you understand how the product works. Specifically, you need to be aware of the interaction between SharePoint 2010 sites and SharePoint Designer 2010. You also need to know how to navigate and access content within a SharePoint site.

Anatomy of the SharePoint Designer User Interface

After you open a SharePoint site in SharePoint Designer 2010, the Site tab at the very top of the window, and next to the File tab, is active and the initial page, or screen, displays. As shown in Figure 7.27, key elements of the SharePoint Designer screen include a contextual ribbon, navigational elements, such as breadcrumbs and tabs, a navigation pane on the left of the screen, and the main settings page directly to the right of the navigation pane, which doubles as a workspace area for editing pages and modifying list and document library properties.

Figure 7.27

Figure 7.27 Snapshot of the main sections of the SharePoint Designer user interface.

The settings page, just like the contextual ribbon, changes to display information based on the current selection within the navigation pane, such as Content Types, which list all of the current site's content types. The settings page also acts as the primary workspace for editing pages, such as master pages and CSS files.

The current site is highlighted in the left-hand navigation pane and the settings page reflects the settings specific to that site, including options for managing the site that we explore further in the following sections. In addition, the contextual ribbon includes several options, including administrative options. Options in the ribbon change depending on location within SharePoint Designer and user permissions. There is a direct link between actions in the ribbon and actions in the navigation pane and settings/workspace section, so that the user is always kept in context with editing and configuration options specific to his current course of action.

Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) and Contextual Ribbon

Two key components within the SharePoint Designer 2010 user interface include the contextual ribbon and the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT), which has a default position immediately above the ribbon. Both of these components give you the option to access features related to the site and content. However, you may choose to modify the ribbon and the QAT to suit your environment. For instance, you might want to add to the QAT those features you tend to use more frequently or remove from the ribbon those features you tend to use less frequently. SharePoint Designer 2010 includes the ability to modify both components via the SharePoint Designer backstage.

Customizing the Ribbon and QAT

To customize the ribbon and QAT, you need to access the SharePoint Designer 2010 backstage. Follow the steps below to access and customize the ribbon and QAT:

  1. With SharePoint Designer 2010 open, click the File tab to access the backstage.
  2. On the backstage, click Options in the left-hand menu.
  3. In the subsequent SharePoint Designer Options dialog, click Customize Ribbon, as shown in Figure 7.28.
    Figure 7.28

    Figure 7.28 Customize Ribbon options in SharePoint Designer.

The Choose Commands From listing includes available commands that you can add into custom groups in the Customize the Ribbon listing immediately to the right. If you want to remove any of the existing tabs from the ribbon, you simply need to uncheck the respective checkboxes in the Customize the Ribbon listing. Removing options from the ribbon can also maximize your workspace area when you're working in SharePoint Designer. For example, unchecking Lists and Libraries renders the page minus the ribbon, shown in Figure 7.29. However, remember that removing such a large segment of ribbon also removes those actions that you need to access when working within the current context, in this case, lists and libraries.

Figure 7.29

Figure 7.29 Removal of ribbon interface from the Lists and Libraries section in SharePoint Designer 2010.

To add new items to the ribbon, we need to create a new tab, by doing the following:

  1. Click the New Tab button directly below the Customize the Ribbon list.
  2. Select the New Tab (Custom) option and, immediately below the Customize the Ribbon list, click the Rename button.
  3. In the Rename dialog, type in a new Display name and click OK.
  4. Next, click the New Group (Custom), directly below the new tab you just created, and click the Rename button.
  5. In the Rename dialog, type a new Display name and click OK.
  6. Next, making sure your new custom group is selected, choose a command from the commands list and click Add >> to add the command to the group. Click OK to save your customization and close the SharePoint Designer Options dialog.

The result of customizing the ribbon is shown in Figure 7.32, including the SharePointRus custom tab and the two custom groups, Common and Workflows. The Customize XSLT button is grayed because that option is out of context. Note also that a custom tab remains as a static tab, which is unlike tabs you select via the navigation pane, which only appear as required.

To remove the custom tab or group, or to remove commands from within a custom group, return to the Customize Ribbon dialog and uncheck the commands you want to remove. You can also select the custom tab or group, or command, and click the << Remove button. Alternatively, if you choose to remove all current ribbon customizations, click the Reset button located beneath the Customize Ribbon listing and select Reset All Customizations.

The customization option you just performed is specific to the current computer you are using. Imagine you have created custom tabs and groups and want to continue using that configuration on another machine. This can be achieved by saving the current configuration and then importing it into another instance of SharePoint Designer 2010.

Exporting SharePoint Designer Ribbons

To export a custom SharePoint Designer 2010 ribbon, go back to the Customize Ribbon dialog and click the Import/Export button below the Customize Ribbon listing. Select the Export All Customizations option. In the File Save dialog, add a filename, such as SharePointRus.exportedUI, select the save location, and then click OK.

When importing the exported customization file, follow the same procedure previously described, but choose the Import Customization File option from the Import/Export button.

The QAT provides a shortcut to regularly used commands in SharePoint Designer 2010. To customize the QAT, ensure the SharePoint Designer Options dialog is open. If it is not, click Options in the left-hand menu from the backstage. In the SharePoint Designer Options dialog, click Quick Access Toolbar in the left-hand menu. Unlike customizing the ribbon, you are not required to create a custom tab or group. Instead, you can select from the commands in the Choose Commands From listing and click the Add >> or << Remove buttons to add and remove commands to the QAT.

By default, the QAT sits above the ribbon. You can choose to position the QAT directly below the ribbon by checking the Show Quick Access Toolbar Below the Ribbon checkbox directly under the Choose Commands From listing.

As with the ribbon customization options, you have the options to reset the QAT to the default settings and import or export customized QAT settings.

Flexible Navigation Options

The main navigational areas within SharePoint Designer 2010 are the ribbon, settings/workspace area, and navigation pane. Immediately above the settings/workspace area is access to a tabbed and breadcrumb interface that you might use when accessing site content and working with and editing pages.

Breadcrumb and Current Tabs

The tabbed interface, shown in Figure 7.33, sits immediately above the settings/workspace page and remains consistent as you access content within a SharePoint site. Tabs highlight when selected and the associated breadcrumb, immediately below the tabs, displays the current path along with shortcut options to quickly access options respective to the current level. For example, in Figure 7.33 the Products list is our current location and we are able to access and work with common list features by selecting from the drop-down menu. Tabs are also draggable so you may conveniently change the order in which they are displayed. This is particularly useful when you have many site objects open and need to prioritize access.

Figure 7.33

Figure 7.33 Flexible access when working with multiple sets of content within SharePoint Designer 2010.

You can close tabs by right-clicking a tab and selecting Close or Close All Tabs.

Maximizing the Workspace

The navigation pane to the left of the screen can be conveniently collapsed for maximum screen real estate, as shown in Figure 7.34.

Figure 7.34

Figure 7.34 Maximize the workspace by minimizing the navigation pane.

Exploring the Navigation Pane

The navigation pane, shown in Figure 7.35, is the crux of locating and finding content within SharePoint Designer 2010. It is the springboard to accessing content such as a site's lists and libraries, or other site artifacts such as master pages and page layouts, and it is available to the left of the screen for quick and easy access to site content irrespective of your current location within a site. As you click through tabs in the navigation pane, content specific to a selected tab appears in the settings/workspace area.

Figure 7.35

Figure 7.35 SharePoint Designer 2010 navigation pane.

A lot of functionality available via the Web interface has been carried over to SharePoint Designer 2010, such as the ability to create new site columns and content types. Previously, in SharePoint Server 2007 and SharePoint Designer 2007, this functionality was only available via the Web interface, which meant working concurrently between SharePoint Designer and the browser to accomplish common site customization tasks.

To assist in accessing content via the navigation pane, it is possible to pin and unpin tabs so that related content "sticks" at the base of the pane instead of content appearing to the right of the navigation pane and disappearing from view as you select alternate tabs. This method helps you avoid reselecting a particular tab when you have content that you need to access on a regular basis, such as a site's lists and libraries, but you want the flexibility to navigate through the other tabs.

To pin tabs in the navigation pane, right-click a tab and then click Pin, as shown in Figure 7.36. Similarly, to unpin a tab, right-click the currently pinned tab and then click Pin again.

Figure 7.36

Figure 7.36 Use the Pin or Unpin option to add or remove contents of selected navigation objects to the base of the navigation pane.

Figure 7.37 shows the Data Sources tab pinned and the Master Pages tab currently selected. As you can see, the content related to the Data Sources tab remains stuck at the base of the navigation pane, which gives you the freedom to select other tabs and content while still maintaining access to content in the Data Sources tab.

Figure 7.37

Figure 7.37 The navigation pane when the Data Sources tab is pinned and the Master Pages tab is selected.

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