Here in my third article in what has quickly become a series of them, I will now discuss the nature of Content Type Syndication and the Choice sets through Managed Metadata Columns. In my first post, we examined the Choice, Lookup and Managed Metadata columns to determine which column fit which solution. In my second post we examined how a Managed Metadata Term Store could be configured as a source for a Managed Metadata Column. The main goal of these posts was to examine a solution based on a feature that Lotus Notes has, which was a managed Choice column where a predefined set of choices could be made but users could also be given the ability to add to the list and have others use those choices. Thus an examination of the Managed Metadata Service Application (which we will now abbreviate as MMS) to create such a managed Choice column was necessary. Now that we have considered how the Managed Metadata Column could help and how we could deploy a Term Store specifically for Choice Sets, we will take this further and create a published Managed Metadata Column for easier management and better consistency.
Content Type Syndication Basics
Content Type Syndication is the other half of the MMS in that it allows a centrally defined and managed hierarchy of Content Types to be deployed and used without the disconnect between different Site Collections. Since Site Collections continue to be the boundary where most site management occurs, being able to easily publish across Site Collections without additional code is a useful feature. This publication occurs through the Service Connection relationship that Service Applications have with Web Applications, thus providing their services to the sites within any Web Application's Site Collections. What is particularly functional about this feature is that it can create a cascade of syndication tiers, which means that one MMS for syndicating content can be consumed by a different MMS and, in turn, provide the cumulative services of the first MMS and the second MMS to a third. This provides a high degree of control over which Content Types can be managed by designated Content Type Administrators as their responsibilities fall to only a small but specific subset of Content Types for the organization.
The syndication occurs through a Content Type Hub, a simple Site Collection that stores a Content Type Gallery and Site Column Gallery, which is then connected to an MMS. Only one Content Type Hub may be associated with one MMS, although as previously mentioned, an MMS connected to a Content Type Hub can easily be connected to a Content Type Hub for a different MMS and cascade the changes to this hub. Thus Web Applications can take advantage of both Content Type Hubs. This is also important as only one MMS may be set as the default in any given Proxy Group for all associated Web Applications.
Building the Hub for Publishing
When creating the Site Collection for the Content Type Hub, the site template is not necessarily important, but only available Content Types on the destination Site Collection will be published. For example, if a Team Site template is used for the Content Type Hub, we cannot publish Publishing Content Types unless we also activate Publishing. This also applies to how Site Columns are published. Since we cannot publish Site Columns directly, they need to travel to the destination via a Content Type. However, if the Site Column exists in the destination Site Collection, neither will the Site Column nor the associated Content Type publish to the destination.
1) Create the Content Type Hub
A Site Collection is all that is needed, placed anywhere appropriate. If this will be managed internally, adding the Content Type Hub to an internal content Web Application could be done, but often this Site Collection is partitioned into its own Web Application and Content Database to allow complete control over access and security. In this scenario, a managed path to separate the Content Type Hub called Choices was created.
2) Configure the Content Type Hub
Once the Content Type Hub is created, it needs to be associated with the MMS that will connect it to subscribing Web Applications and thus to their associated Site Collections. If the Content Type Hub is used for other purposes such as centralizing management of all Content Types, the Managed Metadata Column could be created here, or a dedicated Web Application could be configured to allow central management of just the Choice Sets.
3) Configure how the MMS Consumes Content
The MMS proxy connection is one of the few configuration points for a proxy connection for a Service Application that allow specific features of either Managed Metadata or Content Type Syndication to be configured. In order for the MMS to allow the consumption of Content Types from the Content Type Hub, we need to configure this option first. Without this option, the use of the Content Type Hub is ignored and no publication will occur.
4) Create the Site Column and Content Type
This can be built either by Site Column first or by Content Type. Since it is likely that the Site Column would be created first, the Content Type can act as the vehicle for delivery once all necessary columns are created. Also, if the Term Set has not been generated already, it should be created before the Site Column can pull from it.
5) Publish the Content Type
Delivery of the Site Column through the Content Type requires that the Content Type is published. Also, the Content Type Subscription Timer Job needs to run. Normally this runs hourly, so a manual execution may be necessary for testing. Since the Content type will not change simply because of the Site Column, republishing is not a concern. However, if a new Site Column Choices Set were to be added, this would require a republish on the Content Type. To simply later application, the Item Content Type was used to act as the delivery vehicle.
6) Connect the Choices Set Managed Metadata Column to List
Once the Site Column arrives into the destination Site Collection, a standard add from existing site columns to any list would meet the requirement. This could be taken further, and list or library Content Types could be created and attached as necessary. In this scenario, a Wiki Page Library is used to apply our Managed Categories.
Presently, we can test this column with changes immediately, both through the Managed Metadata Column and through the Term Store itself. Any additions or changes made are now immediate and require no additional republishing or processing. However, we now have a centralized management system for our Choices Sets that can be managed and handled by authorized or everyday users. If needed, this can be chained together to syndicate through multiple levels of MMS' for both a specific set of terms and one that can be populated throughout the enterprise, even through to other farms. However, now that we have completed the infrastructure, we need to take this further and determine additional complications with both the browser and other Office clients.
In my next post, we will examine how this specialized Choices Set will be viewed and used through list views as well as through Office clients.