Thursday, 7 April 2011

UI Design and Taxonomy

Sometimes, when you're designing a UI for a better experience for Users, you want to use some of the functionality usually reserved for content authors.

What do I mean? Well, normally in Publishing Sites, when you're in edit mode you expose components and UI to content authors and allow a great user experience. The page becomes published and then that same data might be shown to readers of the page as simple text or perhaps formatted in some HTML - either way, it's exposed as static data. But suppose you have a form which readers need to interact with to, say, select a set of search criteria which you have available. 

One such part of SharePoint 2010 which is likely to be used frequently is Managed Metadata and taxonomy. It may be you want to allow Users to select a Term from your Term Set in search rather than allowing a manual text input field. Fortunately, this is something someone has thought about at Microsoft and therefore created the Taxonomy Web Tagging Control.

First of all, a little about why a separate control is necessary.

In Publishing, due to the way Page Layouts are closely tied in with Content Types Fields are exposed using the Field Controls which, obviously, use the underlying Field from the Content Type to store and retrieve it's data. Outside of a Page Layout the Field Controls in general fall down as they rely on this close relationship for their supply and storage and therefore cannot be used unless the underlying item has a Field within its Content Type that matches.

Taxonomy Field Controls are no different, so therefore the Taxonomy Web Tagging Control steps in to allow coupling to the Term Store and Term Set directly, bypassing the need for a Content Type and freeing up the control to be used just about anywhere (see the hyperlink below for more information about this component).

Two slightly awkward bits of information are required: the Term Store ID (exposed as the SSPList property) and the Term Set ID (exposed as the TermSetList property). How do you get these?

Open up Central Admin and go to your Managed Metadata service - you'll see the Term Store ID exposed in the URL. If you navigate the Term Store to the Term Set you want to use and open up something like the IE Dev Toolbar you can step through the HTML structure to the LI tag of the Term Set and the ID attribute of the LI tag is your Term Set ID.

Here's some more information from Microsoft on the Web Tagging Control and how to use it:

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