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O365: Create a SharePoint-On-Line List

What is a List?

Viewed through a browser a SharePoint on-line List looks very much like a SharePoint on-line Library. However, where the library is a place to store a file, along with any metadata which describes the file a list is a place to store simple data. The data stored can be used as information, can be used as metadata across the site or can be manipulated to present different aspects of the information. In this sense a SharePoint on-line list can be compared to a spreadsheet, or a view of the contents of a database.

A word of caution here, SharePoint on-line lists and libraries are effectively limited in content to 5000 rows. If it is anticipated that the row count of a list is likely to approach this number, it would be appropriate to split the list in to two or more separate lists, create a list which utilizes metadata indexing to filter searching or create a list which reads data from an external database on demand. These three options required a little more analysis of the list requirements and will be dealt with in later articles.

List Usage.

A very simple form of list is one that contains detail about customers. A customer list would contain information, such as names, addresses, contacts and the like which can be used across other lists and libraries in the site. So, for instance, when indexing a new invoice into the Invoices library the customer data can be selected from the Customer list instead of retyping or cutting and pasting.

 To demonstrate this we will use a slightly modified version of the Invoices library we created earlier (see http://www.ffox-software.com/Guides/O365CreLib.aspx).

Create the List

1. Open O365 in a browser. I prefer to use IE for this as Edge will not allow reliable copy and paste.
2. Click on the app launcher icon  select ‘Sites’.
3. Click on the tile for the Site where you wish to create the libraries. For the screen shots here I’ve used my own ffox Test site.
4.  I use ffox Test to test new ideas and processes.
5. From the left hand ‘Quick Access’ menu select ‘Site Contents’
6. Click the ‘add an app’ icon and select ‘Document Library’ from the top of the list.
7. A dialogue will ask for a name for the new library, enter ‘Invoices’ and click create.
8. The new ‘Invoices’ library appears in the list and it will also be shown in the ‘Quick Access Menu’ on the left of the screen
   

 

However, in order to make the list fully functional there is some configuration to be done.

Configure the new list

When a new list is created in O365 SharePoint on-line automatically creates a number of default data fields. These can be viewed in the following way –

1. From the site home page


 
  Select ‘Customers’ from the Quick Access Menu.
2. The default view will display.

There is no content as yet and this view will show just one field named ‘Title’.
By default SharePoint on-line creates seventeen data fields for any new list and these will be populated automatically for any entry in the list.

3. To view a list of all data fields click the ‘List' tab in the top left of the screen.

This will display the library ribbon. Select ‘Modify View’.
4. From this list on the settings page you will see all of the default columns (fields). Those with the ‘Display’ checkbox ticked will show on the default view seen in step 2 above. If the checkbox is unticked the data is hidden.

Utilising this you can choose what meta data you wish to display in the list default view. You can also create new views for specific purposes, this will be covered in a separate article.
However, not many of the columns (fields) in the default list are particularly relevant to the business function of recording Customer details, so we will need to create new columns and name them specifically. We can also choose if we want to require the users to enter data, or allow them to leave the field empty.
5. To create new fields return to the Invoices default view by clicking ‘Invoices’ in the ‘Quick Access’ menu on the left. Then click the ‘Library’ tab in the top left of the screen and from the library ribbon select ‘Library Settings’ towards the right hand end of the ribbon.

This will display the settings page for the Customers list. Around half way down the page the current fields (columns) are listed and below that are some action links, the first of which is ‘Create column’.
Before we create any new columns we need to consider what data we want to store. For this exercise we will create columns to store
Customer Name
Address 1
Address 2
Address 3
Address
4 Postcode
These few fields will give enough information to allow us to sort the contents of the list to display quite a range of information which will be useful to users in the future.
Start by clicking on ‘Create Column’

Then fill in the entries shown above and click ‘OK’ in the far bottom right of the screen.

Repeat the process for the remaining new fields -



Don’t forget to save it by clicking ‘OK’ after each new field.

6. Return to the default view for Customers by clicking on the ‘Customers’ name in the left hand quick access menu and you will see the new fields under the 'Find an Item' box.
7. Click the 'List' tab and select 'Modify View' from the ribbon. Deselect the 'Display' checkbox for 'Title' and check the one for 'ID', then return to the default view by clicking 'Customers' in the quick launch ment on the left.


The new fields (columns) are now included and you are ready to start importing customer details to the list.
 

Entering Customer Details

Click on ‘New Item’.

and enter the details as shown above. Then click ‘Save’

The entry will appear as shown above. The ‘ID’ column is allocated a unique numeric key for each entry by SharePoint on-line. This cannot be deleted or edited and the ‘ID’ of deleted records are not reused.

Now that we have created a library and a list we can begin to explore interaction and links between the two.

Notes:

1. This assumes that the user has Internet access

2. Also that the user has been granted write access to the SharePoint site and library

3. If the library has ‘check in/check out’ enabled the user will be prompted to check out on opening and check in on closing

4. If the library has ‘Approval’ enabled the document will not be visible to other users until ‘Approval’ has been granted

Learn more.

 

Chris Watkins I've been an IT professional for over thirty years. Most of that time has been spent helping large organisations with the evaluation, installation and maintenance of business software applications.
I have a wealth of knowhow on the subject of data management.
Advice is free and so are basic templates. If you need more just ask. I only charge for actual work done.
Contact - Tel: 01392 58 0420 email: authoring@ffox.biz