How to edit the department SharePoint site

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This is a legacy page and it is no longer maintained. For archival purposes only.

The University is using Microsoft SharePoint for our website. SharePoint is a content management system, where pages are created dynamically from a database. Editors can change only subsets of the database they are authorized for, in order to enforce uniform structure and look and feel of the site. In principle, this is not so different from other content management systems, which is how contemporary web sites are done. Unfortunately, the website is slow and editing even slower and non-intuitive, and it is hard to find where the displayed information is stored. Worse, version control in SharePoint is rudimentary, and it is easy to cause major, non-recoverable damage (with the extent depending on your authorization).



It is really useful to do some basic training. This is a rather non-intuitive system, and because of the possibility of damage to the site, no one should edit the site without getting training first.

  • Read the basics manual.
  • Take the training offered by the University first. The class you want is SharePoint 101 - The Basics. Remember the friendly ATEL folks are stuck with the same ponderous system as we all are and it is not their fault.
  • If possible, go to the SharePoint Open Lab sessions they offer and do your editing there, with their help.

The rest of this howto assumes that you are familiar with the basic concepts covered in the SharePoint 101 class.

Regular Updates

The following updates should be made every semester or every year

The following updates should be made when new information is available

  • News items, jobs available — Homepage

SharePoint peculiarities

If you are used to working with any version control system, some of the following will be rather strange.

  • Version control is on a page basis. However deleted pages cannot be currently recovered from within SharePoint. Even earlier version of a page may not be always visible and recoverable. There is a version control flag associated with the page that needs to turn on.
  • Structure and objects other than pages, such as lists, tables, navigation, etc. are not version controlled and changes take effect immediately.
  • There are effectively only two branches: the published site, and unpublished pages. Everyone who is logged in and has the authorization to edit a particular page, will see the same unpublished version of that page, if one exists.
  • The "Save" button does not do anything useful. You need to "Check in" your page to have it saved in the system. If you don't, and go away with the page still checked out, other editors can override your check-out and you will then lose your work.
  • It is possible to "hide" objects. Hidden objects do not appear in the navigation, but their URLs still work - so they may still appear in searches.

Best practices

  • Never delete anything. Hide contents first. But be aware google will still find the hidden page. So delete when you are sure you want it gone.
  • The official recommendation to use Microsoft Internet Explorer. If you have a Mac, it's Windows virtual machine time. But if something does not work, try another browser, such as Chrome.
  • Check in the page you are working on every time when you leave the computer, and publish as soon as possible.
  • Even better, publish your work as often as you would normally save a document. Publishing a page will also check it in automatically.
  • If someone has a page checked out which you need to work on, try to contact them before overriding their checkout and think twice before you do. Leave your email open when editing so that you can respond to such inquiries yourself.
  • Edit at night. The site can be very slow during the day.
  • Never log in or edit from an non-secure location such as a coffee shop or an unencrypted wireless network. They are not using an encrypted connection. Really.
  • Use SharePoint links within SharePoint whenever possible. These are basically links relative to the root of the website. Avoid URLs starting with http:// to link from SharePoint pages to other pages within the site.

How to Practice Editing without Affecting the Website

How to add a thesis

  • To add the thesis PDF file, navigate in the back end to the storage directory and press New -> Item: Add-thesis-file.png

(To do this, go to the alumni page, then click on Site Actions > Manage Content and Structure.)

  • Edit the page with the list of thesis, and click the checkbox at the heading of the table next to "Student". This should make a new menu appear in the ribbon on top. Hover over the "New item" button all the way on the left: Add-new-item-thesis.png and click it.
  • Fill the dialog box Adding-thesis-dialog-box.png and save. To get the thesis file URL, navigate to it in another browser window and copy and paste the URL from the browser.

How to edit menu items

The following may not always work, because menus can be created in different ways logically, yet they look the same to the user. But it is worth a try.

  • Select the menu you want to change by clicking on the top of the menu. This is above the first menu item.
  • In the ribbon on the right, Site settings -> Navigation
  • Look at the bottom right of the page, select the item you want to change Select-menu-item.png and do what you want.
  • If you do not see the item you want, try Site settings -> Navigation from the department main page, and on the right bottom you should see the complete tree of menus, and navigate there.
  • You need to publish a site even if you just make changes to the Navigation menu.

How to replace a semester course schedule

  • Add to the spreadsheet links to syllabi from the course titles as necessary. You will need to do that using Excel on Windows.
  • Convert to PDF best by "Acrobat" tab in Excel making sure the Acrobat conversion settings include links. Details depend on your versions on Excel and Acrobat.
  • Site actions -> Manage contents and structure
  • Navigate in the left bar to College of Liberal Arts and Sciences -> Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences -> Programs -> Course Information -> Documents -> Course Schedules -> Schedule-new-item.png
  • Click on the box in front of the item you want to replace and select on the upper menu bar New -> Item
  • If you want to replace an existing document, make sure that the name of the file on your computer is exactly the same as the name of the document on the website, and the box "Add as a new version to existing files" is checked.
  • Write a succinct message in the Version Comments box and press OK
  • On the next screen press SAVE.
  • Ignore any warning about approvals, go back to the library, check the box in front of the file, select Actions -> Publish Schedule-publish.png, and write your succint message again.
  • IF you added a file or change its name, go the the Course Schedules page and edit as necessary to link to the file. It is best to use "add SharePoint link" and navigate to the file you want to link to.
  • Check from another browser or best another computer that the result is what you intended.


Adding lists

Unable to import a list from a spreadsheet:

  • Navigate to a site
  • Click on Site Actions -> View all lists and libraries.
  • Click Create.
  • Click on Import Spreadsheet, then click on Create.
  • Select a spreadsheet to import. I get this error message: "The specified list is not a valid spreadsheet or contains no data".

Fix: Create the list semi-manually

  • Navigate to a site
  • Click on Site Actions -> View all lists and libraries.
  • Click Create.
  • Click Custom List. Give the list a name, and click create.
  • Click on Datasheet View to view the list as a spreadsheet.
  • Use the Create Column button to create all necessary columns
  • You now should be able to copy and paste data from a spreadsheet.
  • (If you need to delete a list, navigate to the list and click on the List Settings button. There will be an option to delete the current list).
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