Monday, March 17, 2008

SharePoint Product recommendation of the week - WSS 3.0 Connected Fields.

The first post in a series of (hopefully) many to come, I want to tell you about a product that really impressed me. I am going to give "stars" to show how impressed I was.

For now, these stars are lousy images that I created my self using visio and, but if there is a volunteer amongst my readers who can whip up a nice "sharepoint tips star" design, please contact me through this "email ishai" link (you understand why I will not expose my email address?). Please upload the image to a web site (picasa, flicker and so on) so I can see it. I will publicly thank anyone who will submit an entry into this "make Ishai a star" contest.

The product of this week is "WSS 3.0 Connected Fields" by a company called InfoWise. For proper disclosure I have to say that the owner and the lead developer there are both friends of mine - but that doesn't change the fact that this product is awesomely cool - 4.5 stars.

Also known as "Master-Detail" or "Cascading Dropdowns", WSS 3.0 Connected Fields adds another field type to the types of fields you can add to lists in SharePoint. this field type operates like the built-in lookup field, but also allows you to specify a "parent" lookup.

This way you can create a master-detail connection between two fields. For example, choose a "category" and have the "product" list filter to products in that category! how great!

What is even more impressive is that they support infinite connections. so "Continent" will filter "Country" which will filter "State" which will filter "City" and so on and on.

But every friendship has its limits - and so does this solution. The only thing that bugs me about this is that the field type cannot be used in site columns and therefor in content types.
As a developer I understand the difficulty - but still I reckon that this solution can only get 4.5 stars and not 5 just because of that.

Here are some images from the infowise web site (ignore the hebrew bit in the second one - it is the "none" value for the lookup - a Microsoft localization stuff-up?):


Bjørn Furuknap said...

Hm... this is realy usefull, except it is not.

Why would it not be possible to use for a site columns? I mean, 'normal' lookup fields, and I assume they have inherited from SPFieldLookup, work nicely across both site columns and subsites, as long as the lookup list is in the root site.

Do you know why or how they have limited this to be a list field?

Vladi said...

My name is Vladi and the CTO of Infowise.
For you comment: we are not supporting site columns yet, because there is no elegant and user-friendly way for us to provide this functionality. Our columns needs another column to be configured in its settings (the master column), otherwise it just wouldn't work. Site columns by their nature are separated and have no relation to other columns. We are considering splitting the configuration process into two stages, the second one being attaching the column to content type or list, but WSS provides no such stage, so I'm afraid it won't be too user-friendly. We still need to get more feedback from users to make a decision.

Eitan Bach said...

Im happy to inform that "Infowise Connected Fields" supports site columns, content types and multy values.

Eitan Bach

Infowise Ltd.