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Term Store & Managed Metadata in SharePoint 2013 & SharePoint Online

The Managed Metadata Service enables you to define a term store, as shown in the first image below, with related term sets and terms. The Term Store Management Tool, as shown in the second image below, enables you to perform the actions to build the appropriate configuration for your organization.

SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Online allows for one term store per shared service application and you can then create many groups per term store. The managed metadata service creates a separate database or databases apart from the organization’s SharePoint content databases.

The service is shared and consumed using the service application infrastructure. Within SharePoint’s Central Administration, users with appropriate permissions can perform the actions to create metadata service applications (that is, term stores) and configure metadata service connections.

Term sets provide and/or provide for the following capabilities:

  • Create and manage different hierarchies that share terms
  • Allow the same term to have different parents in different term sets
  • Configure each term set to have a unique sort order
  • Allow or disallow end-user updates

Term management within your organization allows you to do the following:

  • Copy terms
  • Reuse terms
  • Provide term description
  • Merge terms

Within a specific organization or division, you can create term sets. In the example in the first image below, a new term is being created for EPC Group’s Application Development division.

You also have the option of importing a predefined term set, as shown in the image below, using a simple CSV file. There are limitations around the import term set functionality because it does not support the following:

  • Synonyms
  • Translations
  • Custom properties
  • Reused terms/pinning
  • Pinned terms—read-only usage of the terms in other places in term hierarchy

EPC Group’s Managed Metadata and Term Store “From the Trenches” Tips

There are several key tips and takeaways to remember when planning and implementing term sets. The following are some quick points for consideration:

  • Adding a term set as a navigation source for a site is also referred to as a catalog. When a term set is added as a navigation source for a site, you are also able to define custom pages or pass selected tags to filtered view controls.
  • Term sets can be copied, relocated, and reused from existing terms.
  • Terms can be copied, reused, merged, deprecated, and so on.
  • Keywords (that is, folksonomy) can be moved into a managed term set or deleted.
  • Folksonomy is referred to as managed keywords that are usually “open” and allow users to add new terms interactively.
  • Managed term stores are usually closed and require administrators to add new terms.
  • Security is limited to the term set level.
  • All child terms inherit this visibility setting.
  • When dynamic external tags are being utilized, there are one-way data import limits and the BCS provides alternative tag techniques. The BCS data source can also be maintained externally or by publishing the source as an external list.
  • Programming and customization are allowed (that is, C# and PowerShell) and native web parts can be utilized to display tags. You can also easily build web parts to add statistics on tag usage.
  • Constraints and limitations exist, such as no granular security on tag definitions or tags as applied. Also, if you add price or color to a product tag, these will not be reflected in SharePoint search results.

Managed Metadata Design Considerations – EPC Group Tips from the Trenches

When approaching information architecture design considerations regarding the MMS, you should consider the following “in the consulting trenches” lessons:

  • Use MMS to centrally define product tags to be shared across multiple sites and libraries.
  • Create centralized document repositories (Document Center and so on).
  • Define a term store for all common elements and synonyms.
  • Use MMS-enhanced navigation and search queries to create information storefronts and catalogs.
  • Folksonomy consists of informal lists of ad hoc tags or terms that are built up over a period of time through user-defined keywords and are centrally stored in the MMS application. They can easily be enabled for all document libraries and can also be applied to content outside of SharePoint.

EPC Group’s Nationally Recognized Practice Areas

EPC Group leading Custom Application DevelopmentSharePointOffice 365, Infrastructure Design and Business Intelligence Practice areas continue to lead the way in providing our clients with the most up-to-date and relevant information that is tailored to their individual business and functional needs.

Additional “From the Consulting Trenches” strategies and methodologies are covered in EPC Group’s new book, “SharePoint 2013 Field Guide: Advice from the Consulting Trenches” covering not only SharePoint 2013, Office 365 and SharePoint Online but Information Management, ECM\RM and overall compliance strategies in this ever changing world of “Hybrid IT.”

Errin OConnor

Errin OConnor

With over 25 years of experience in Information Technology and Management Consulting, Errin O’Connor has led hundreds of large-scale enterprise implementations from Business Intelligence, Power BI, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, IT Security, Azure and Hybrid Cloud efforts for over 165 Fortune 500 companies.

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