Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Datasheet view alternatives

Ok, this is really long overdue…

Ever since Microsoft introduced the datasheet view for editing lists in SharePoint I’ve had mixed emotions about it.

Although datasheet is a great editing tool for SharePoint lists that allows you to quickly edit and update multiple items in an excel-like experience – it has been a challenge getting it to work.

One customer of mine used a proxy server internally to direct traffic into his SharePoint, which made the datasheet view unavailable.

Another customer had deployed office 2010 64 bit on his users computers. Apparently datasheet view does not support office 2010 64bit:

Some other customers complaining that they cannot use FireFox or Chrome with datasheet view, or any OS that does not have office installed.

And finally, datasheet view does not support custom field types – they appear as read only. Actually, even standard OOB fields use a different editing control inside the datasheet view, causing an inconsistent editing experience to the user.

This have been bothering me for a long while, and finally with the help of my friend Igor Goldshtaub we came up with an idea that will allow you to:

  1. Edit multiple list items (bulk edit)
  2. Enjoy fast inline editing in list views on all major browsers
  3. Inline edit custom field types as well as OOB field types
  4. Have a consistent user experience, using the same editing controls as used in the actual “edit” item form
  5. Paste information from excel into a list

The best part is, it potentially supports any 3rd party custom field type, from any other vendor or even ones you develop yourself. Most field types just work, others may need to call a JavaScript method when the content is resized (picker is opened, for example) “OnClientResponseEnded();”

Inline editing demo:

Paste from excel demo:

I’d love to hear what you think about this solution, and if you run into trouble using a custom field type – please let me know! My goal is to be able to support all custom field types in this inline editing platform!

Finally, we have an answer for editing custom field types in datasheet view. It’s not datasheet, but it comes close!

Cheers, Shai.